Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…
Elements of Islay is a range of independently bottled whiskies from Elixir Distillers. The range showcases single malts from distilleries all over Islay but has recently launched a core range of blended malts. In this review, I’ll be checking out the Sherry Cask version. A whisky said to consist of malts from a distillery in the island’s south and another in the north…
Until very recently, Elixir was linked to The Whisky Exchange, one of the biggest and best online retailers of whisky (and other spirits). Nowadays, however, the firm is making the transition to becoming distillers in their own right. Work is currently underway on Portintruan, a new Islay distillery located on the outskirts of Port Ellen and the sale of Whisky Exchange looks to have been used, at least partially, to snap up Tormore in Speyside, an intriguing distillery that hasn’t ever reached its potential.
It’s an exciting time for Elixir and the potential for some excellent drams in the not-so-distant future seems high. In the meantime, however, there’s plenty of opportunity to sample whisky put together by Master Blender, Oliver Chilton. Not least by delving further into the Elements of Islay series…
Smell: Sherry and smoke. Very much does what it says on the label. Lots of dried fruits. Sultanas and prunes. Orange peel. Winter spices. Bonfires and burning driftwood. Cherry Bakewells. With water, a little grassy, straw note came through.
Taste: This is a big dram. There’s sherry, there’s oak, there’s pepper and there’s smoke. It’s strong and robust. A wee bit sulphury, very much a fire and brimstone vibe, only sweetened by syrup and runny honey. Oak tannins. Prune juice and red grapes. Peppery smoke on the finish. A splash of water soothed some of the heat. Now a liquorice/aniseed note coming through.
Thoughts: The sherry and smoke are a potent, almost noxious combination. Some people love this full-on style of whisky (myself included) but others find it extremely off-putting. I included it in a recent tasting, for instance, and while most loved it, there was at least one who found it to be bordering on undrinkable. So while it is a great dram, I don’t think it’s one that’s going to be convincing everyone. Rich and acrid, full and powerful.
Price: £65. The Sherry Cask can’t quite match the excellent value of the Cask Edit offering (reviewed here) and it may be a more divisive dram than its sibling but fans of sherry and smoke combos should find something to like here.
For more on Elements of Islay visit https://islay.com/
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