October 2016: Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky

Cambeltown Single Malt Whisky, October 2016, by Jay Cary

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Campbeltown was once one of the most prolific regions in Scotland. Sadly, U.S. Prohibition affected the area, and until recently there were only 2 distilleries producing whisky.

Campbeltown sits on the Mull of Kintyre, and the single malt whiskies from the region reflect this with a slight coastal character. They are known for their dryness and often for their pungency. There are also a few peated releases (Longrow, which is produced at the Springbank) with Glen Scotia and Glengyle completing the modern day complement of distilleries.

Cambeltown Single Malt Whisky

Cambeltown Single Malt Whisky

Campbeltown is a small town on the Kintyre Peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. It is affectionately known as the “Wee Toon”, and the Victorian Whisky Capital of the World. At its peak in the 1800s, there were 21 distilleries in this small town with approximately 170 distilleries operating at that time in the UK (129 of those in Scotland) Campbeltown still has 3 operating distilleries: Glen Scotia, Springbank, and Glengyle. These distilleries give a remarkable insight into the history of making whisky in this remote, once prolific, whisky making region of Scotland.

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2015 End of the Year Bottle 2: Caol Ila 18-year

Paired with the Port Ellen, we also tasted another Islay Scotch – the Caol Ila 18-year

Located on the eastern coast of the Islay region in Scotland just across the straight from Jura, Caol Ila can trace its roots back to 1846.  However, the current large-production distillery, sitting on the site of the original distillery, was completed just over 40 years ago.   Expansion was warranted as Coal Ila positioned itself to a supplier for outside blenders.   Not surprisingly,  it is now owned by Diageo.

Caol Ila is often known as one of the more approachable Islay whiskies, which are known for their extreme smoked peat character.  Caol Ila’s offerings, however, often soften the harsh smoke with floral, peppery and fruity notes.  Because of this softer approach to smoke and peat, much of Caol Ila’s production is used by Diageo in other branded blends (like Johnnie Walker) or sold to outside blended scotch producers.

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January 2016: Irish Single Malt Whiskey

Irish Single Malt Whiskey, January 2016, by Dr. Stephen Benson

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Often overlooked due to its Scottish neighbors, Irish Single Malt whiskey is rich in variety and quite delicious. The art of distilling in Ireland goes back more than 1,500 years. It is thought that Irish monks traveling back from the Far East brought the art of distilling back with them. The general rules for Irish whiskey are that it has to be distilled in Ireland, distilled to less than 94.8%, and aged for at least three years in wooden casks. There is a burgeoning microdistillery movement in Ireland that only serves to raise the bar in the years to come. Slainte!

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