Breath of Islay 14, 1992 (Adelphi)

This is a mystery malt from the independent bottler Adelphi. They’ve released a few in this series, a couple at 12 yo and a couple at 14 yo. I’m not sure if they’re all supposed to be from the same distillery or if there are any rumours/theories about the identity of the source of each release; usually most mystery Islay malts seem to be said to be Ardbegs or Lagavulins, on account of these being the two that are usually not available as independents (and also probably on account of some wishful thinking on part of buyers which, of course, is to the benefit of the sellers).

If anyone knows of any reliable “nudge-nudge, wink-wink, know what I mean?” about this bottle please write in below.

Breath of Islay 14, 1992-2007 (56.5%; Adelphi; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Old-school doctor’s office: bandages and iodine. Sweet, pungent peat–quite cereally too. With a little bit of air it gets quite coastal: kelp, briny sea-air, wet shells, uni. The balance between the sweet peat and the briny air is quite nice. A little bit of pork fat too with time and also some citrus. With time, quite a bit of preserved lemon. With water the smoke is pushed back and the coastal notes and preserved lemon take center stage. Some wet stones too (Caol Ila?).

Palate: Sweet smoke at first and then a rush of inky, ashy sweetness. Little bit of salt dancing on the edges too but the overall impression is of sweet peat and smoke. A little bit of creamy vanilla (custard?) is hiding under the high-octane stuff, peeking out every once in a while. Let’s see if water coaxes it out. Well, there’s certainly lemon with water (ashy lemon) and a brighter sweetness

Finish: Long. Sweet peat and tingling salt. Some vanilla emerges with time. More lemon on the finish too with water.

Comments: My guess would be that this is a Caol Ila, but it could just as easily be a Lagavulin, Laphroaig or Ardbeg. Whatever it is, it’s good. And because the first ounce was so expressive I managed to save the other for a comparison some time down the road with another couple of mystery Islay malts on my shelf, the Ellenstown 10 and 12.

Thanks to Rich H. for the sample

Rating: 88 points.

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