Island distilleries week began on Islay with a Bunnahabhain 15 and continued on Orkney with a Highland Park 24. Here now to close out the week is a much younger whisky from an undisclosed island distillery bottled by Single Cask Nation in connection with the release of the Water of Life Film. Usually, undisclosed island whiskies can be counted on to be from Highland Park—though they usually have either Orkney or some Orkney-specific word in their name. This one doesn’t have any of that and, more to the point, a Single Cask Nation rep. has apparently confirmed that it’s not an Orkney distillery (and it would be unlikely to be Scapa anyway). There not being very many other island distilleries, the candidates really are Talisker, Jura, Arran and Tobermory/Ledaig (I assume if it were an Islay distillery the name Islay would be featured prominently). If the identity of the distillery is not disclosed, the composition of the whisky is. It is apparently put together from six first-fill bourbon casks, of which five were unpeated and one lightly peated. This would seem to rule out Talisker as I’m not aware of unpeated whisky being made there (all these distilleries make at least some peated whisky as a matter of course). And I don’t particularly think of either Jura or Ledaig as being lightly peated—though, of course, they may have some lightly peated variants. Arran then? Well, only the bottlers know for sure—but let’s see if the whisky gives us any sign.
Undisclosed Island, Water of Life Film (48.8%; Single Cask Nation; first-fill bourbon casks; from a bottle split)
Nose: A mix of malt and yeasty dough; some tart apple in there too. The peat emerges on the second sniff—-not smoke per se so much as a rubbery, earthy note. Gets more astringent/plasticky as it sits. With a bit of time there’s some lemon and the apple turns to tart-sweet. The astringent note subsides with time and the malt expands. With water the astringent stuff is completely gone and the malt and fruit meld nicely
Palate: Comes in with the peat in the lead—in the hot tarmac and pepper mode—and turns sweeter as I swallow. Thankfully, it’s not astringent here. A good drinking strength and texture. Gets a bit bitter on the next few sips but that eventually resolves into lemon peel. It then begins to get quite acidic. Okay, time to add water. No real change to note, actually—a little more pepper may be?
Finish: Medium-long. The sweetness washes out and it gets bitter and a bit tarry. With time the acid lingers in the finish and there’s more smoke too now. Longer finish with water and yes, there’s more pepper and at the end some charred oak.
Comments: Well, after an unpromising start on the nose this turned out to be quite nice. I was first put in mind of Tobermory by the astringent notes but the brighter fruit that showed up had me thinking of Arran after all. I guess if someone put a gun to my head that’s what I would guess. Who knows though if I would be right.
Rating: 85 points.