Saturday 25th May 2013 was Lagavulin Day at the Fèis Ìle but more importantly it was the day that the Master of Malt team ‘uncovered’ a number of priceless bottles of Malt Mill new-make spirit.* It was previously believed that only one bottle, from the final filling, was crudely preserved for posterity when this near mythical distillery closed its doors in 1962. Extraordinarily, we now know that a further four bottles have survived from the second-to-last right down to the to the fifth-to-last fillings.** A spokesperson has said that it is “unlikely” that any further bottles are still out there.
Michael and Cat model two of the newly discovered bottles*** outside the old Malt Mill distillery building.
Jake and Ben model the other two bottles. The building is now used as a reception centre by Lagavulin.
Malt Mill second-to-last to fifth-to-last filling samples (left to right)
In other news, the following cask has been spotted around the island. It moves like it has a mind of its own and what it really wants to do is offer you a sample of That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s Caol Ila – Batch 1!
The single greatest ‘thing’ ever?
Meanwhile, at Lagavulin Day:
Sun, sea and drams.
It’s fair to say the seafood is quite fresh around here.
Lagavulin Fèis Ìle 2013 18 Year Old – 51.0% abv
This year’s festival bottling from Lagavulin is an 18 year old selected by Iain McArthur and 3000 bottles have been released. Distilled in 1995, it was matured in European oak sherry butts.
Tasting Note for Lagavulin Fèis Ìle 2013 18 Year Old
Nose: Clean, intense Sherry. Some sweet barley, more herbal notes develop.
Palate: Rich, precise, fruit on a big palate. Tremendous.
Finish: Clean and fruity, it lingers slightly elusively or, as I’ve actually noted down, it in fact “hovers like Marty McFly’s skateboard”.
Overall: Fantastic 'old sherry' character. Ben says this is one of the best he’s tasted in quite a while, which is high praise indeed!
20 year old Lagavulin (from the cask)
The inimitable Diageo ambassador Colin Dunn was in attendance and offered us a sample taken directly from a cask that very morning.
[Plastic cup in the wind] Tasting Note for 20 YO Lagavulin (from the cask):
Nose: Engine oil with a little Crunchy Nut.
Palate: Warm lemon, touch of ash, passion fruit / starfruit, crushed peanuts.
Finish: Drying, savoury Lagavulin peat and nuttiness.
Overall: “Dirty.” I liked this one.
Lagavulin 1996 Pedro Ximénez Finish – Distillers Edition – 43% – £61.37
Drams available to sample in the courtyard included Lagavulin’s excellent Distiller’s Edition.
Tasting Note for Lagavulin 1996 Pedro Ximénez Finish – Distillers Edition
Nose: Nutmeg, dates, prunes and Crunchy Nut Clusters specifically. (What was it with Crunchy Nut yesterday?! I’m clearly going mad.)
Palate: Hazelnut caramel, cocoa, Christmas cake.
Finish: Rich with rum and raisin.
Overall: Classic deliciousness, possibly tasted by a nut.
So ends our first day on Islay, which also saw Ben nearly bleed to death after stubbing his toe. Luckily, Cat was on hand to buy half of Bowmore pharmacy to save him from the life-threatening ‘hurty’ toe.
Once we arrived back home all that was left was to kick back and enjoy the UEFA Champions League final (much to the annoyance of everyone else) with a nice, refreshing beverage...
* These events may not have happened.
** Potential fiction klaxon.
*** For removal of all doubt, this is in fact total bollocks.