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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Single Malt Report: Classic of Islay 2014 Jack Wiebers Whisky World, cask 530

For the past fifteen years, the German bottler, Jack Wiebers Whisky World, has been releasing multiple cask strength single casks of their "Classic of Islay" brand.  Since the Internet has decided that Classic of Islay = Lagavulin, and the Internet is always right and reasonable, that means Jack Wiebers has had in his/its possession more than 100 casks of Lagavulin and decided it was best to release all of them young, NAS, and cheap.  This baffles me from both a geek and business perspective.  I would figure that at this point in time spare Lagavulin casks are pure gold.  Why keep chucking these things out so quickly?  On the bright side, Jack Wiebers Whisky World has been keeping the price at €50 or lower.

I'll be reviewing two of these single casks.  One today, one tomorrow.

Distillery: Lagavulin
Ownership: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Jack Wiebers Whisky World
Range: Classic of Islay
Region: um......Islay?
Age: ???
Maturation: "oak"
Cask #: 530
Alcohol by Volume: 56%
(sample acquired via sample swap with Jordan of Chemistry of the Cocktail)

The nose is very meaty and salty, then vegetables burnt over mesquite chips.  Moderate notes of smoked salmon, anise, and dark chocolate show up here and there.  With time it picks up some manure and menthol.

Plenty of heat on the palate, but not too much.  It's mossy, minty, with crushed red pepper.  There a good bitterness to it, a light cherry-ish sweetness, and a slight lime note.

The finish starts mossy then goes ashy.  Less hot than the palate.  Soft bitterness, lime juice, and a sharp peppery tingle.

WITH WATER (~43%abv)
The nose quiets down.  There's hay, white wine vinegar, grapefruit, peanut dust, and a hint of manure.

On the palate there's mildly floral peat, a little bitterness, a light sweetness, a little spicy zing, and not much else.

The finish mirrors the palate.

Forget the water, go neat with this one.  The nose is rough but fun; either one is a fan of the style or not (check out the notes above).  The palate and finish are decent, though in need of some more angles or dimensions, something possibly gained by longer maturation.  I see some connections to other young Lagavulins I've had, but it really could be a young rumbling Caol Ila or a number of other peated whiskies bottled early.  Though I don't know how old this one is, I'm going to guess it's in the single digits, probably younger than 8 years.  It would have been nice to see what it would have been like after 12+ years in "oak".  In any case, the price of these "Classics" aren't bad considering they're single cask Islays.

Availability - Continental Europe
Pricing - €40 to €55
Rating - 83


  1. After trying a 9 year old sherry cask at Lagavulin, I can at least say they're in the same ballpark. Whether or not it's Lagavulin, Jack Weiber must have acquired a long term filling contract back in the day, because there's no way they could make money selling sherry cask Islay whisky this cheaply if they were buying on the open market.

    There used to occasionally be older age dated Classic of Islay releases, but it's been a while. e.g. https://www.whiskybase.com/whisky/5999/classic-of-islay-vintage-2008-jw

    1. Yeah, Serge reviewed a 14yo and the LAWS crew have reviewed a 21 and 26 year old. Are you sure about these being from sherry casks? Cask 1704 is loaded with American oak notes. I guess they could be refill American oak sherry hogsheads or something like that.