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Q2 Scotch Club: Port Askaig

August 16, 2020

Q2 Scotch Club: Port Askaig

Port Askaig aged 12 years (aged in 18 ex-bourbon hogsheads from 2006 and 2007) This quarter we are featuring a brand-new release from Port Askaig. PlumpJack Wine & Spirits is one of the first, if not the first, retailer in California to release this whisky, whose production is limited to just 5,000 bottles world-wide. This selection moves away from the strong, cask strength whiskies we’ve introduced you to recently. We’re dialing back the A.B.V to provide you with an easy sipping, lightly peated whisky that is sure to impress not only you, but those who are against drinking “smoky” whisky as well. Change their minds with this!

Brendon Pineda

Beer, Wine & Spirits Enthusiast

Port Askaig is a small village along the northeast coast of the Islay (island) in Scotland. Historically, Port Askaig has been the main harbor for easy access on and off the island. Currently there are 9 distilleries operating on the Islay, including icons like Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Caol Ila (pronounced cull-eela).

Port Askaig is also the name of this whisky brand. Curated and bottled by Elixir Distillers, a blender/bottler of spirits, all of Port Askaig’s whiskies are hand-selected and sourced from existing distilleries on the Islay. Typically, the whisky has already been matured and ready to bottle when Port Askaig selects a cask, though in some instances Port Askaig will decide to age/mature the whiskies further. We have seen Port Askaig source their whisky from Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain and Laphroaig, depending on age and bottling - whether it’s the 8-year, 16-year - or even the 33-year, as the case may be. This quarter’s selection, the 12-year old bottling, is very reminiscent of a Caol Ila distillate - an approachable peated whisky that highlights subtle and soft fruit tones with a moderate peat and smoke backbone. To us, that’s Caol Ila’s signature profile.

Port Askaig is a brand whose whisky appeals to the entire spectrum of the whisky consumer, from novice to connoisseur. It is a gateway to drinking and enjoying Islay single malt that offers an outstanding and complex collection of approachable Islay sourced whisky, very different from the heavily-peated style that the Islay is known for. Though distribution to the U.S. is scarce - particularly now with the tariffs on imports - we could not pass up the opportunity to include and showcase a whisky of this quality. 

Tasting Notes: The whisky shows a faint, very light, bright gold color. Due to the aging in ex bourbon casks and the lightness of the color, we believe the barrels were most likely ‘tired’ -meaning they were re-used to age multiple whiskies, thus imparting less influence over time. The aromatics are delicate, giving off lemon oil, lemon zest, subtle berry, soft peat and buttered pie crust or buttered croissant notes. The palate features prominent notes of lemon rind, peat, and dried mint leaves. Caol Ila is the distillery that pulled me into the Scotch whisky world; they did so by producing whisky that has the perfect balance between fruit and peat without being overbearingly smoky. This is exactly that.




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