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4 Islays together

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4 Islays together

Postby Nock » Sat Apr 09, 2005 11:08 am

Well, I am anxiously awaiting Lawrence doing that Ardbeg HTH. With that in mind I decided to have a fun of my own and have the 4 Islays I have on hand go at it. Just so you know this is my first time to try and communicate my tasting in print on this forum so please be gentle :oops: (but also feel free to correct me if I say something wrong) :)

The four are Ardbeg 10yo, Lagavulin 16yo, Laphroaig 10yo, and Finlaggan Old Reserve. I decided that while I was at it I would see if I could pick up on any similarities between the Finlaggan and any of the other three. Just a little “guess which one it could be from.”

First the color:
In my opinion the Finlaggan Old Reserve very closely resembled the color of the Lagavulin. The Laphroaig was much lighter then either and Ardbeg was lighter then that. But, then again it could all be dyes.

The nose:
Now here was the most telling factor for me. I described the Lagavulin as “a full rounded attack of smoke and peat.” (do you ever feel silly after you write this stuff down, and then have someone else read it? :oops: ) The Ardbeg in comparison while having plenty of peat smoke was also very oily and sweet. The Laphroaig as you all know is powerful peat. However, when compared to these other malts there is also something sweet that I found a bit off. Maybe this is what “medicinal” is referring to? Or maybe it was nutty? :? Mr. Jackson says “gooseberry sweetness”??) The Finlaggan I described as “heavy smoke and sweet seaweed.”

The body:
I was really surprised how this came out. I found the Lagavulin to have the fullest body of the four. The next closest was the Finlaggan. I expected the Laphroaig to be right there as well, but was surprised to find it more in the medium to full range. The Ardbeg was my biggest surprise being the weakest of the four – straight on medium.

The taste and finish:
(I have a hard time distinguishing between these two so I just lump them together)
The Lagavulin was very smoky with plenty of spicy peat, but in a rounded way with a long finish. However, there was also a bitterness to it that wasn’t so pleasant. The Laphroaig while also having plenty of smoke and peat was also very salty with that odd taste from the nose (maybe medicinal or nutty?) The Ardbeg was incredibly complex, it started off salty and sweet, but then it hits with a wave of smoke, peat and iodine, and it ends with a spicy finish. My only complaint was that the finish didn’t last longer (compared to Lavagulin and Laphroaig). I have to agree with Mr. Jackson description of Ardbeg, “Skips sweetly along at first, then becomes mean and moody.” Just wonderful. Last up comes the Finlaggan. It was very smoky and peaty, and ended with a very spicy but short finish.

My impression was that all around the Finlaggan most closely resembled the Lagavulin. I found Lagavulin to have a much more complex nose, but Finlaggan had a much more spicy and peaty finish (while shorter). The Lagavulin just shows all the signs of being a more mature and rounded whisky. The really leads me to the conclusion that my cousin’s information was hitting close to home calling Finlaggan a young (6yo?) Lagavulin. But really who knows? The guys and Finlaggan, but certainly not me. :lol:

In the end, I have a hard time giving a numerical value to these very fine malts. I love them all. But if you pressed me I would say I enjoyed the Ardbeg the most and the Laphroaig the least (only because of that unrecognized smell). I probably would say that I like the Finlaggan slightly more then the Lagavulin because the Lagavulin had some bitterness to it. But at the same time I could easily see why someone else could prefer one over another

The biggest disappointment was that when I added water to Finlaggan it went flat. :x The other three all held water just fine (it seemed to even help the Ardbeg a bit) But for $17 vs. the $60 I paid for the Lagavulin I would take the Finlaggan any day. :P

Cheers

Aaron
Last edited by Nock on Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Apr 09, 2005 4:58 pm

OK, I'll do it tonight! :D
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Postby Tom » Sat Apr 09, 2005 5:11 pm

Your doing just fine nock.
I enjoyed reading about your experiment and found myself nodding a few times in agreement :D
Never had the finlaggan, but for the rest i agree with your foundings. Apart perhaps your statement as Laphroaig being very peated, i find the 10 light, but i guess thats relative.
Im doing myself a likewise experiment with all the islays and other strong peated malts. and i encourage you to keep experimenting this way. Tastings with similar tasting malts next to eachother have proven to be very the most rewarding. Especially if done blind. (although im having second thoughts about this by now)
Medicinal is often associated with salt and sea influences.
As for taste and finish, to me the taste is everything up to the highest point of flavour development (this occurs always AFTER swallowing) and everything after the top is the finish. However thats how i see it, and you will form your own opinion about it. Many people see this in different ways. Whatever works best for you.
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Postby Frodo » Sun Apr 10, 2005 5:46 am

Nice post Nock. Never had the Finlaggen, but after reading your post, sounds like it's worth finding out about!

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Re: 4 Islays together

Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Apr 11, 2005 4:39 am

Nock wrote:The taste and finish:
(I have a hard time distinguishing between these two so I just lump them together)


I think of taste as what you taste when the whisky is on your tongue, and finish as what you taste after you've swallowed. I find this can be enhanced sometimes by inhaling over the tongue.

Interesting that you thought that the Ardbeg's finish was not so long as others--I've always thought it had one of the longest finishes of all malts. I wonder if the order of tasting might influence such things--you might try conducting the same tasting in reverse order; or, if you have the patience, in several different orders.
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Re: 4 Islays together

Postby Nock » Mon Apr 11, 2005 7:30 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:Interesting that you thought that the Ardbeg's finish was not so long as others--I've always thought it had one of the longest finishes of all malts. I wonder if the order of tasting might influence such things.


Very good point MrTattieHeid
I tasted the Ardbeg third.
1st - Lagavulin
2nd - Laphroaig
3rd - Ardbeg
4th - Finlaggan

Which might also explain why I found the body of the Ardbed to be so mild. Maybe I just didn't drink enough water and wait enough between tastings :?
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:25 am

Why taste the cheapest (IMO also in taste (although Finlaggan isnt a bad malt!)) of them last?
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Postby Nock » Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:21 am

Jeroen Kloppenburg wrote:Why taste the cheapest (IMO also in taste (although Finlaggan isnt a bad malt!)) of them last?


Good question

My thinking was that if I had the taste of the other three under my belt it would be easier to pick up on any similarities or differences that the Finlaggan might have and so give away which distillery it was from. I have come to the conclusion that while it might be from Lagavulin, I am quite confident that it is not from Ardbeg or Laphroaig. I seriously doubt that Finlaggan might be getting their supplies from Bruichladdich or Bunnahabhain. I kinda doubt that it is from Bowmore. And I haven't had Caol Ila recently enough to have any clue about that distillery (need to find a bottle of that stuff :( )

But seriously I didn't give much thought to the order as they are all considered heavy Islay peated malts.

Any suggestions on which order I should try if I do a retest?
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Postby Nock » Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:38 am

OK one more thing

I just picked up a copy of Jim Murry's Whiskey Bible 2005 today. (I am hoping to pick up some more "whisky tasting vocabulary" :wink: and I thought it would be helpful to have more then just Mr. Jackson's book around)

Anyway I was very surprised to see his ratings of these thee malts

Lagavulin 16yo - 88
Laphroaig 10yo - 90
Ardbeg 10yo - 93
Finlaggan Old Reserve - 94 :shock:

I think his comment on the Finlaggan is very interesting he says, "Someone has had access to one or two of the best casks the east coast of Islay has to offer. If you don't get a bottle of this you'll regret for the rest of your life."

So does the reference to "east coast" mean Caol Ila? or are the three in my tasting on the south side also considered the east coast?
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:49 am

For the tatsing order, some might disagree with this. But they are all quite close to another here, but I would probably taste them in this order:

Lagavulin 16yo
Finlaggan Old Reserve
Laphroaig 10yo
Ardbeg 10yo

The last two might be switched around as the Laphroaig might have a tad more 'tang' as the Ardbeg (cebrtainly the older Laphroaig's do).

On the origin of the Finlaggen: it seems they switch between Lagavulin and Caol Ila. Do a search on this forum and you'll find more information on that, its been discussed several times before on this board.

I just did a quick check, and seems on my site there are also 3 notes on the Finlaggan: http://www.peatfreak.com/Cnt.php?search=finlaggan

Once you made your own note feel free to add it there as well =D
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Postby hpulley » Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:05 pm

Actually, if one of the malts at a tasting is a no-name that might be quite harsh then tasting it last, or at least after the older, gentler malts, is wise. In a lineup of all islays the choice is tough but I always put cask strength and peaty toward the end with cask strength trumping peatiness.

Harry
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Postby Crispy Critter » Tue Apr 12, 2005 3:19 am

hpulley wrote:In a lineup of all islays the choice is tough but I always put cask strength and peaty toward the end with cask strength trumping peatiness.


Sounds like we could make a whisky card game. Four suits:

Peat
Sherry
Cask (strength)
Age
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Apr 12, 2005 3:25 am

Crispy Critter wrote:
hpulley wrote:In a lineup of all islays the choice is tough but I always put cask strength and peaty toward the end with cask strength trumping peatiness.


Sounds like we could make a whisky card game. Four suits:

Peat
Sherry
Cask (strength)
Age


Richard Joynson would win--he holds all the aces!
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Postby Golem » Tue Apr 12, 2005 10:54 am

My first instinct was that Finlaggan might be a Laphroaig, because they're somewhat protective about their name being used by independents. But having tasted the Old Reserve now, I think that's probably wrong - the bottle that I tasted reminded me strongly of a Caol Ila - and very nice it was too.

Given that, I'd assume that it is the case the Finlaggan get their whiskies from more than one distillery. My one concern with that would be that the next sample of the same might be a different drink altogether... I'm really not sure whether all Old Reserves are from one source, all 10-year-olds from another, and so forth - or whether one batch of Old Reserve could come from a different place to next.

Still, at the price, I imagine that I won't be able to resist doing a little more investigation next time I come across a bottle...
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Apr 12, 2005 10:17 pm

Nock, Jim Murray is doing a tasting in Victoria on May 9th, perhaps a quick overnight trip via the harbour to harbour ferry? If you want further details let me know and I'll pass them onto you.

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Postby WestVanDave » Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:28 am

Hi Nock - and to follow up on Lawrence's comment - if Monday the 9th doesn't work - then Jim Murray will be in Vancouver, B.C. on Thursday May 12th for a tasting event... or - join Lawrence and me (and the rest of the groupies) and tag along for the whole tour, adding Calgary, Alberta in the middle...

I'll be in Seattle towards the end of May... did you find the Finlaggen there? If so - could you let me know where to find it?

Cheers, Dave.
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Postby Lawrence » Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:38 pm

Dave, we're roadies! :wink:
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Postby WestVanDave » Thu Apr 14, 2005 5:06 pm

Lawrence... thanks... I'd better get the tatoo changed then, eh!!!???!!! :wink:

D.
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Postby Nock » Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:05 pm

Lawrence
I would love to take part in the tasting on the 9th, I just don't see a way of fitting into my schedule. :cry:

However, I might be able to pull off a quick trip up to Vancouver on May 12th . . . please tell me more.

Sorry Dave,
no Finlaggan in Washington. I picked up the Finlaggan on a trip down to California. I think that only the distributor for that area (several states in the southwest) has it.
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:15 am

Dave is organizing the Jim Murray tasting Vancouver, you had best contact him for details. It is going to be very informative and amausing. I will be in Vancouver also.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Apr 16, 2005 1:56 am

Last night I dipped back into the G&M Cask Bruichladdich, 1989/15, 58.4%. I'd found it interesting but rather hard, but after sitting open a week or two, it seems to have softened up nicely, and reminds me very much of the Valinch I'd picked up in the fall, which bottling it resembles in every way--vintage, age, cask, color, and flavor. As previously mentioned, surprisingly dark for a second-fill sherry cask, and wonderfully complex and full-flavored. Anyone who had that particular Valinch and regrets finishing it off would do well to seek out this one.

Edit: Crap--how did this get here? It's supposed to be under "What did you drink last night". Bedtime, I guess.
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Postby WestVanDave » Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:17 am

Hi Nock - any others willing to travel to Western Canada - The West Coast Whisky Society is pleased to present...

A Whisky Tasting Evening with "The World Guru of Whisky: Jim Murray" (author of the Whisky Bible 2005, among other books).

Thursday May 12th at the Terminal City Club, Vancouver, B.C. (7 p.m. start). This will be part of a three city tour - to include Victoria (May 9) and Calgary (May 11) ... Vancouver will be the finale!

Tickets will be on sale soon - but if you are interested please let me know and I will send you an ORDER FORM when available. ADVANCE TICKET SALES ONLY - TICKETS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR.

This evening will be an educational tasting session with Jim Murray hosting and discussing our way through a targetted 10 whiskies.

I trust this is of interest and hope you can join us. Slainte ~ Cheers, Dave.

Dave Mason
President
West Coast Whisky Society
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Re: 4 Islays together

Postby 3puttbob » Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:43 am

I agree with your comment on Finlaggan's finish being short. I was hoping for a little less smoke and a little longer memory. I smoke meat all the time and this is just the sipper to accompany it. 8)
p.s. after a neat shot I noticed about 15 minutes later a slight plastic taste. Anybody get this?
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