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I got pretty excited before opening this one. An affordable Islay single malt at cask strength? Great! As usual, I checked the online reviews for this, which are largely positive. I felt like I’d struck gold. Well…
Anyway here’s the Ileach. Much like Finlaggan, this is from an undisclosed distillery. There’s something of a debate online about where this is from. Not knowing can be both frustrating and liberating as a whisky drinkers. We want to know what we’re drinking, but we’re more objective when we can’t bring in any bias. Either way, let’s try.
Nose: Pointed, high-pitched, and astringent. Metallic peat, vinegar, lemon rind, barley, brine, smoked ham, tobacco, cranberry, and apple cider. Pretty harsh at first, settles somewhat after a few minutes.
Palate: Medium bodied, with a lot of heat from the spirit. Peat, salt, seawater, cranberry, seared honey, tobacco, and ash.
Finish: Medium length, young, and BIG. Ash. Cigarette or pipe ash, cherry tobacco, Spam, minerals, tin, limestone, vinegar, barley, caramel, and some indistinct sweet sherry notes.
Thoughts: This is an attack whisky in every regard. While some might appreciate its rugged appeal, this isn’t my cup of tea. I love a cask-strength peaty blast, but this is just too crude. Yes, it’s a quality spirit, but it tastes too close to new make, or a whisky that has been bottled halfway between distillation and maturity. Too spirity, big, and rough. My taste buds can usually bounce back from a peat monster, but I’d suggest you save this dram for the end of the night; it will burn your tongue off. A raw, immature, spirit-driven whisky that’s only halfway ready, I’d say.