Monday, August 5, 2013
Have just tried - Islay Mist Peated Reserve
The origins of the brand date back to 1922, when it was first blended on the famous whisky island of Islay to celebrate the 21st birthday of Lord Margadale. The local single malt of Laphroaig was used as the base for the blend, as it still is today. It was thought that the very peaty flavours and aromas of the single malt may have been too challenging for his guests, so the Laphroaig was blended with some softer Speyside malts and grain whiskies to create Islay Mist. The Peated Reserve is bottled at 40% ABV and should cost between £25-30 a bottle from specialist whisky retailers.
Our tasting notes
The colour is a dark golden amber and the nose is full of savoury smoky aromas. The smokiness comes across as a mix of damp wet earth and moss, and has a medicinal edge that catches the nostrils and is reminiscent of surgical bandages with a hint of menthol. Underneath are aromas of caramel, dark dried fruits (think of raisins especially), oat cookies, golden syrup, malted cereals and a whiff of smoked kippers and candied orange peel.
On the palate this whisky is initially very smoky but it is soft and gentle, licking around the taste buds like cool bonfire smoke. The smoke again has a savoury edge, which tends much more towards the earthy and mossy direction than on the nose. The slight bitterness created by the smoky element is balanced by some simple but lovely sweetness. This is reminiscent of honeycomb and golden syrup, and is backed up by further notes of malty cereal grains, juicy raisins and candied orange peel. There are also further background elements that come through and add some good depth and complexity - think of salted caramel, cinnamon spice and hints of menthol and eucalyptus.
The finish is a little on the short side, although the smoky earthiness does hang around for a while creating a pleasant dryness in the mouth. This is accentuated once the sweeter notes, especially the lovely honey-like one, disappear. A slight saltiness also appears right towards the end.
What's the verdict?
This Peated Reserve is a lovely example of a smoky blended whisky and one of the best in the genre that we have sampled to date. It packs a good smoky punch but feels soft, sweet and quite gentle in the mouth. This should keep the smoky whisky fans happy, while also making it a good choice for a beginner being introduced to smoky/peaty whisky and its flavours. It also offers cracking value for money at £25-30 a bottle and is well worth searching out for that reason alone. Good quality stuff.