Port Ellen

Review: Laphroaig 10 Year Old Sherry Oak Finish Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48%
Aging
10 yrs; Ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

This isn’t too far of a cry from the old Laphroaig Triple Wood, which I guess is gone now - we are on to four wood (really?…), the 10 year, quarter cask, and this one. But, 10 years, sherry finish, 48% - I’m interested, even if sherry and peat can be perilous…


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L1 026 SBI 2034 15:50

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

·         Bottling Date: ~2020

Without even comparing to other bottlings or rating – that nose on Laphroaig is so great. It’s been too long…

Charred chickpeas, smoke, wet earth, baking spice, vanilla, smoked almonds, and some classic, interesting medicinal notes – bandaids and iodine. It isn’t as vibrant or “together” as the best Laphroaig noses. There are some dense bready notes here too – interesting, reminding me of dense pumperknickel. The palate is richly earthy and spicy, if not a bit thin. There is a big backbone of dried fruit, and the tannins are perfect. Peppery. Nice. The finish is really earthy, and the nutty/fruity character of the sherry opposes the peat in a way that is interesting – not necessarily opposing but also not necessarily complementing.

It doesn’t have the punch or elegance (dare I say it?) of quarter cask, nor the delicate balance between cask and spirit, but there is more going on here. Fruity, with a more clean and narrow portrayal of peat smoke. Delicious stuff.

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $100.


Review: Laphroaig Cairdeas Pedro Ximinez Casks by Jason Hambrey

ABV
58.9%
Aging
Pedro Ximinez Finish
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

This whisky went through three casks - first fill American ex-bourbon barrels, American ex-bourbon quarter casks, before being finished in European oak hogsheads which contained pedro ximinez (PX) sherry.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Pedro Ximinez Casks

  • Bottling Code: L102D SBD 2022 15:26

  • Bottling Date: 2021

It’s strong, but not as smoky as I wish. The PX certainly adds sweetness and stone fruit – peach, apricot, and canned peaches and apricot – in surprising strength given how much flavour is in your base Laphroaig. Vanilla, caramel, and some other confectionary notes – and toasted barley notes. A nice kick of bourbon cask notes! Those creamy, oaky, dried stone fruit notes. On the nose, it’s younger or less developed than your standard laphroaigs. The palate is smoky, and quite sweet and fruity. It’s slightly sour. The vegetal smoke is in every corner here, but there is sweet fruit, almost syrupy, finding its way into the corners as well. The finish is smoky, sweet, and fruity (hmm…does that help anyone? The finish has some intriguing floral notes of lavender, combined with clove and a touch of nutmeg, wet earth, earthy smoke – like burning wet wood, candied orange, hazlenuts, and cinnamon. The smoke and nuttiness are at the core of the finish – everything else is at the edges. Lots going on.)

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: I’m not sure I’d ever turn up my nose at a cask strength laphroaig at $120.


Review: Ardbeg Wee Beastie Islay Single Malt Whisky 5 Years Old by Jason Hambrey

ABV
47.4%
Aging
Ex-bourbon and oloroso; 5 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Ardbeg (Port Ellen, Scotland)

It’s pretty great to see age statements coming from Ardbeg, even on something as young as this. The smokiness of peated whiskies decreases with age, so we might expect this one to be on the smokier side. I quite like young, good malt as long as the oiliness isn’t too raw (I didn’t use to, this has come with time). So I expect this one to be up my alley.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: N/A

The nose is rich, oily, smoky, briny, and almost a bit waxy. Not nearly as refined or delicate as the 10 year old, one of my favourites – but it has a really nice appeal to it at just 5 years. There is really nice complexity here – no surprise – and it’s very Ardbeg (is there any point in saying that?)….

The palate is quite sweet, full of smoke, brine, dried fruit notes, touches of sherry, black pepper, spinach, brown sugar, and apple. The finish is a bonfire on the beach, with some dried fruit, vanilla, and raisins.

I like it, but I do feel like Ardbeg could have done better. I was hoping for something a bit more intense and oily, a bit surprised to find something more on the subtle and delicate side. But, very good.

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Upper end of average at $85.


Review: Ledaig 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Ledaig 10 1.jpg
ABV
46.3%
Aging
10 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Tobermory (Tobermory, Scotland)

Ledaig whiskies are the brand of peated whiskies produced by Tobermory - a full 50% of Tobermory's production goes towards Ledaig. It was first introduced in 1996, and it is made from malt peated to 35-40 ppm at Port Ellen maltings. Ledaig translates to "Safe Haven".


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Huge smoky nose, with some green cardamom and anise seed mixed in. BBQ chips. This malt is known for being a bit farmyard-y – indeed it is! A good bit of mineral character to it as well. Great peat. Slightly dry, and rich as well. A light sweetness comes through as well – a terrific, smoky malt nose. And some maritime characteristics as well. Seashells. Quite savory.

The palate is rich, with lots of sharp, mineral peat and underlying sweetness. Terrific. Layers of smoke, charred/smoky BBQ aromas, soot, vanilla, green fennel, and a touch of caraway.

Earthy peat on the finish, still with a fair bit of herbal and herbal spice (i.e. fennel seed, celery seed) type flavours. Very nice, and a big, bold finish. I like it a lot more than the unpeated Tobermory.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High at $68. But not high value if you don’t like peat!


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 1921007L 512:1919032

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

Big, dry, ashy peat. Very nice, very sharp. Smoking leaves, woodsmoke, vanilla, stale oat cakes, and a bit of iodine. I really like the nose. It has a nice, appealing, raw-ness. The palate leads with lots of smoke, ash, a deep mineral character, and lingering, clingy peat. Dark chocolate too, and some dried peach which really brings it all together. The finish has a bit of tobacco, wet fall leaves, smoke, and baking spice. Light tannin. A winner – I love the stuff!

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, simply because this is probably the lowest of the good peated Scotch! $70 in Canada.


Review: Ardbeg An Oa Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Ardbeg+An+Oa+1.jpg
ABV
46.6%
Aging
PX Sherry, Charred New Oak, and Ex-Bourbon
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Ardbeg (Port Ellen, Scotland)

This Ardbeg has a bit of a focus on French oak, and introduced as part of Arbeg’s core range in 2017. As is the growing trend these days, it has some charred new oak in it and was married in a French oak vat to bring together the varying flavours created from the sweet, dried fruit character of the PX cask, the creamy corn influence from the ex-bourbon cask, and the oaky, sweet character of the new oak.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L70562 13/07/2018 18007341 11:42

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose is so rich – cacao, deep smoke, charred lemon peel, fresh lemon peel, rich earth, ground unroasted almonds, baking spices, iodine, turf fires, and biscuits. A touch of brilliant minerality, dried brown rice, dried apricot, prune, plum jam, and sharp smoke. A fascinating nose, and very Ardbeg. The youth is a bit present on the nose, but it’s a good youth.

The palate has an incredible dried smoky character to it, like charred chickpea or nut skins. Further, rockpools, white pepper, and coconut oil. And some sweet oak, ketchup (indeed), and a finish full of a smoked sea character (smoky seaweed, smoked fish, etc.). The finish is dry, oaky (French oak, quite so), ashy, and slightly marine. Minerality comes out on the finish more than other places.

A very nice whisky. How does it compare to the 10? This is a bit younger (more oily, a bit more raw) – smokier but not as fruity or balanced, or, indeed, as intriguing. But a bit bigger, and perhaps richer – but less mature. So, it depends what you are after. I like both quite a bit, but prefer the 10, which has the best of this – but more elegantly integrated and balanced. All that to say – this is still fantastic, and it’s a welcome addition to the range for me.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. A very nice peated whisky, but at a price. On a value scale, it’s better to go for the 10, which I find a tad better, and is a bit cheaper. Nonetheless, this is a decent buy if you like smoky, peated whiskies.