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.
The Laphroaig 15 year first appeared three decades ago before being replaced by its slightly older sibling, the 18 year, in 2009. This anniversary edition carries on the proud tradition in celebration of the distillery’s 200th year, even if the supply is somewhat limited. In 2000, the 15 year was chosen for the Erskine Charity Bottling, when 270 bottles were drawn from a single cask signed by Charles, the Prince of Wales and is reported to be his scotch of choice. This offering is specifically geared toward offering a milder character, at least mild compared to more regular Laphroaig malts.