The Legend of Fiona Macleod is a single malt that sits at the top of the Character of Islay whisky range that has been created by Atom Brands. It is joined in the range by the Green Isle blend and two further single malts - the Aerolite Lyndsay 10 years old and Grace Île 25 years old. All the whiskies are designed to explore the brand's play on the romanticism of the island of Islay. Each 'character' in the range is designed to show historical references to Islay's whisky history and the quirks associated with the Hebridean island.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 Legend of Fiona Macleod refers to the pen name of William Sharp, a man who chronicled traditional Hebridean and Ileach tales in the 19th century. It is bottled at 33 years of age and comes from an un-named distillery on the famous whisky island of Islay. The natural cask strength is 46.3% ABV and the whisky is non chill-filtered and of natural colour. A bottle will cost £399.95 and is available online via Master of Malt and other selected specialist retailers.
Our tasting notes
The colour is surprisingly pale for a whisky of such age and has a lovely lemon yellow hue. The nose is immediately classy and sophisticated with aromas of tropical fruits (especially pineapple and over ripe banana), vanilla pods and fragrant Spring flowers. It has an elegance to it that is added to by further aromas of white chocolate, cocoa powder and delicate sweet peat smoke. This has the faintest whiff of soot to it.
On the palate this whisky carries on its elegant journey. The peat smoke is initially more prominent than on the nose but maintains the sweet delicacy. Underneath is more of the sooty and ashy quality that was hinted at on the nose. Then comes a wave of notes that wrap around and compliment the smoky elements - there are Palma Violet sweets, followed by a vanilla custard made with pungent vanilla pods mixed with a tropical fruit salad of pineapple, mango, soft banana and a hint of lychee. Hints of gingerbread and candied lemon add further depth, as does a late savoury hit that has a damp earthy edge to it. This note was most reminiscent of moss and seaweed.
The finish is long with a lovely sweetness to it. This has a hint of white chocolate and icing sugar to it as well as some increasingly evident bittersweet malty and cereal notes. The delicate smoke slowly fades to leave a pleasant dryness in the mouth. Absolutely delicious.
What's the verdict?
Well, you can probably tell from the tasting notes that we thoroughly enjoyed this. The Legend of Fiona Macleod is elegant, classy and sophisticated. These are not words that are often used to describe whiskies from Islay, but here is a single malt that shows just how good older Islays can be. The smoke becomes more integrated than in younger expressions and mellows.
This whisky has obviously been carefully managed in a good cask for over three decades as the cask characteristics have perfectly complimented those of the spirit, wherever it may be from. Do not be surprised if this makes our Top 10 list at the end of the year. It is a fabulous dram.