Review: Port Askaig 8 Years Old and Bourbon Cask 14 Years Old
As we established when Port Askaig 110 Proof first made it to the U.S. last year, there is no Port Askaig. Rather, Port Askaig is a brand name for single malt whiskies sourced from all over Islay. Each release may hail from a different distillery, but different distilleries’ whiskies are not batched together. Port Askaig doesn’t tell you what’s in each release, but sometimes you can figure it out.
Port Askaig 8 Years Old – 8 years old, this is Caol Ila aged in refill American oak casks. Fairly basic stuff for Islay, with a nose of salty seaweed and indistinct, wood-heavy smoke. Aromatically, it’s sharp and a bit rough around the edges. The palate is milder but slightly green, its initially heavy smokiness fading to a certain sweetness: milk chocolate notes and some citrus are a surprise here, though it’s not wholly cohesive. The finish is rather mild, and shorter than expected given some of the rougher characteristics up front. That’s perhaps the best way out for Port Askaig 8 — though it comes at the expense of memorability. 91.6 proof. B / $50
Port Askaig Bourbon Cask 14 Years Old – This expression is a 14 year-old malt from Bunnahabhain, distilled in 2004, and it spent its life not in refill casks but in first-fill American oak bourbon barrels. (11 barrels in total were produced.) I love the nose here: Lightly peaty, with notes of torched sugar and roasted nuts, it’s aromatically engaging, drawing you into an equally lovely palate. The smoke is more evident here but well integrated into a quite sweet body, fresh with fruit and a bit of an old wine note. Caramel-heavy notes rumble across the whisky to a gently bitter finish, everything firing on all cylinders. 91.6 proof. A / $90