The Grace Île is a recent addition to the range of single malts in the The Character of Islay series from Atom Brands. The range also includes the Aerolite Lyndsay 10 years old and The Legend of Fiona Macleod 33 years old, plus the blended Green Isle. Each 'character' in the range is designed to show historical references to Islay's whisky history and the quirks associated with the Hebridean island.
The Grace Île pays reference to the playful grey seals that frequent the waters around Islay and is bottled at 25 years of age. It has been matured for the full term in American oak and is from an un-named Islay distillery. It is bottled at 48% ABV and is non chill-filtered and of natural colour. The Grace Île 25 years old will cost £299.95 and is available online via www.masterofmalt.com and selected specialist retailers.
Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose exhibits a lovely mix of heavy malt aromas and sweetness. Cereal aromas mingle with golden syrup, heather honey and butterscotch with a hint of vanilla. Then comes the savoury peat smoke, which has an oily and slightly ashy feel to it. Underneath are further hints of stewed apples, dried seaweed and a pinch of baking spices.
On the palate this whisky is initially super sweet. The sugary tang hits your tongue and explodes - think of golden syrup (or is it maple?), toffee and a hint of icing sugar. Then comes the robust cereals again in the form of a heavy and bittersweet maltiness. It grips the taste buds. There is also some fruity characteristics evident - imagine green apple (although these are more fresh, crisp and a little sour compared to the nose), lemon zest and a hint of over ripe peach.
Then there is the savoury peat smoke. This is never far away and entwines itself around everything. It is earthy with an ashy, almost charcoal like quality. Hints of damp moss, seaweed and a pinch of sea salt add further depth.
The finish is long with the smoky/ peaty notes coming more to the fore. The sweeter and fruity elements fade a little quickly and this leaves the smoke and malty notes to fight it out. The smoke wins to leave a drying ashy heat in the mouth.
What's the verdict?
The Grace Île 25 years old is a lovely whisky and one that offers plenty. It is multi-layered and complex - first it is sweet, then malty, then fruity, then smoky. These characteristics combine to give a wonderful warmth and depth. We particularly enjoyed the heavy malty, almost biscuity quality.
This is a whisky that shows just how good older Islay single malts can be with careful cask maturation. The price is also reasonable given the rarity of whisky of this age from the famous whisky island. After all, it has been maturing for a quarter of a century.