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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)