The Islay Boys are Donald MacKenzie and MacKay Smith. Hailing from the Rhinns Peninsula on the west coast of Islay, the two men have travelled much of the world but recently returned to their homeland with a burning desire to put their own stamp on the islands famous spirit.
For their branding, the boys have chosen to focus on elements of Viking mythology which link to this part of Scotland’s Atlantic coast, even naming their blends after Ketill Flatnöse, a fabled warrior king of the 9th century.
Like so many Viking hero’s, the historical accuracy of Ketill’s story is debatable, since it comes mainly from a pair of saga’s written many, many years after the events took place. The story begins however, with Harald Fairhairs victory at the battle of Hafrsfjord. Fairhair had long dreamt of establishing himself as the first King of all Norway and wasn’t about to let any who opposed him escape his wrath. The new King sent Ketill Flatnöse, one of his greatest warriors, to pursue those who fled defeat by sailing across the sea to the Orkney and Shetland Isles.
However, it seems that Ketill was not himself without ambition. Upon reaching the islands, he quickly established himself as ruler of the new colonies, establishing a base from which he could strike the entirety of Scotland’s coastline. Before long, Flatnöse had conquered the Western isles and made his home on Islay. From there, he was able to rule his new kingdom, beginning a dynasty which would dominate the western seaboard for generations as the infamous Lords of the Isles.
The Flatnöse blended scotch is bottled at 43% alcohol by volume, and retails in the UK for between £25 and £30 a bottle.
Smell: Salt & Brine with the distinctive Peaty Tang of Islay, coupled with Cinnamon and Paprika spices, Toffee and Vanilla.
Taste: Fantastic oily texture, Honey and Creamy Vanilla, silky Caramel, Pepper and Oak with an undercurrent of subtle smoke. The Islay character is there, though kept in check.
Value for Money: An extremely affordable offering that seriously delivers on the palate.
Scores: 45 / 50. About the Scores…
The Islay Boys have unleashed this dram unto a world which often sneers at blended scotch. Like the Warrior King for which it is named however, the Flatnöse blend is more than capable of holding its own against strong competition. Indeed, I struggle to think of a better dram in the price bracket. Excellent.