Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…
Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire is a single malt brand from Atom Brands, owner of Master of Malt, That Boutique-y Whisky Company and various other ranges. The whisky is produced at an undisclosed Islay distillery with 25% of the recipe coming from ex-sherry casks.
The labelling is minimal, the name descriptive and the marketing bumf non-existent. This is single malt Scotch stripped back to the essentials. It’s bottled at a lowly 40% but the accessible price reflects that fact, with the whisky coming in at around £33.
Islay whisky is famed the world over for its coastal, smoky character, hence the name of this dram. The island deserves fame not just for its whisky, however. It’s blessed with staggeringly beautiful scenery, centuries worth of history, fascinating geology, diverse wildlife and some of the warmest, most welcoming people in the world.
Islay is also steeped in mythology, however, and one of my favourite stories is that of The Blacksmith and the Faeries.
There once lived an Islay Blacksmith and his son. One day the boy became dreadfully ill, growing pale in colour and taking on a haggard countenance well beyond his years. Distraught, the Smith sought the advice of a local wise man. The man told him that the creature in his house was not his son. In fact, his son had been stolen away by Faeries and replaced by a Changeling.
To prove his theory, the wise man instructed the Smith to place eggshells carefully around his son’s bed and to fill them with water. When this was done, the imposter exposed himself by yelling out with glee “In all my 800 years, I’ve never seen anything so stupid!”. The Smith grabbed the Changeling and threw him into the fire.
The wise man told him what he must do to get his son back and that night, with a sleeping cockerel under his arm, the Smith made for the Faerie Hill. When he arrived, he saw a light on the hill and heard sounds of piping and dancing and merriment. As he grew closer he saw a doorway in the hillside and peering inside, saw his son working at a forge.
The fairies noticed him immediately and demanded to know what he was doing in their dwelling. “I’ve come for my son”, he said, “and I’ll not be leaving without him!“.
The fairies roared with derisory laughter but the noise of their screeching wakened the cockerel who began to crow. The sound tormented the faeries and sent them fleeing, allowing the Smith and his son to escape.
When they returned home, the Smith’s son remained silent. For a year and a day, he spoke not a single word until, one day, he interrupted his Father as he worked on a sword. “That’s not the way to do it“, said the boy, taking the tools from his Father’s hands. He proceeded to create one of the finest blades ever made.
From that day forward, the Blacksmith and his Son created the most exquisite weaponry in the islands. Some believe it was the Smith and his boy who armed the Lords of the Isles, helping to make Islay the power centre of their vast seafaring kingdom.
Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire
Smell: Seashells. Ashy, charcoal, burned wood. The remnants of a bonfire. Brine. Pepper. Also orange, peach, apricot. Coal fire chimneys. Maybe a little more going on than you might expect.
Taste: A rather gentle arrival but a wave of smoke soon follows. Vanilla. Malt. Pepper. Smoke and ash. Wee subtle new oak note. Touch of orange peel.
Thoughts: It delivers what you’d expect a 10-year-old Islay at 40% to deliver. It’s got an interesting smoky nose with plenty of coastal notes and nice fruity touches and while the palate doesn’t quite live up to that promise, it remains a pleasant enough sipper. Interestingly, water brought the nose and palate closer together – the nose opened and became a little fresher while the palate seemed to get richer. Solid if unspectacular but good value for money.
Price: £30. Seaweed & Aeons.. is an uncomplicated, affordable and satisfying drop of Islay malt. Nothing more, nothing less.
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