Here’s a new line of Islay single malts from Specialty Drinks, an extension of The Whisky Exchange. (The bottle doesn’t tell you which distillery this whisky came from, but if you look at a map of Islay you can probably figure it out.) There’s also a cask strength expression, with no age statement. For some reason, they didn’t send me a sample of that one (fearing I wouldn’t like it?). I assume it’s a younger version.
Port Askaig, 17 year old, 45.8%, £50
I like this expression better than the more expensive 25 year old. There’s impeccable balance and more vibrancy in this 17 year old, with seaweed, smoked Spanish olive, coal soot, pencil shavings, citrus and anise, along with subtle kipper and picked ginger. All this is layered on a bed of oily, honeyed malt. Salty, peppery, sooty, tarry finish. Nicely done!
Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91
Port Askaig, 25 year old, 45.8%, £75
Still in the same vein as its 17 year old sibling reviewed above. But it’s softer, mellower, with more wood impact (especially on the nose and back end of the palate) and tea leaves. Perhaps even some mild tobacco. Darker sugars too in this one (molasses?) rather than honey. And more berried fruit along with the citrus, which struggles more to reveal itself. Dry, resinous finish. An enjoyable dram, even if the wood outstays its welcome. But if you have to pick between the two expressions, go for the 17 year old and pocket the change with a smile on your face.
Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 85