Bruichladdich has been pushing the sense of locality and terroir with their NAS offerings lately, and this Port Charlotte is no different, made with barley exclusively from the island of Islay, something the Peat Project we tried a few years ago didn’t claim, and a variant of the Scottish barley used in the Classic Laddie we recently had. The grain was harvested in 2008 from the farms at Coull, Kynagarry, Island, Rockside, Starchmill & Sunderland, then distilled that December before being aged on the shores of Loch Indaal. You’d strain to find a more local dram.
Still barely over a decade old and thus not quite ready to release aged statements, Kilchoman has used their youth to explore variations on their spirit, often in very creative expressions. One of the rising trends over the past several years has been a focus on terroir. The 100% Islay (3rd Edition) is a dram where the entirety of the process is done on Islay. The barley is grown there, malted there, distilled, matured and bottled there. It’s bottled at a higher alcohol strength but the peat level is lowered compared to their other releases. That is not a common occurrence in today’s world. First launched in 2010, the bottle in this review is from 2012.
Taking a page from the illicit beginnings of whisky production in a long ago Scotland, the 2016 Committee Release by Ardbeg is called the Dark Cove. This hearkens back to before the official founding of the distillery in 1815, specifically to a time when excise men from the government found and raided the secret cove from whence the smugglers had long been using as a base of operations. With that illegal arm of whisky distribution disbanded, the site was soon occupied by the McDougall family, who were the founders of Ardbeg. Legend has it John McDougall’s own sons, Alexander and Alan, were arrested for smuggling years before the distillery was born. Ardbeg held many events under the cover of night upon this release, along with aging the spirit in dark sherry casks.