The Whisky Tasting Club

Day 1: Saturday 21st. Lagavulin

So last year we arrived about 3pm in glorious sunshine, raced down to Lagavulin, bought the last two festival bottlings then went for a walk on the beach in shorts and sandals feeling particularly smug. This year we had to catch the 7:00am ferry (due to our incompetence), left the boat to be met by in a howling gale in which we had to stand for an hour and a half to get our laga festival bottlings, feeling windswept and vaguely foolish for not retreating to somewhere more clement. Still, this is Scotland, so rain is to be expected, and its great to be back. The island is so familiar now (this is our third visit to Islay, now equal top in the list of our most visited holiday destination), even the dog seems to remember the cottage.

We chose the bumpy road to laga, and it seems that the tradition of waving at all passing cars has gone, although one old fella gave us the Islay finger. Still, I will persist with my Norfolk wave to encourage them. After buying two festival and two distillery only bottles (tastings later) we went for coffee at Ardbeg, popped into Laphroaig on the way back before coming back up to Bowmore. So we have visited my four favourite distilleries in the world before lunch time! News on the Festival bottlings

Lagavulin: 13 yo Single cask (51%), 588 bottles. We arrived at 10am and the queue was long. When we passed it again the queue was much shorter. Given we bought the last one at 4pm last year, I think the best strategy with this many bottles would be to go around 12:30-13:00. The queue moves so slowly

Ardbeg: This years bottling has spent its life in a Pedro Ximes sherry cask! Pure sherried Ardbeg. Not something I have tried. Best thing is, it is going to be priced at £90. Now, this is still not cheap, but better than last year, when the 10 year old offering was first priced at £220 before being reduced to £120 the day before release (without my knowing). I will definitely be getting some this year. Not sure how many there are, I would guess either one or two casks (600 or 1200 bottles?)

Laphroaig: Cairdais again, £45, 1400 available at the shop, more online (not sure how many, iirc it was 4000 last year). Had a small taste, very nice, we will write notes on Tuesday. Also picked up a bottle of the new cask strength.

Bowmore: As with last year, Bowmore have two festival offerings. The first is 500 bottles of a 15 year old sherry finish called Laimrig bottled at 54.4%. This is actually on sale today, but this doesn’t seem to be generally known as there is no queue. I’ve got mine in, notes on this on Tuesday. The second is 100 bottles of I think 28 year old for £350, which will go on sale on weds and will probably sell out at 2 am like last year. Don’t think I will try, not in this weather.

So finally checked into the cross house cottage at 2pm having already bought 10 bottles of whisky. Now we go off to Lagavulin for a master class tasting at 4pm. That’s my idea of how to start a holiday, who cares about the weather? Photos to follow.

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  • Here we go again guys! Hope the weather is not causing too much of a dampener. Good news on the Ardbeg – especially as we will have to drive from Port Askaig in the morning to get there! So long as they keep it to one per person again (at least to start with) I should be in luck :-). Any sign of the Aligator stuff there? Great to hear Laphroaig are ‘keeping it real’ again. Good on them.
    Enjoy the drams and being back on Islay – you lucky people and dog!

  • Hi martin, cosied up by the fire now with a wealth of whisky to sample, so weather not worrying us :)
    No sign of the alligator and I had already taken up a fair amount of her time with a queue behind me. I’ll ask on tues when we are next down there.
    see you next saturday, Ardbeg has a spanish theme i see! Are you doing a tasting/event there?

  • Hi Tony. We are doing one of the boat rides they are running, at 11:30. Hopefully the weather will be OK! Were you in the queue for the festival bottling? Are they selling it yet, or just on the day?
    Enjoy Bruichaddich today. If the gods are doing what they should, you should have better weather today. Then again, the world didn’t end yesterday so what do they know?

  • they are not selling the ardbeg until saturday, not sure how much of it they have,will find out

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