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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Single Malt Report: Islay Distillery 7 year old 2007 Exclusive Malts, cask 904

The last time I reviewed something bottled by the Creative Whisky Company, my post caused a bit of a hubbub.  But rather than shying away from more hubbub, I'm going to just keep reviewing what've I got here.  And what I've got here is an Exclusive Malts whisky.  In fact I have two Exclusive Malts whiskies.  And, in keeping with this week's theme, they're both (allegedly) Lagavulins.  Let's see if I can stir up any shit this week.

Today's "Islay Distillery" whisky is a 7 year old from 2007, while tomorrow's is the 8 year old 2007 (currently on the shelves).

Distillery: Lagavulin
Ownership: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Creative Whisky Company
Range: Exclusive Malts
Age: 7 years (August 15, 2007 - January 2015)
Maturation: first-fill bourbon cask (hogshead?)
Cask #: 904
Bottles: 293
Alcohol by Volume: 54.6%

NEATThe color is a light gold, noticeably darker than the EM 8yo.

The nose leads with big gorgeous peat, then mint, menthol, and burlap.  After 20+ minutes of air, the whisky picks up vibrant notes of strawberry bubblegum, whipped cream, tangerines, and praline.

Sweet aromatic peat in the palate.  Rosewater syrup, almonds, agave nectar, and honey butter.  It's spicy (chili oil) and steaky.

The finish is slightly rubbery, but also sweet and peppery.  Peat syrup.  Almonds/marzipan.

WITH WATER (~43%abv)
All sorts of new nose notes, like flower blossoms, butterscotch, rich vanilla bean, and baked apple.  The peat gets more moderate.  The mint and whipped cream notes remain.

The peat remains just as intense in the palate, though.  Some cinnamon sneaks in now.  Salt, vanilla, brown sugar, and a hint of the nose's florals.

The salty and meaty notes show up in the finish.  Along with peat, pepper, sugar, and a hint of herbal bitterness.

Yum.  Now we're talking.  This isn't an example of a cask being pushed to the market early only to take advantage of the single malt craze.  This thing was plucked and bottled at the right time, rich at 7 years.  Had this been left to age until 10 it may have been totally overoaked.

The nose reads excellently with or without water.  The palate, though not terribly complex, is still very good, though better without water.  Unfortunately, the price on this whisky is/was beyond my comprehension.  Though it's a different whisky style than the official 12yo CS, it is of comparable quality to some of those batches, thus I'd have recommended it at $100 or less.  But at $160+, it's something for which you'll need to utilize your own value system.

Availability - A few US specialty retailers
Pricing - $160-$180
Rating - 89 (when neat)


  1. Outrageous! ;) And I completely agree with you, the price is incredible but I have a choice and usually I will shy away from expensive oddities. If it is any consolation, I am earning very little on these bottles. The market demands single malt from Islay and that has forced prices into an area frankly I'm not comfortable with but I love having these in my tastings - and I think I've picked some crackers.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Whisky Dave. Do you mind if I ask how it has gotten to be that the price is so high and your profit margin so low? Are the casks themselves becoming expensive to obtain? Or are the distributors increasing their take?

      I'm seeing 8 year old Caol Ilas now hitting the market at 120+ euros and would love to know what's behind it. To some customers it looks almost as if companies are chasing Kilchoman's $130 5yo prices.

      Thanks for your input.

  2. Here in Canada we got the CWC Islay 2008 - 6 year old. The wholesale price is $84.00, and they're on the shelf for $116.00. While I can't speak for the position that Whisky Dave is in, I'd say that here an almost 40% margin is certainly not slim. So as you can see the gouging (and this is a weak example of it) is all the way along the chain of supply.

  3. I used to look to IB's for value, however it seems more often than not, they're much worse than the OB bottles (save for Diageo's special releases). Hepburn, Whisky Agency, Sanisbar, Samaroli, The Malt Whisky Company, all laughable as of late. Here's a few more examples to make you cringe: 1993 22 year old Sansibar Springbank; wholesale price is $416, and it's on the shelf for $600. Or a very young NAS (approx 7yo) Malt Whisky Company Glenglassaugh; wholesale $110, on the shelves for $160. Best for last, a 2001 Maltbarn Caol Ila for $230.00. Donkeys - biting the hand that feeds them.