Friday, January 29, 2016

Whisky Review: Dun Bheagan Island 8 Year

As I mentioned in my review of Dun Bheagan Islay 8 Year, this is a line of regional mystery malts from the indie bottler Ian Macleod. While the sources are unknown, quality generally seems to be solid.

As with others in the line, it is bottled at 43% without chill filtration and probably without coloring.

Dun Bheagan Island 8 Year

Nose: solid but not overwhelming sherry influence, gentle pine, cedar, American oak, cured meat, fresh malt, new hay, floral heather, mossy peat smoke in the background. After adding a few drops of water, the sherry recedes in favor of the malt, the malt becomes drier and integrates with the hay, the pine integrates with the peat, some saltiness comes out, and it generally feels more youthful.

Taste: sherry and malt sweetness up front that is quickly tempered by earthy oak tannins, green malt with a touch of salt in the middle that fades out through herbal/mossy peat. After dilution the sherry and peat spread across the palate giving a more uniform character, and the oak is more polished.

Finish: mossy peat, barrel char, moderate oak, sherry residue, sea salt, nutmeg

There's nothing particularly subtle or complex about this whisky, but it's hard to sniff at considering what most peated sherry cask whiskies are going for these days. Given its Islands designations, I think that leaves three sourcing possibilities - Talisker, Jura, and Highland Park. This doesn't read as something from Tobermory and Scapa doesn't do peated malt, last I checked. Given that Ian Macleod's headquarters are on Skye - their core blended whisky is called Isle of Skye - that lends some credence to the theory that this is castoff Talisker. But it's either very atypical for the distillery or from somewhere else. The next best bet seems to be Highland Park. It's unfortunate that I don't have any of the G&M Highland Park 8 Year, which would give a solid basis for comparison, but from what I can remember of that whisky this doesn't seem so far off. The heathery notes and lack of pepper also make me lean towards Highland Park.

Currently the only place in the States that still carries this whisky is Astor Wines in NYC, but they will ship to any state where it's legal and currently have it on offer for $35, which is a steal for a peated single malt of this quality. If you're ever shopping or ordering from them online, I would highly recommend tossing in a bottle of Dun Bheagan Island. It's not a world-beater, but it's everything I could have asked for at the price.

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