Character of Islay Whisky

Disclosure: Some blog posts contain commission links. Rest assured that these links never influence my reviews.

Last year, Atom Brands launched the Character of Islay Whisky Company with its first release Aerolyte Lyndsay 10 years. The name is an anagram, by the way, of Ten Year Old Islay. So, it's, ahem, an Islay whisky from an undisclosed distillery and, although two samples were included in the tasting pack sent to me by Atom, as I've already added my tasting notes to Mark's review over on MALT, I won't include them here. Have a wee nosey over there instead.

The pack also included three other Islay drams: Green Isle, Grace Île and Fiona Macleod.

The first of the three, Green Isle, is a blend. And a cracking wee blend at that, it has to be said. Priced around the £25 - 30 mark, this reminds me of today's Black Bottle; the peat is there but it seems more smoky than peaty.

The next two drams come with pretty hefty age statements. Grace Île is a 25 year old and her pal, Fiona, is 33. Whenever whisky is bottled from an undisclosed distillery, folk can't help themselves from going all malty Miss Marple trying to work out where it's from. Something I'm certainly guilty of myself. It's more out of curiosity really because I can't help but think that, for some reason, that particular whisky at some point didn't meet the flavour profile requirements for that particular distillery and that's why it wasn't bottled as a proprietary bottling. I'm certainly not saying that means the whisky isn't good - quite the opposite for these two expressions, in fact - I'm just saying it probably was / is different. And whereas sometimes we look for consistency in our whisky, at other times we seek out those quirks.

So is Fiona Macleod actually Bunnahabhain? Although the abv of the latter hints at it, the video also hints at Bruichladdich and both were distilling in 1985. But then, what about Grace Île? The only time I've ever seen a grey seal on Islay was when I was at Portnahaven which is close to Bruichladdich. But those seals also hang out at Lagavulin so maybe...? Ach, who knows? I guess it'd probably just be for the best if I put my handbag and knitting away and got on with tasting them.

As there are three drams, I decided to set myself the challenge of summarising the nose and palate of each one in just three notes. Here goes:

GREEN ISLE - NAS - 40% - £29.95

Nose: fresh cooking apples; unripe pears; gentle peat smoke

Palate: salty popcorn; Malted Milk biscuits; slightly ashy

GRACE ÎLE - 25 YEARS - 48% - £299.95

Nose: grape juice; toffee apples; pencil sharpenings

Palate: roast pork; apple crumble and ice cream; lemon bonbons

FIONA MACLEOD - 33 YEARS - 46.3% - £399.95

Nose: coffee cake; chocolate orange; Gauloises

Palate: grilled pineapple; coffee creams; mango chutney

Of the three, the Green Isle is perfect for the price. The peat is gentle and this is definitely a whisky to drink from a tumbler - preferably one that you could keep topping up all evening. I used to love really heavily peated whiskies but, over the last few years, my taste buds have changed and I tend to go for more subtle peated numbers these days. Grace Île and Fiona Macleod are cracking whiskies albeit not as bank account friendly. However, if money's no object and you fancy it, the above links are commission links so knock yourself out ;-)

Thanks to Ros at Atom Brands for kindly sending me these drams.

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