So our local distillery St. George’s are releasing a new Chapter soon. Chapter 11 is heavily peated (55ppm) and comes in two guises: cask strength (59.7%) and regular (46%).
Dominic will review this for Malt Advocate, so look out there for his in depth comments. What he has said so far (via twitter) is
“46% version is immense, a perky peaty peppery powerhouse and definitely premier league.”
“Now for cask strength. woah! Hammer of the Gods, Jonah Lomu, Pantera, Ron Chopper Harris, Michael Holding bowling at Beef Botham … Chapt 11 CS is not for wimps. This is far and a way the best St Georges bottling. There are Laphroaig like aspects here. Liquorice, hickory, citrus and soot. This is right up there, every peat fans needs to try it. I’m buying a bottle”
Well I think we can conclude that he likes it then. Pat and I (Tony) also got a sample (thanks chaps!). Pat has written notes, see below. Since I’m crap at tasting notes, I’ll just give you my impression. Now I qualify this by saying I am no expert, have a palate influenced by an over indulgence in vindaloos and tend to invent my own way of describing whisky which is usually just wrong.
So to give you the context, I’m a big peat fan. Probably 80% of the whisky I drink is peated, and I drink a fair amount. The same goes for my stash, my cupboard of keepers is probably 90% Islay. I’ve been to Scotland three times; I’ve been to Islay three times. I loved the Supernova and the latest Octomore we tasted at the festival (not out yet) was fantastic. My favorite regular expressions are Ardbeg Renaissance, Lagavulin 12 year old and Laphroaig cask strength. I thought the Chapter 9 was very good, not up there with the big three but better than a lot of peated whiskies. I prefer Chapter 9 to Bladnoch peated, Connemara peated and Curiositas for example, and would probably put it about level with Amrut fusion and Bruichladdich Peat in my own list (and yes, I do have a list, you cant blog about whisky without being a bit anal). So I was obviously looking forward to Chapter 11.
In both its guises, Chapter 11 is better than Chapter 9. It comes in with a big peat hit. It is not at all sweet (is the absence of a flavour a valid descriptor? I’ll ask Dom). Most people dont associate peat with sweetness, but whiskies like Bruichladdich peat are almost girlie and pretty much all of John Campbell’s Laphroaig expressions, whilst clearly not girlie, are pretty sweet. Generally, I prefer the non sweet ones. So great start, big peat and the (not at all sweet) wood looking to come in to round it out. Lovely. I was actually thinking Port Charlotte 5 year old for a bit. But then I got a bit of young barley flavour interrupting the peat/wood conflagration. This is still a young spirit, and the elements of Chapter 6 I was less keen on are still there (I liked Chapter 6, but it is very young). Not quite up there yet with Port Charlotte 5 and 6, but by the time it is actually 5 or 6 years old I would expect it be.
So overall, a player for sure, big respect from this peat freak, but not yet a contender with the Islay big boys. I will definitely get a bottle or two ( if I can before they all sell out, we will post release info when we get it) and will no doubt drink them fairly quickly. Thumbs up from me, 90/100.
Pat’s tasting notes: 46%
Cream and Jamaican ginger cake on the nose with aniseed and white pepper. On the palate, it’s a gentle giant, creamy and clean barley at first, then the peat and pepper slowly build and fill every corner of the mouth without becoming overpowering. The finish is soft and lightly peppered.
Quite savoury, with a searing dose of pepper and peat on the nose. On the palate, it’s creamy, followed by a short burst of dry oak and then a further explosion of pepper and peat. Beautiful integration of light fruits, vanilla and dry peat. The finish is liquorice and pepper