The Whisky Tasting Club

Day 6. Thurs 26th. Kilchoman

so today we discovered the true story of Ardbeg’s shorty the dog, went bog trotting, got some of the Ardbeg festival bottling and tasted Port Charlotte 5.

But to start, it is the Kilchoman open day. After last years miserable experience  we could not tempt our better halves out to queue for a festival bottle, so Pat and I set off. They had double the number of bottles this year and the queue was shorter, so we got out by 11:30 with our two bottles. They stamped our hands when we left, presumably to stop us joining the queue again! We bought a minature of the spring 2011 for contrast.

Kilchoman Festival bottling:
 creamy with late pepper very peaty, quite chunky 
Taste: Earthy, early pepper that fades a bit.
Finish: spice remains but the rest is not that long.

Overall: An honest, peaty whisky. In my opinion Kilchoman is  improving with age, the early expressions had the “old” peat ammonia I dont like.  That seems to have gone now. This has more pepper than earlier ones, which were closer to Bruichladdich peat than say ardbeg. Its a bridge between Talisker and Islay says Pat. Thats a very long bridge.

Kilchoman Spring 2011:

Nose: Germaline and plasters says pat, not sure about that. Green fruits. Soft peaty nose.
Taste: Softer peat than the Feis bottling, no real pepper, but then its  not as strong. Getting a slight alcohol burn. Dry peat.
Finish: Licorice. quite short though,

Overall: I think I may have preferred the winter 2010 (thats in our islay pack), but its definitely better than the earlier ones, its maturing and I could happily quaff either of them. Pat likes it a lot, more than the Feis bottling. I prefer the Feis.

Next up we set off to the south coast for the rest of the day. Lunch at Ardbeg, and because pat and bex are  flying out early saturday morning they let us get their festival bottles early. What lovely people they are there. We have not tasted it yet, I’m pretty wary really, sherry matured ardbeg sounds just wrong! I’ll blog about it on saturday. It costs £90, There are 1000 bottles available of saturday, so should be plenty for everyone.  

After a lunch of scallops Pat and Bex went on the distillery tour, michelle and I set off to find the plague village of Solem. It was hard work, wellies essential and the wind was picking up. The dog enjoyed getting in touch with his irish routes by bounding around in the mud. Its a rough and rugged landscape, it felt like a mini adventure as we stumbled up and down hills not knowing where we were. I dont think we actually found the village, but we did get some stunning views back over the coast to Ardbeg.

2 hours later we crawled back to ardbeg, where a supernova from the bar (£2.50 for 25ml! Bargain) restored some life into me. Pat and Bex had just finished a tasting after the tour in Ardbeg’s store where they keep examples of all the expressions they have released. Apparently they have loads of unlabelled bottled whiskies that they dont know what it is!

Time then for clothes shopping for pat, who wanted a new jacket. The laga offerings did not suit, so it was back to Laphroaig for the third time this week. There we were chatting to Briony behind the counter who it turns out owns the Ardbeg mascot Shorty the dog! Apparently just happened to be down at Ardbeg when the marketing chaps visited, and they fell in love with her dog. Ironic she now works for Laphroaig. Shorty is now 14 and not as lively as  he was. They had him down for a photo shoot for the Ardbeg website and wanted him to frantically scratch a door trying to get out. Apparently this is not in his nature, so they had to tape lumps of lamb to the frame of the door to evoke the required response.

Anyway, with pat suitably attired in his new Laphroaig jacket, we headed home and I soaked in the huge bath at cross house with a large Lagavulin. For supper we went to the Bridgend hotel. Nice place, food about £10-£18 for a main, friendly staff. We were however surrounded by posh folk. Behind me were four people clearly off the three mast ship moored at port ellen who were discussing the relative merits of shooting vs golf. two my left were two seemingly prepubescent lawyers talking loudly about million pound deals. Still, the main event for me was their whisky list. Now by islay standards it wass nothing special, except for the fact they have Port Charlotte 5 for sale for £7 per measure. Given it is on sale for £500 a bottle in the whisky spar this is a bargain, and I have always wanted to try it. My verdict: its very peaty! I liked it, a simple peaty dram that I now no longer have to think about buying to complete my PC set, phew.

Another great islay day, tomorrow we are off to Jura via Bunna.

So we have done bugger all to promote WTC whilst here, we are not really cut out for PR. I read on cask strength our competitors masters of malt were dishing out free samples of their “drinks by the dram” minatures, and the wt company have sets on sale in the whisky spar in bowmore, although who will buy them is a mystery, when you compare their offering to the rest of the cabinet. Its a hobby business for us, we will rely on “organic growth”, but we should do at least some self promotion.

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