Kensington Wine Market's 2023 Whisky Calendar UBER EDITION Day 5 - Port Askaig 28 Year Old Islay Single Malt
Posted on December 5, 2023
We are heading to Islay for Day Five’s dram in the UBER Edition of our 2023 KWM Whisky Calendar. Today, we taste the Port Askaig 28 Year Old Islay Single Malt Scotch.
For many of us who have made the pilgrimage to Islay, Port Askaig is where we the ferry landing where we disembarked from the CalMac Ferry and went off to explore the rest of the island. Port Askaig is on the east coast, on the Sound of Islay. East of the Town and about 1 KM across the Sound is the Isle of Jura. Distillery-wise, Caol Ila is closest to the town and ferry landing and is about a five-minute drive to the North. The Ardnahoe Distillery and Bunnahabhain Distillery to the north are also within seven and twelve minutes by car, respectively. While the Port has been used for hundreds of years as on of the main berths between Islay and Jura as well as the Scottish Mainland, the town at the port itself only consists of a handful of houses, a hotel, a gas station, and a shop or two.
Named after the village of Port Askaig itself, the Port Askaig Islay Single Malt label is owned by Elixir Distillers. The company also owns a few other brands you may have heard of, including The Elements Of Islay, The Single Malts Of Scotland, The Whisky Trail, and The Black Tot Rum brand. Over the past few years, Elixir has been quietly expanding and looking towards a bigger future. The Tormore Distillery in Speyside was purchased from Pernod Ricard in 2022, and there is an Islay distillery currently being built as well. The planned Portintruan Distillery will reside on the island between Port Ellen and Laphroaig.
The main range of the Port Askaig lineup consists of an 8-Year-Old and the 100 Proof. Limited runs of older whisky are sometimes available as well, including a 25-Year-Old, the 28-Year-Old we are tasting today, and a 45-Year-Old. Though Port Askaig it is a line of mystery Islay single malts and the source of each batch of Port Askaig is not usually disclosed, much of the whiskies bottled under the label are reputed to come from the Caol Ila distillery. That doesn’t mean they are all Caol Ila, though. Other distilleries that have possibly been bottled under the Port Askaig name include Bunnahabhain and Laphroaig.
This 28 Year Old Port Askaig is actually of unknown provenance. Elixir Distillers purchases a batch of casks that were labelled “Islay Single Malt”, with no distillery name attached. Oliver Chilton of Elixir – who does most of the cask selection for Elixir’s various whisky lineups - has mentioned that this parcel of casks has a similarity to Laphroaig Single Malt around the same age he has tasted.
Regardless of whether this is Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain, Laphroaig, or something else: what matters is what we think of it. Shall we give it a go?
Bottled at 45.8%, after maturing in Refill American Oak Hogsheads, this 28 year old Mystery Islay Single Malt scored 90pts with @WhiskyFun. While the blogosphere seems to think this is Caol Ila, we were told by the bottler they strongly believed it to be Laphroaig. Curious, but either way it is an amazingly good old Islay Single Malt Scotch at a stellar price!
Evan's Tasting Note
Nose: Briny tide pools and smoky embers from a campfire, malty grains, Weetabix cereal, a touch of chalky Parma Violet candies, prawns grilled with lemon slices and capers, and a touch of seaweed and iodine.
Palate: Soft, coastal, and smoky with smores fresh from the campfire, pink grapefruit juice, lemonade, dried seaweed snacks, salty cashews, and Parma Violet candy once more.
Finish: Ashy, salty, and slightly sweet with the lemonade note sticking around.
Comment: I have tried this whisky a few times now and I love it so much. I don’t care if it is Laphroaig, Caol Ila, or somehow Glenlivet. That doesn’t really matter – this is just a damn good dram.
Andrew's Tasting Note
Nose: dried apricots, candied lemon and melons; crème brule, creamed honey and Earl Grey tea ice cream; candied salmon and seared scallops with a balsamic reduction; surprisingly malty with clean smoke.
Palate: thick, coating and creamy; loads of vanilla, more creamed honey and velvety oak; tarry with soft earthy peat and clean peat smoke; rather spicy, fennel and clove; still fruit, more apricots, lemon and melon but also a touch of tropical fruits; still seafood-y.
Finish: long, coating, creamy and very fruity; tarry with more soft peat smoke and briny seafood-y tones.
Comment: lovely old stuff; I absolutely love the way that brash young peated whiskies mellow over time in the cask, developing in soft, round, fruity and elegant whiskies.
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