Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry
Added coloring: Yes
Owner: Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd
Official website: www.ianmacleod.com
One of the reasons for the great success of Scotch, especially in the past century, is undoubtedly the production of blends, which, with their smooth taste and affordable price, contributed to the widespread diffusion of Scotch whisky around the world, supplanting Irish whiskey in the United States after the end of Prohibition.
Ian Macleod, a well-known blender and trader at the time, invented this blended (it is said) around 1930, choosing the name as a tribute to the Macleod clan, which has had strong ties to the island since the 14th century.
Not just Skye whisky as the name might suggest, but a blend of peated whiskies from the islands and unpeated ones from Speyside and the Highlands, obviously in undisclosed proportions, chosen from malts and grains.
There are several expressions in the line, with the packaging renewed in 2021, which starts at 8 years and goes up to 30 years of ageing, with some special editions such as the 50yo released in 1999.
Isle of Skye 12yo
Average price: € 40.00
This 12 year old is the second oldest in the series, with a screw cap, described as ‘limited batch release’ (whatever that means) and generically referred to as being aged in oak barrels, which reliable sources indicate divided between ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry.
All the souls of the blend appear on the nose: red fruits (raspberries, wild strawberries), plums and cooked cream (like the caje Far Breton), pears in spirit, cereals, almonds and a rather pronounced mineral vein, at times with coastal evocations. Of peat in its smoky incarnation there is no trace here, the whole is quite harmonious albeit with some initial alcoholic excess.
An ethereal note of smoke appears at the mouth, very elusive, vanishing amidst the influences of red fruits and nuts, veering towards tones of liquorice, vanilla, chestnut honey, spicy touches (pepper, cinnamon, ginger), lemon peel and vegetal notes. The aftertaste reproposes the mineral and saline side, in which the light, toasted wood smoke also returns. Simple but compact and quite drinkable.
Not very long finish dominated by vegetal notes, salty ash, liquorice, nuts and unripe melon.
I admit I was surprised, I had very low expectations and instead I found an obviously simple but well-balanced and full blended, with a sufficiently broad aromatic palette to allow for relaxed and non-trivial drinking.
Isle of Skye 18yo
Average price: € 140.00
Launched in 2015 and third in order of maturity, it has the same profile as its younger sibling, unfortunately still at the minimum alcohol content and always listed as Limited Batch Release.
The nose picks up the thread of the 12yo but with a softer, fruitier impact, where dried apricots, peaches, mangoes and raspberries combine with honey, yoghurt plum cake, almond candies and citrus tones. There is a clear mineral vein running through the aromas, in a full and delicate whole in which once again the peat part is the great absentee (but without remorse).
On the palate, we find the same softness, enlivened by a spicy accent (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg), which is soon soaked by more sour and bitter notes of anise, liquorice root, coffee and leather. At a distance, a faint saline and peaty impression peeps through the flavours. The contrast works, without excess and with a certain harmony between the two souls that compensate each other.
The finish is quite short and dry, of red fruits, spicy hints, slight citrus notes and salt.
The peated part is practically absent, a distant memory that is barely present on the palate, but beyond this the balances work and show a blended with interesting potential, especially in the game of contrasts, unfortunately extinguished by the dreaded alcohol content that kills it definitively in the finish. It remains a pleasant drindram, but nothing more.