“The Name is Smoke, Peat Smoke”
Brand: Finlaggan The Secret Islay
Bottled By/For: The Vintage Malt Whisky Company Limited, Glasgow
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Nose: Young Dirty Peat, Rubber, Burning Newspapers, Wet Tarmac, Ashes, Toasted Oak, Smoke, Band Aid, Plastic, Iodine, Salty Water, Apple Vinegar, Compost, Grass, light Leather, Malt, Mint, Licorice, Unripe Bananas, Aniseed and Lemon. I know this looks rather unappetising but in fact it's not that bad at all! It's a very basic young Islay spirit with Peat and Smoke all over the place.
Palate: Slightly Thin and Watery Delivery. It's quite Dry and the Alcohol stings a bit. I find Wet Clay, Wet Grass, Ashes, Rubber, Smoke, Plastic, Salt Water, Pepper, Nutmeg, Artificial Sweetener, Vinegar, Malt, Nuts and Lemon Zest.
Finish: Quite Long actually. Sugary Sweet and Sour at the same with Wet Clay, Ashes, Burnt Toast, Charcoal, light Plastic, Pepper and distant tones of Lemon and Milk Chocolate.
Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20
General Remarks: The Finlaggan Old Reserve "Secret of Islay" Single Malt is distilled in one of the Distilleries on the Island. Which one is a real secret, only known to a few. This Whisky is named after the ruins of the Finlaggan Castle. It was constructed in the 13th Century and served as the home of The Lord of the Isles and the Clan MacDonald. It is located on a little Island called Eileen Mor in Loch Finlaggan. Finlaggan means Fort of the Island. It was demolished in the 15th or 16th Century. There are other expressions in the Finlaggan series being the Original Peaty, the 10 Years Lightly Peated and the Cask Strength at 58%. The Old Reserve sells at an average 45 US Dollars, but it can go as low as 18 US Dollars depending on where you live. That consistent low price makes you wonder if the Spirit always comes from the same Distillery as the makers of Finlaggan keep telling us. Because a dependence on one Distillery alone would normally lead to price differences depending on the availability of sufficient Spirit. Unless you always have lots of it like Caol Ila does. Well, the mystery is part of the fun so let's not dive too deep!
Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good
Conclusion: It's pretty straight forward Young Islay Spirit with very dominant Smoke and Peat on the Nose. At least for me this Spirit needs more Cask time to get rid of the Rubber and Plastic tones. I also miss Fruit or Sherry tones. I would guess that this Spirit matured in second and third refill Ex Bourbon Casks.Finlaggan Old Reserve is certainly drinkable if you're an Islay fan and Ardbeg 10 is too expensive. And if you can get it at around 20 US Dollars it's a great bargain! This Finlaggan contains Caramel so the Colour gives you no clue as to where the Spirit was distilled. After Nosing I ruled out Bowmore, Kilchoman and Bunnahabhain. After Tasting I would put my money on either Ardbeg or maybe Lagavulin although I have to admit I'm not very familiar with young Caol Ila or Bruichladdich. Oh well, let the mystery live on forever!