Thanks to Mark E. again for the sample. He’s been sampling Islay Single Malts and sharing them with me. I don’t think that I ever would’ve ventured this far into the Islay region without his excitement and encouragement.
The sweetness is very forward with a mixture of smoke, peat, salt and grass in the background. The sweet aroma is caramel, butterscotch and just a hint of orange zest. After a while I start to smell fresh cut hay and a drop of maraschino cherry. The nose transforms to sweetly smoked peat to grassy smoke with more emphasis on the grass.
The taste is smoky orange, lemon, vanilla and ginger at first. The ginger and smoke linger through to the finish, where the smoke fades into a leathery charred oak with black pepper arriving midway through and lingering on with the wood. The tangy fruit fades quickly, while the vanilla is joined by a mild buttery toffee and fades slowly. The sweetness lasts quite a while and provides balance to the peppery, bitter finish. The experience is somewhat choppy as the phases are transitioned. The initial flavor is sweet, tangy and spicy, then sweet and spicy, then bitter and spicy. It’s hard to describe… not impressive, but not bad. It’s a mildly peated, fruity, spicy Islay with plenty of wood. I’m betting that an older expression would work much better.