Water of Life – Islay Mist
If you have delved a tad further into the world of whisky than the fringes of offerings your local frat bar has on its shelves, you would know that blended varieties do not necessarily have to be less sophisticated than their single malt counterparts – au contraire - as we have covered quite a few blends as part of this series that proved to be quite complex and not diluted to cater to the lowest common denominator of the mainstream palate.
Islay Mist – a blend that has been around for nearly a century – is no exception and with both “peat” and “Islay” gracing the label, it should not be surprising that it caught my attention straight away. While I felt intrigued ever since laying eyes on it on the shelves of Whisky & Alement in Melbourne, it was not until recently that I got to sample it.
The aromas of the original core expression are reminiscent of caramel, toasted almonds, cigar smoke and a sweetness that is pervaded by leafy notes. The creaminess that materializes on the top of the roof is heavy on barley, grains with peat building up in the background before taking on a prominent role. I specifically like the medicinal and turmeric flavours that hint at the DNA of Laphroaig, before they seamlessly transition into a medium-length finish that leaves one lusting for more as it reverberates in a smoky, oaky, dark chocolatey and spirited manner.
Islay Mist’s original version is a light bodied and well-priced entry level blend for the peat-curious interested in venturing into peat territory but not looking to be overwhelmed by smoke, or for passionate peatheads in search for an affordable, not overly complex Islay everyday sipper.
Let’s go ahead in a vertical manner and shed light on the Islay Mist 10-Year-Old next, shall we?
What delicately stings the nostrils gives me goosebumps straight away as what greets me on the nose is a melange of subdued cigar smoke, walnuts, dark chocolate and sultanas, which elicits a Pavlovian response.
On the palate, things get interesting as the 10-Year-Old takes a welcome detour and unveils a fruity and honey tinged sweetness reminiscent of Highland single malts that rests on a foundation of oak and smoke, which again reminds one of the accessible Laphroaig Select as hints of brine make an appearance.
The 10-Year-Old is a significant, incredibly easy to drink step up from the standard version and as an Islay fanatic, the hints of Laphroaig that start the elongated finish off before it descends in swirls of smoke and buttery peat make me want to place the bottle on the shelf in the “L” section next to the Quarter Cask.
Change of gear?
Islay Mist 21-Year-Old is another league altogether and the latest expression of its kind to hit the market. The subtlety with which peaty and smoky nuances are interweaved with the essence of characteristics such as malts and grains is superb and rare to be found in blended whiskies.
The aromas that combine smoke of different grades of intensity with seemingly contradictive highlights of grass, nuts, leather and honey that in combination make perfect sense.
On the palate, characteristic of oak and wood become interestingly more dominant before the elongated finish “endtroduces” what the nose promised, accompanied by brine, bitter fruits and buttery peat.
An excellent drop that qualifies itself to be savoured and saved for the finer moments in life.
image from company website