Last Friday we took part in a really unmissable tasting: thanks to Whisky Club Italia and Claudio Riva, now in his fifteenth Feis Ile, we tasted seven bottles from the Feis Ile 2018, just finished. Here is the report of the first four drams, see you tomorrow for the last three.
The first whisky we actually tasted was this 8-year-old Kilkerran, 1020 bottles from a couple of recharred sherry casks, bottled for the Glengyle open day at Campbeltown – the event preceding the Islay festival.
Kilkerran 8 yo ‘Open Day’ (2018, OB, 58,4%)
Spectacular. Despite such an active barrel, the sherry remains delicate, with fruity notes (strawberry/raspberry and red apple), and above all perfectly integrated with the mineral and coastal soul (graphite, sea breeze, port smell) in evidence. Exceptional. With water, it opens and warms up (next to the fruit festival, it also develops notes of stable and sheep, according to some). 90/100
Second bottle: a big piece of the special bottling lot, Its Majesty Lagavulin! 18 years old, aged in ex-bourbon barrels (first and second fill) and ex-sherry, only 6000 bottles and price already skyrocketing at auctions.
Lagavulin 18yo Feis Ile (2018, OB, 53,9%)
Excellent: overflowing nose, fat (pork fat, but also peanuts), small red fruits, yellow apple, oyster, shellfish and smoggy smoke. Talcum powder. The palate is much more burnt, more ‘trivial’ compared to the nose. Shortbreads, toffee. Marked sweetness, little sea. Very burnt finish and little else. With water the citrus fruit (orange) explodes, overall it improves a bit, it opens with menthol, it becomes more and more medicinal. The usual, excellent Laga. 89/100
Third time? No, third dram! Here’s the Heretic: Port Charlotte, the peaty Bruichladdich. A blend of the last 5 barrels left over from distillations in 2001, including ex-bourbon and “ex-french wine” (sic): it is in fact the oldest PC ever put on the market.
Port Charlotte ‘The Heretic’ (2001/2018, OB, 55,9%)
The contribution of the ex-wine barrels is quite evident (wood, red fruits, blueberries). Peat ‘high’ and pungent, brine, black olives, a creamy tip. Mentholated notes. Citrus (lime/kumquat). On the palate the wood is very strong, then ink, citrus and a really hardcore creaminess. Salt (but not sea). To our taste it is a little too woody to be called a champion, but it is also a very enjoyable dram. 86/100
There’s no three without four, they say, right? This time it’s not the bottling for the festival, considered not up to it, but the wonderful Laphroaig 10 years old Cask Strength. And Claudio knows his way around Laphroaig, so…
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength #10 (2018, OB, 58%)
A textbook Laphroaig. Smoke, medicinal, lime, you can smell the peated grain after a walk in the kiln. So much marinity: rotting seaweed, suggests Claudio. The palate explodes on the same notes, with an intense, infinite peat (burnt tire!). Candied ginger. It closes on licorice. Aggressive smoke, very persistent. Delicious, maybe simple, but quintessential. 88/100
Recommended soundtrack: Iron Maiden – The Number of The Beast.