Great Islay Swim Explorer’s Cask – Quarter Cask Single Cask Nation

Creating things is difficult. You don’t want to just change something slightly: You want to make something new. You want to be the Beatles, not Oasis, if you will. We’ll see who that angers.

But you also have to ask the old question: Maybe this hasn’t been done before not because you’re an artistic genius, but because it sucks. I could point to multiple parts of the Internet, but you get the idea. You’ve seen Battlefield Earth, probably. Or any Jurassic Park after the first one. Or any non-2D Sonic game. Or any children’s art. You get the idea.

No one had swam around the Island of Islay before. Or at least no one did it and recorded it, which seems unlikely because I’ve been around people, and when people do something that impressive they at least tell their friends.

Thus back in July 2017 (a simpler but still very fucked time) WhiskyGeek Tours and Single Cask Nation sponsored three swimmers to swim around Islay. Justin Fornal, Chad Anderson, and Johnnie Mundell became the first people to ever swim around the island of Islay. That’s amazing and while I love swimming, I’m pretty sure I’d have a hard time doing that. So cheers to them, none of my normal jokes, and I’m not going to mock them at all. They even did it in support of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.

As part of the swim, the team (not the swimmers) brought a 30 gallon oak quarter cask with them that they filled at each of the 8 active Islay whisky distillers (take that Port Ellen! You suck!). Then they left it to mature, and sold the 125 bottles through Single Cask Nation, and all of the money went to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.

That’s all cool. I’m not trying to say swimming around an island to raise money for a lifeboat station is not a good idea: It’s amazing. Also I’m not going to say that if you bought this, you’re foolish. It’s obviously brought out to raise money for the institute. That’s all. You have this sitting on your shelf and never want to open it? Cool. You do you.

But I’m here to taste whisky and… wait, I’m not chewing gum, that’ll throw off the whisky taste. Fuck the gum! I’m here to see what this tastes like. I love that they raised money, I’m happy there’s Lifeboats, Altruism is amazing.

What does the whisky taste like? Should someone be making it outside of just altruism? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: $500.00

Region: Blend

Components: Caol Ila, Lagavulin, Bowmore, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Kilchoman

Cask type: Quarter Cask

Cask number: 613

Number of bottles: 125

Abv: 57.5%

Colour: 2.5Y 7/10

Nose: Brine, bison grass (sweet grass, slightly floral), bacon, birch syrup, strawberry

Salt, sweet grass (if you’ve had Polish bison grass vodka, that smell, if not, I added in descriptors), some bacon, some odd syrup, and then strawberry?

So again, love the idea behind this, but would have loved to hear what the age/last casks each of the whiskies

Taste: Cinnamon, salt, cocoa, grassy, caramel, lemon, cherry

Spice, salt, some additional peat adjacent flavours (cocoa), then some fruit and sweet notes. It’s really odd, because your brain connects an Islay secondary flavour (strong iodine in Laphroaig or lemon in Caol Ila, for instance) but all of the flavours here are doing that at once.

It’s kinda like the murmur of a crowd all at once. It’s more, it’s simpler, but it all just kinda blends at once.

Finish: Fake cherry, peat, black licorice, brine, oak

Again, I really wish we knew the first casks these whiskies were in, as the interesting notes (fake cherry, licorice) are standing out. Simple, unique, spicy, but odd.

Conclusion: It’s a lot all at once, and I feel like the germs all trying to get into Mr. Burns at once and getting stuck in the door frame. Lots of spice notes, unique, but probably not something I’d push to try to make again, as you lose some of the individual aspects. Or maybe not push to make it again at this price point.

So this does deserve to sit up on a shelf. It’s made symbolically to celebrate swimming around the island. I get that. I didn’t hate this: Far from it, I think it’s interesting enough that if it had been made as a cheaper blend edition (or even moderately priced edition) like No Name from Compass Box, I’d take a chance on it again.


Scotch review #1560, Blend review #132, Whisky Network review #2284

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