Better than most Non-Aged Scotch
I’m not a big fan of non-aged spirits, but I found an excellent one during a whiskey tasting at Spartan Cigar and Pipe Lounge in Elkton MD last night. It is a recent arrival to the United States (2017) and seeks a home in your liquor cabinet. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Port Askaig 110 Proof.
I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and the look. It was nearly clear and lacked much viscosity (the first clues to the age). It was beautifully bottled in dark glass, and on sale by the host retailer State Line Liquors, a place a friend of mine and I frequent when travelling to Baltimore or State College for our University of Maryland tailgates. The nose was excellent. Vibrant and slightly floral with honeysuckle. The smoke was pronounced but not overwhelming and there was wisps of salt and peat. I couldn’t wait to taste.
The taste followed my nose. All of the characteristics I got on from the aroma were present when tasted with the addition of vanilla and light touch of molasses. But it showed its age too…non-aged. There was a general lack of a creamy smooth finish that only comes from time in a barrel. It lacked that but nit nearly as much as I’ve experienced in other non-aged spirits I’ve sampled recently. There is something to be said for getting 110 proof scotch. I haven’t had too many scotches that potent.
I hate the new non-aged trend. But this one was not so bad. Still, at about sixty dollars a bottle?
So I did my research.
Because the Port Askaig website didn’t delve into too much history, I searched the web for more info. They also referenced their 100 proof version and not the 110 proof. My research source was the Scotch Noob. What I found was a little disappointing.
Port Askaig isn’t an actual distillery; they are a bottler. They get their spirits from another Islay distillery, all in ex-bourbon barrels. See the notes here. The Scotch Snoob site provides higher quality examples at the same price and peers at a lower one.
Askaig’s twist is that the spirit is bottled at cask strength and without the chill filtration.
My overall impression is that this would be a very good everyday drinking scotch. Just not at the price point. Fortunately, they have some aged variants which should be of higher quality and more worth the price. But if they also come from the “unnamed” Islay distillery and get marked up as “small batch” why bother.