Provenance: Island of Islay (Scotland)
Typology: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon
Added coloring: Yes
Owner: The Vintage Malt Whisky Company Ltd.
Average price: € 45.00
Official website: www.vintagemaltwhisky.com
There is no doubt that in recent years whisky, and Scotch in particular, has been experiencing a second youth: after a major crisis at the end of the last century, we now have a flourishing of distilleries and bottlings as never seen before.
Alongside the individual distilleries, producing whisky in-house or for inclusion in the blends of larger houses, there are also a number of companies buying casks in stock to bottle on their own account.
Sometimes they reveal their provenance (as do the various Gordon&MacPhail, Cadenhead’s, Valinch & Mallet), sometimes it remains hidden, as in the case of Ileach.
Given the name (meaning “man from Islay”), the only thing certain about the whisky is that it comes from the well-known peated island, but which distillery it comes from (or whether there are more than one) is not known, even though some say it’s from a distillery which name starts with a L.
The bottling company owns another brand with an unknown provenance from Islay, Finlaggan, and was founded by Brian Crook, who had a long experience in Bowmore.
This brand is not very well known in Italy (but it’s starting to appear in some big supermarkets), but for unknown reasons it’s very famous in Sweden, where The Ileach is the second best-selling bottle.
The dark amber, the result of abundant colouring, is well paired with the colours chosen for the label, getting you in a good disposition towards the whisky (honestly, on a fake colour, what else could I possibly say?).
On the nose comes, overpowering, a strong scent of barbecue, more precisely barbecue sauce, very meaty. Strangely absent is the sting of the strong alcoholic content, and under the layer of barbecue come burnt peat, medicinal notes and a metallic, almost annoying, hint.
The nose makes you fear that the barbecue will eat it all up, but on the palate a variety of scents emerge: nothing complex, let’s be clear, a little rough and young, but not as monochrome as you might expect. The alcohol content makes itself felt (less so than expected), along with a wave of smoky peat that is always meaty. More medicinal and salty notes, together with a hint of herbaceous and bitterish scents. In the long run, the alcohol content becomes arrogant and tends to kill the various scents.
In the finish, the smokiness (and wood, at the same time) remains overpowering, with a hint of barbecue ribs (which if you like them, as I do, is not so bad).
A certainly young NAS, understanding the distillery (or distilleries) of origin may prove to be a sterile exercise: the hints of Islay are there, a little messy and brutal, but the appeal of this whisky is definitely its price. It’s hard to find a bottle of cask strength Islay as cheap as this: sure, it’s not one you would put in a place of honour on the shelf, but when you don’t feel like stirring up the embers this is an honest substitute.
The Scotch Noob