In the galaxy of Atom Brands’ ingenious brands, the latest is The Character of Islay Whisky Company, distributed in Italy by Fine Spirits: as the name suggests, the focus is on Islay whiskies. Congratulations, Sherlock! Thank you, Watson. Alongside a series of independent bottlings of single casks, there are three ‘stable’ expressions, named after three fictitious characters whose probable fictional story we have not honestly delved into. We said: stable expressions, exploring different styles of peaty whisky. Today we taste them, one by one, in strict order of age: from the youngest, 10-year-old Areolite Lyndsay, to the most, er, mature, 33-year-old Fiona MacLeod, via Grace Ile 25 yo.
Aerolite Lyndsay 10 yo (2019, The Character of Islay Whisky Company, 46%)
70% bourbon, 25% sherry quarter cask, 5% mystery cask. N: did someone say Caol…? It’s very reminiscent of that profile: lots of coastal scents, a lashing smoke and the cereal in the foreground, genuine. Then lemon, vanilla, white chocolate. The sherry quota seems to give it spice, between paprika and saffron.P: the low alcohol content makes it certainly not very explosive. The cereal is still on the shield and gives a delicate herbaceous sweetness. Lemon and vanilla again. Compared to the nose the youth emerges more, with candied fruit here and there, simplifying a profile that otherwise remains taut and savoury. The peat is ashy. F: and ash will also return in the finish, perhaps smoking a cigar. Lemon, grass and more saffron. All in all, a fully convincing nose is followed by a palate that is quite thin-bodied, though pleasant: 84/100.
Grace Ile 25 yo (2020, The Character of Islay Whisky Company, 48%)
N: a delicate nose that nevertheless suggests rich mellow notes, from shortcrust pastry to rice cooked in milk. There is then a persuasive note of complex citrus, layered between orange blossom and bergamot. The island side comes in the form of brine, barbecue off fish. The smoke is subtle, as befits an over 20-year-old, with a wisp of wax. P: gives oily, waxy sensations and starts off with a great savouriness (grilled fish) and a very smooth, woody peat. The sweetness register sees sugary cereals, starfruit, green apples, unripe banana, bergamot. It displays the oxymoron of an intense, compressed delicacy. F: a wax to go mad with joy, within which a green sweetness blends, between cerealy and fruity. The only defect of this whisky is that it has a handbrake that is almost pulled, especially on the palate, but if you stop and listen, the melody is refined and complex and you lose yourself in a plot from another era: 89/100.
Fiona Macleod 33 yo (2020, The Character of Islay Whisky Company, 46,3%)
Distilled in 1985. N: we are hit by a strange combo of sweaty fruit and camphor that reminds us so much of a distillery, or rather a certain period of this Islay distillery. The peat after all these years has become light, steamy, with a slight smog note. Iodine tincture. Yellow apple and pineapple. P: here is the FWP effect! The entry is all about soapy notes, women’s perfume, violet, bitter shaving foam that go a bit by themselves. You have to be a connoisseur of the genre to appreciate them. The situation is partially saved by flashes of tropical fruit, while seaweed and fish add strangeness to an already very freaky profile. F: ash, salt, shaving foam. There is no shortage of fascinating elements on the nose, although on the palate there are even more disturbing elements: 76/100. Worth it above all as testimony to a style, in its own way iconic.
Recommended soundtrack: Viagra Boys – Creatures.