1991 The Wine Society Islay 30 yo 46% ABV

“The Wine Society used to bottle wines from cask in Stevenage until the early 1990s. When bottling sherry we would send the empty hogsheads to Scotland to be filled with malt spirit from various top distillers which we would then age slowly. This is a single-barrel bottling of our last Islay stocks. Limited to one bottle per member.”

Appearance: Light gold/white wine. The semi-viscous liquid, with a decent and jagged swirl mark, forms a lightly corrugated film around the glass. After a short time, a number of medium legs and sticky teardrops form and cling to the glass.

Nose: An immediate coastal peat aroma hits the senses, very pleasant, if not slightly light. There’s also an earthy quality to the nose: soil and minerals. Boiled fruit sweets (strawberry and raspberry) accompany the more earthy and peaty scents, adding a nice balance. As the dram matures, a faint butter toffee note appears, along with (I think) rhubarb and custard sweets.

Palate: A nice oily mouthfeel and, like the nose, a gentle delivery. Still, the butter toffee element persists, along with the rhubarb and custard contrast between sharp berry and mellow vanilla and the coastal peat. A subtle astringency, like breathing in hairspray (sounds worse than it is) also develops. Expressed orange and possibly lemon too, and now some eucalyptus coolness.

Finish: Short to medium in length. Slightly drying, peat, salinity and toffee. The finish also has a spring water quality to it, not diluted as such, but a freshness.

Overall: A very nice dram. £145 nice? Not for me. There’s nothing not to like, but at the same time, there’s nothing stunning going on.

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