Another year, another trip to Islay and how lucky with the weather was I?
Due to this being a family holiday, there’s no Feis visits, but still a distillery or two gets a look in.
This time round, the usual trip to Ardbeg was made, as was a tasting at Laphroaig.
Ardbeg first, and you can tell the LVMH money is coming in! They’ve really had a clean up and what was the car park is now a rather nice ‘courtyard’ of sorts, complete with Ardbeg logo. Looks great.
Additionally, above the cask seats around the back of the distillery, a large ‘A’ logo has appeared, not looking out of place on the wall at all.
Inside, it seemed like business as usual with tours and visitors all over the place. The shop is still cramped, but for me, the interest was on the shelves;
Supernova is still available in the distillery, at £120, as is the well-presented Kildalton – again at £120.
However, the ‘biggie’ was a rather wonderful 1815 anniversary bottle. A 33 year old and very rare (400 bottles) named in celebration of the year the distillery was founded. This comes from spirit from 1974 bourbon barrels and 1975 sherry butts. In 2008, it was moved from the older casks to glass containers to preserve the maturation it had got too.
I was lucky enough to sample this, and wow, what a monster. Not as heavy as I’d expect for it’s age, and that’s good, but still a rich and full dram.
My friend who bought a bottle will do well to keep this locked up. At £3,000 a bottle (now retailing outside of the distillery for upto £5k) it’s one to handle with care.
Onto Laphroaig and a rainy day in Islay (which was a shame as the rest of the week was belting), however there are worse places to see.
The standard tour is as good as the rest I’ve been to on the island. All standard stuff for you out there. We then went on to a Premium Tasting which got much more interesting. Less to do with timescale, more chatty and interactive with the wonderful host.
Alas, my notes are missing and my memory fails me, but we tasted some great stuff from annual releases, younger and older spirit. Highly recommended and well worth the additional ££ we spent.
I’m now (more) of a convert of Laphroaig, and picked up a half bottle of 21 yo and cask strength 10yo which, at £45 a bottle, I thought was a bargain. Both are great drams.
Until next time..