German bottler Earlskine releases a new bottling tonight (see my previous reviews of this bottler).
It is a 20 year old secret Islay single malt nicknamed Islay Flush. If you insist, there is a hidden clue in the playing cards on the label, which should lead you to the distillery. The whisky matured in a sherry cask.
‘Islay Flush’ Single Malt 20 yo 2002 (53,1%, Earlskine 2022, sherry cask, 187 btl.)
Nose: a mature profile with some high-pitched smoked lemon up front. Then charcoal smoke and sea spray appears, with hints of tarry ropes, oak char and burnt rosemary. Black pepper. After a while sweeter notes appear, mainly pastry dough and some melons. Overall the sherry influence is quite subtle – I’m guessing this wasn’t a fresh cask, or just a short finishing period.
Mouth: a combination of sweet notes (herbal syrup and raisin) and some acrid touches. Peppery notes, herbal tea, charred bread crust and liquorice. Mid-palate it becomes quite coastal, showing oysters and dried seaweed. Then back to leather, mineral hints and smoked lemons.
Finish: medium, with ashes, roasted grains and lemon peels.
I must admit I expected a bigger sherry character and a richer character here. It keeps coming back to lemony smoke and maritime sharpness. In the end though, this is a good Islay malt. Available later today from Earlskine.