This whisky is, eponymously enough, an “Islay.” As if there is more than one Islay. As if Islays grow on trees. There is only one Hebridean dreamscape so dotted with distilleries. Still, it’s tempting to play the guessing game: from which distillery does this come? Does it really matter, when you realize that the nose is a cross between a swimming pool locker room and a cedar sauna that you cross between without a towel? Which distillery would you say created that passing note of ferret cud on a saltine we smelled on the nose? (If you have a ready answer to that one, then you are either lying or an idiot savant. You choose.) But after that odd note, when it starts to open up to the really good stuff, to crystalline peat, green-hued and discovered by Indiana Jones as it lay atop a pillar of solid gold, you know it really doesn’t matter, because, my God, that’s amazing. OK, a few of you out there might try to figure out this whisky’s origin as part of some vainglorious attempt at finding another whisky like this amongst that distillery’s as of yet unreleased stocks. Fool. Enjoy this moment, enjoy this day, this whisky, this pair of onyx slippers with peat-jute and velvet straps.
Which Islay is this, you continue to ask as you taste this dram, despite my beating you about the head and neck. To. Just. Stop. Doing. That. The mouth, so fiery and hot, like hot pepper jelly coating the exhaust port of a mint condition cherry red 1965 Corvette, defies easy identification. There is, however, the ring of a golden bell on the mouth, along with a hint of earthiness, but even that seems clarified and then buffed with velvet for your pleasure here.
The finish is hot like a three dollar pistol and has even more steely resolve. And yet, it’s not as assertive or as bold as you’d expect: it is almost sedate. Imagine molasses forming from the burnt sugar cane from a wildfire set by disaffected teenagers; now imagine those teenagers were focused and nice.
Overall, this whisky is a single event athlete, but what an athlete! If I had to guess where this came from, I’d say from the scrapings of a grill used for a month-long pool party thrown by HiddleSwift in the Hamptons. They’ve broken up, you say? Well, then, the party was this past summer.
On the scale of celebrity supercouple nicknames–
The Exclusive Malts “Islay” 8 Year 2007 57% is Cash and Cary–In reference to Cary Grant and his second wife, Barbara Woolworth Hutton, heiress to the Woolworth retail fortune. She was, at the time, one of the wealthiest women in the world, and he was freakin’ Cary Grant. So yes, this is no Bennifer or Kimye, this is old school, this is classic. Oh, and he didn’t do it for the money.
–Our thanks to ImpEx and The Exclusive Malts for the sample!