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Ileach Cask Strength

Ileach Cask Strength

$79.99

It is back and exclusive to KWM in Calgary again, bottled at 58%. The Ileach Cask Strength is a mystery malt from Islay. In other words, the distillery of origin is a mystery but, look closely at the label, and you'll see a couple of clues: the distillery has its own bay, presumably passable on only the one side; it's water-front has a distinct appearance; and could that be the ruins of the Dunyvaig Castle on the far right? Lagging behind and not understanding our not-so-subtle hints on which distillery this could be? Fear not - this is what makes Mystery Malts so much fun.

700ml ml
Region:Scotland > Islay
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Andrew's Tasting Note

Nose: pungent, this is classic Islay, maritime, smoky, salty and medicinal; lots of brine and chewy malt, some dark fruits, chocolate, leather and earthy tones; underneath a base of vanilla and toasty oak.

Palate: still maritime, smoky, tarry and medicinal, the whisky is earthy, leathery and malty; it is also big and rich, there is leather, tobacco and chocolate with loads of spices too.

Finish: tarry, leathery, peaty and chocolaty with salt and oils.

Comment: classic sherried Islay single malt; is it Lagavulin, Caol Ila, peated Bunnahabhain? We'll never know, but the whisky's label has clues!

Producer Tasting Note

Nose: earthy, smokey peat and salty ocean breeze.

Palate: pungent peat smoke and chewy sweet malt. Pepper, tar and a touch of iodine.

Finish: long and warming. Smokey ashes of the peat.

Lagavulin Distillery is nestled between Laphroaig and Ardbeg, on the southern coast of the Scottish Isle of Islay. The Queen of the Hebrides, as Islay is known, played a seminal role in the history of Scotland and the United Kingdom. The Lords of the Isles ruled the west coast of Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland from Islay, independent of England, Scotland and Denmark, for nearly four centuries, until 1493. After their defeat, the title ‘Lord of the Isles’ was incorporated into the Scottish, and eventually British, Royal Families. In addition to being the Prince of Wales, Charles is also Lord of the Isles.

The base of power for the Lords of the Isles was set on two tiny islands in Loch Finlaggan, not far from Port Askaig, in the north of the island. But Islay’s southern shore was also a power center. Remnants of this history can be seen at the haunting Kildalton Chapel, where a well-preserved 8th Century Celtic Cross was found. The coast is rugged and dotted with small, sheltered bays, including the one which protects Lagavulin. At the entrance to that bay, the ruins of the once impregnable Dunyvaig Castle can still be seen.

Lagavulin translates from Scots Gaelic to the Mill Hollow and is believed to be one of the oldest settlements on the island. Lagavulin Distillery was officially established in 1816, but there is some evidence of no fewer than 10 small illicit distilleries operating in bothies on or near the site as early as the 1740s. The Victorian whisky writer Alfred Barnard references a smuggling fraternity operating in the area as early as 1742. By 1816 the various operations had merged into a pair of side-by-side distilleries, Lagavulin and Ardmore, both of which had gone legit.

The Johnson family, founders of Lagavulin, acquired Ardmore in 1825 and by 1837 had absorbed it into the Lagavulin complex. The distillery began to attract wider acclaim in 1862 after it was purchased by the Blender Logan Mackie. Logan’s nephew Peter Mackie would become one of the pivotal figures in the Scotch whisky industry of the late 19th Century. Peter Mackie took charge of Lagavulin in 1878 and would also go on to establish the Craigellachie Distillery and found the White Horse blend.

In addition to Lagavulin, Mackie also represented the nearby Laphroaig Distillery, situated just two miles down the coast in another small bay. When this relationship ended in 1906 Mackie was incensed. He set about building a nearly perfect replica of Laphroaig at Lagavulin, and even poached a few of its employees. The new distillery was called Malt Mill, and while the heavily phenolic whisky was of good quality, the gamble never quite paid off; at least not in the way Mackie had hoped. Try as he might he just could not quite replicate Laphroaig. Malt Mill ceased production in 1962 and has never been seen as a single malt.

In 1927 White Horse Distillers, including Lagavulin, became part of DCL, a forbearer of Diageo, the world’s largest drinks company. The whisky was selected by the firm as one of its six Classic Malts in 1988, giving birth to Lagavulin 16 Year. A famous whisky writer, Michael Jackson, referred to it as the Aristocrat of Islay, for its elegant smoky profile. Incidentally, this was the whisky which got me interested in Scotch, and it remains a benchmark by which other mature Islay whiskies are still measured today.

In addition to the 16 Year there are annual releases of Lagavulin Distillers Edition (finished in PX Sherry) and a 12 Year Cask Strength. The most recent edition to the core range is an 8 Year, first released as a limited edition in 2016 to celebrate the distillery’s 200th Anniversary. It is a feistier expression, inspired by Alfred Barnard’s visit to the distillery in 1880s.

Lagavulin is open to the public for tours and tastings. If you decide to visit, I recommend taking the warehouse tour. It is worth the additional cost. And while there, do not pass up the opportunity to wander out to the Dunyvaig castle. The view looking back at the distillery is worth the walk!

The Vintage Malt Whisky Co. is an Independent Bottler, that owns the Cooper's Choice, Finlaggan & Ileach brands, to name just a few. We have always been impressed with not only the quality of liquid from the Vintage Malt Whisky Co., but also the value their brands offer. Their price to age and quality ration is almost second to none. The Ileach Cask Strength has been our best selling Islay whisky for nearly a decade! 

Producer Self Description Follows

Vintage Malt was founded in 1992 by Brian Crook, after many years in the whisky industry as Export Director for one of Scotland’s best known distillers. His aim was to produce a range of malt whiskies from his country’s finest distilleries and make them available to independent wine and spirit importers throughout the world.

Brian’s approach proved so popular with customers that, 25 years on, the company has exported more than 10 million bottles of malt whisky to more than 30 countries across the world, and is now recognised as one of Scotland’s leading independent bottlers.

The brands owned by Highlands & Islands Scotch Whisky Co joined the group in 1997, and in 2005 the company acquired CS James & Sons, producers of Islay Storm.

The group’s award winning brands include Finlaggan, The Ileach, and Islay Storm, all  single malts from the island of Islay on the west coast of Scotland and The Cooper’s Choice, a superb range of single cask bottlings.

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