I introduced Character of Islay while taking about their Green Isle blended Scotch. The range started with Aerolite Lindsay 10 Years and some time ago – ahead of Feis Ile 2020 which was then still supposed to take place – they expanded the range with new expressions, including this Fiona Macleod 33 Year Old.
This single malt whisky from an unnamed distillery was distilled in 1985. It refers to the pen name of William Sharp, who noted down traditional Hebridean tales in the 19th century. Aged Islay whisky is increasingly hard to come by these days and this whisky is supposed to capture a bit of the magic of Islay.
Fiona Macleod 33 yo 1985 (46,3%, Character of Islay Whisky Co 2020)
Nose: it does evoke Islay with nicely mentholated notes, delicate smoke, a hint of oil paint and resinous peat. Mild tobacco. Then it gets rounder, with hints of waxed paper, sweet almonds and great fruity notes (banana, even ripe, roasted pineapple) and velvetly vanilla. Just a hint of geranium as well. Gentle and complex, so far so good.
Mouth: the distillery may not be a big mystery after all. Liquorice at first, as well as lemons and some resinous / rosemary sharpness. Then it goes towards lavender sweets and Parma violets, with the soapy edge wich we’ve all experienced in the 1990s when this was a common element in Bowmore’s core range. It’s not the worst example of this style as it doesn’t turn into perfume entirely, but still. Carbolic soap, violet petals and rosewater. Some smoke and brine underneath, some banana as well. Not my kinda Islay magic.
Finish: always longer than you’d like.
Soapy Bowmore. Apparently bottlers think the time is ripe to market “FWP” as something unique. TWE has a similar offering – kudos to them for being entirely open about the profile (here we didn’t have a clue, not even from the tasting notes). I know some people dig this floral style but I can’t get over the idea of having soap in my whisky. Divisive whisky, available from Master of Malt.