The Scalasaig Island Hopper

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This is a new one on me. I'd never heard of The Scalasaig until I came across it prior to yesterday's Tweet Tasting.

The Scalasaig

It's a blended malt from Colonsay Beverages Ltd which has its headquarters on, you guessed it, the island of Colonsay. The company originally started off as a brewery, before releasing a gin and then, in September last year, their first whisky release appeared.

Although it doesn't carry an age statement, the components are between six and eight years old. It's a vatting of ten different casks, with Caol Ila and some heavily peated Bunnahabhain as key elements. There are also components from Mull and Orkney as well as a sherry matured single malt from an undisclosed coastal distillery. This blended malt was finished in dry Oloroso sherry casks for a period of twelve months.As a big fan of Caol Ila - and young Caol Ila at that - this sounds promising. And the colour of this dram is extremely inviting.

THE SCALASAIG ISLAND HOPPER - NAS - 43%

Nose: instantly noticeably briny; very fresh and youthful; there are notes of red apple which become more toffee apple-like after a while; there are hints of warm salted caramel brownies followed by grilled pineapples; there's a subtle peaty note which does intensify the longer it's in the glass.

Palate: the texture is a bit thinner than I was expecting (that colour gave me the impression it'd be much thicker); strong ginger note at the fore; this is very salty and the saltiness increases into the finish; there are hints of figs together with dark chocolate; there's a BBQ sauce sweetness throughout.

Overall, this is something I would enjoy as an everyday sipper. It's nicely balanced and whereas the peat is obvious, it's not overwhelming. I guess the only niggle I have is with the price. Retailing around the £45-50 mark, it's not too bad; I understand that this inaugural release - Maiden Voyage - is limited to 3000 bottles and perhaps it could be argued that this, together with the sherry cask maturation, commands a slightly higher premium. It's just if you take a look at similar offerings, for example, Douglas Laing's Rock Island (formerly Rock Oyster), this non age statement expression retails for around £38 with the ten years old around the £40 mark. So, at a few quid more and bottled at a lower strength, if you only have a certain amount to spend, you may be drawn elsewhere.

The Scalasaig Island Hopper is available from Lockett Bros for £45 (+ £5 delivery).

Many thanks to Steve from The Whisky Wire and to The Scalasaig for the sample.

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