The four are Ardbeg 10yo, Lagavulin 16yo, Laphroaig 10yo, and Finlaggan Old Reserve. I decided that while I was at it I would see if I could pick up on any similarities between the Finlaggan and any of the other three. Just a little “guess which one it could be from.”
First the color:
In my opinion the Finlaggan Old Reserve very closely resembled the color of the Lagavulin. The Laphroaig was much lighter then either and Ardbeg was lighter then that. But, then again it could all be dyes.
Now here was the most telling factor for me. I described the Lagavulin as “a full rounded attack of smoke and peat.” (do you ever feel silly after you write this stuff down, and then have someone else read it? ) The Ardbeg in comparison while having plenty of peat smoke was also very oily and sweet. The Laphroaig as you all know is powerful peat. However, when compared to these other malts there is also something sweet that I found a bit off. Maybe this is what “medicinal” is referring to? Or maybe it was nutty? Mr. Jackson says “gooseberry sweetness”??) The Finlaggan I described as “heavy smoke and sweet seaweed.”
I was really surprised how this came out. I found the Lagavulin to have the fullest body of the four. The next closest was the Finlaggan. I expected the Laphroaig to be right there as well, but was surprised to find it more in the medium to full range. The Ardbeg was my biggest surprise being the weakest of the four – straight on medium.
The taste and finish:
(I have a hard time distinguishing between these two so I just lump them together)
The Lagavulin was very smoky with plenty of spicy peat, but in a rounded way with a long finish. However, there was also a bitterness to it that wasn’t so pleasant. The Laphroaig while also having plenty of smoke and peat was also very salty with that odd taste from the nose (maybe medicinal or nutty?) The Ardbeg was incredibly complex, it started off salty and sweet, but then it hits with a wave of smoke, peat and iodine, and it ends with a spicy finish. My only complaint was that the finish didn’t last longer (compared to Lavagulin and Laphroaig). I have to agree with Mr. Jackson description of Ardbeg, “Skips sweetly along at first, then becomes mean and moody.” Just wonderful. Last up comes the Finlaggan. It was very smoky and peaty, and ended with a very spicy but short finish.
My impression was that all around the Finlaggan most closely resembled the Lagavulin. I found Lagavulin to have a much more complex nose, but Finlaggan had a much more spicy and peaty finish (while shorter). The Lagavulin just shows all the signs of being a more mature and rounded whisky. The really leads me to the conclusion that my cousin’s information was hitting close to home calling Finlaggan a young (6yo?) Lagavulin. But really who knows? The guys and Finlaggan, but certainly not me.
In the end, I have a hard time giving a numerical value to these very fine malts. I love them all. But if you pressed me I would say I enjoyed the Ardbeg the most and the Laphroaig the least (only because of that unrecognized smell). I probably would say that I like the Finlaggan slightly more then the Lagavulin because the Lagavulin had some bitterness to it. But at the same time I could easily see why someone else could prefer one over another
The biggest disappointment was that when I added water to Finlaggan it went flat. The other three all held water just fine (it seemed to even help the Ardbeg a bit) But for $17 vs. the $60 I paid for the Lagavulin I would take the Finlaggan any day.
I enjoyed reading about your experiment and found myself nodding a few times in agreement
Never had the finlaggan, but for the rest i agree with your foundings. Apart perhaps your statement as Laphroaig being very peated, i find the 10 light, but i guess thats relative.
Im doing myself a likewise experiment with all the islays and other strong peated malts. and i encourage you to keep experimenting this way. Tastings with similar tasting malts next to eachother have proven to be very the most rewarding. Especially if done blind. (although im having second thoughts about this by now)
Medicinal is often associated with salt and sea influences.
As for taste and finish, to me the taste is everything up to the highest point of flavour development (this occurs always AFTER swallowing) and everything after the top is the finish. However thats how i see it, and you will form your own opinion about it. Many people see this in different ways. Whatever works best for you.
Nock wrote:The taste and finish:
(I have a hard time distinguishing between these two so I just lump them together)
I think of taste as what you taste when the whisky is on your tongue, and finish as what you taste after you've swallowed. I find this can be enhanced sometimes by inhaling over the tongue.
Interesting that you thought that the Ardbeg's finish was not so long as others--I've always thought it had one of the longest finishes of all malts. I wonder if the order of tasting might influence such things--you might try conducting the same tasting in reverse order; or, if you have the patience, in several different orders.
MrTattieHeid wrote:Interesting that you thought that the Ardbeg's finish was not so long as others--I've always thought it had one of the longest finishes of all malts. I wonder if the order of tasting might influence such things.
Very good point MrTattieHeid
I tasted the Ardbeg third.
1st - Lagavulin
2nd - Laphroaig
3rd - Ardbeg
4th - Finlaggan
Which might also explain why I found the body of the Ardbed to be so mild. Maybe I just didn't drink enough water and wait enough between tastings
Jeroen Kloppenburg wrote:Why taste the cheapest (IMO also in taste (although Finlaggan isnt a bad malt!)) of them last?
My thinking was that if I had the taste of the other three under my belt it would be easier to pick up on any similarities or differences that the Finlaggan might have and so give away which distillery it was from. I have come to the conclusion that while it might be from Lagavulin, I am quite confident that it is not from Ardbeg or Laphroaig. I seriously doubt that Finlaggan might be getting their supplies from Bruichladdich or Bunnahabhain. I kinda doubt that it is from Bowmore. And I haven't had Caol Ila recently enough to have any clue about that distillery (need to find a bottle of that stuff )
But seriously I didn't give much thought to the order as they are all considered heavy Islay peated malts.
Any suggestions on which order I should try if I do a retest?
I just picked up a copy of Jim Murry's Whiskey Bible 2005 today. (I am hoping to pick up some more "whisky tasting vocabulary" and I thought it would be helpful to have more then just Mr. Jackson's book around)
Anyway I was very surprised to see his ratings of these thee malts
Lagavulin 16yo - 88
Laphroaig 10yo - 90
Ardbeg 10yo - 93
Finlaggan Old Reserve - 94
I think his comment on the Finlaggan is very interesting he says, "Someone has had access to one or two of the best casks the east coast of Islay has to offer. If you don't get a bottle of this you'll regret for the rest of your life."
So does the reference to "east coast" mean Caol Ila? or are the three in my tasting on the south side also considered the east coast?
Finlaggan Old Reserve
The last two might be switched around as the Laphroaig might have a tad more 'tang' as the Ardbeg (cebrtainly the older Laphroaig's do).
On the origin of the Finlaggen: it seems they switch between Lagavulin and Caol Ila. Do a search on this forum and you'll find more information on that, its been discussed several times before on this board.
I just did a quick check, and seems on my site there are also 3 notes on the Finlaggan: http://www.peatfreak.com/Cnt.php?search=finlaggan
Once you made your own note feel free to add it there as well =D
Crispy Critter wrote:hpulley wrote:In a lineup of all islays the choice is tough but I always put cask strength and peaty toward the end with cask strength trumping peatiness.
Sounds like we could make a whisky card game. Four suits:
Richard Joynson would win--he holds all the aces!
Given that, I'd assume that it is the case the Finlaggan get their whiskies from more than one distillery. My one concern with that would be that the next sample of the same might be a different drink altogether... I'm really not sure whether all Old Reserves are from one source, all 10-year-olds from another, and so forth - or whether one batch of Old Reserve could come from a different place to next.
Still, at the price, I imagine that I won't be able to resist doing a little more investigation next time I come across a bottle...
I'll be in Seattle towards the end of May... did you find the Finlaggen there? If so - could you let me know where to find it?
I would love to take part in the tasting on the 9th, I just don't see a way of fitting into my schedule.
However, I might be able to pull off a quick trip up to Vancouver on May 12th . . . please tell me more.
no Finlaggan in Washington. I picked up the Finlaggan on a trip down to California. I think that only the distributor for that area (several states in the southwest) has it.
Edit: Crap--how did this get here? It's supposed to be under "What did you drink last night". Bedtime, I guess.
A Whisky Tasting Evening with "The World Guru of Whisky: Jim Murray" (author of the Whisky Bible 2005, among other books).
Thursday May 12th at the Terminal City Club, Vancouver, B.C. (7 p.m. start). This will be part of a three city tour - to include Victoria (May 9) and Calgary (May 11) ... Vancouver will be the finale!
Tickets will be on sale soon - but if you are interested please let me know and I will send you an ORDER FORM when available. ADVANCE TICKET SALES ONLY - TICKETS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR.
This evening will be an educational tasting session with Jim Murray hosting and discussing our way through a targetted 10 whiskies.
I trust this is of interest and hope you can join us. Slainte ~ Cheers, Dave.
West Coast Whisky Society
p.s. after a neat shot I noticed about 15 minutes later a slight plastic taste. Anybody get this?
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