Port Askaig is the name of a very small harbor on the isle of Islay, but it’s also the name of a single malt and quite a mysterious one so it seems. We were happy to receive five bottles of Port Askaig ranging from ‘smoke bombs’ to ‘so balanced it can do yoga on its own’. Find out more below.
To say that Port Askaig is very small, is a bit of an understatement. You see, apart from the port, it has a hotel, a petrol shop and a few houses. Nonetheless it was rated one of the most attractive postcode areas to live in. Now here’s where the mystery begins, there’s no distillery whatsoever in or near Port Askaig.
Port Askaig Single Malt is an independent range of whisky produced by the Elixir Distillers. The idea of Elixir Distillers was to create a very accessible, well balanced Islay Single Malt that really represented the character of Islay (the island as well as the whisky) and what better idea was there than to name it for Islay’s Northernmost access point: Port Askaig.
Now you might probably ask then: what whisky is there exactly in a Port Askaig bottle? Not a soul could give me an undeniable answer so we had to send our Special Malt Agent. He infiltrated Elixir Distillers dressed as an empty bottle and apparently was mostly filled with Caol Ila and sometimes Bunnahabhain. We nodded appreciatively when the Agent reported this information back to us (stone drunk of course).
Why would you drink it then, instead of Caol Ila? Frankly, because it’s something Caol Ila hasn’t produced yet. It might be Caol Ila, or something else, at the heart, but the expression is Port Askaig, definitely. And this year Port Askaig Single Malt is celebrating its 10th Anniversary…with a 10 Year Old, of course.
Port Askaig 10th Anniversary
The birthday bottling is a 10 year old single malt aged in first fill bourbon casks, refill hogsheads and sherry butts. There’s only 10000 of them and it’s bottled at 55,58% ABV, which also happens to be the geographical latitude of Port Askaig (our Agent mumbled).
It’s smoky, fruity and sweety with a definite kick from the .55 caliber. It reminded us of raisin cake with orange peel. It had a tartness, a fruity bitternes which I found was quite pleasant. Slight smoke, of course, and a medium finish.
Port Askaig 8 Year Old
This is the basic Port Askaig and the 10 travels not far from it, we thought. It’s smoky and sweet. It has hints of cake and stone fruit (prunes) and lemon or orange. Long smoky finish. Have this one when it’s pouring cats and dogs out there in the freezing cold. Bottled at 45.8%.
Port Askaig 100 Proof
Another basic in the Port Askaig range. A muscled, full strength single malt made from single malts aged 7-9 years old, not unlike the previous one but carrying a big gun (57,1 caliber). It’s smoky, peaty, oily and sweet. It’s quite smoky, my room still smells of it and my wife thinks I took up smoking again. Our Agent described it as follows: “It’s young, straightforward and in your face, but we happen to like that with our women…I mean Malts”.
Port Askaig 14 Year Old
This is a 2004 vintage limited edition peated malt aged in Bourbon barrels. It is very good! It comes in as very smoky, but it is not and then the sweet, fruitiness takes over, but doesn’t dominate. It’s like tightening a rope over Islay and then balancing over it. An amazing malt, very yummy.
Port Askaig 28 Year Old
Another limited edition, but this time from an unknown Islay distillery (even our Agent didn’t know). This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is spectacular! It blew us away, love at first sight! This Malt is so well balanced that it can do yoga on its own! It’s robust and peated, smoky, but also sweet, fruity and lovely spice. It’s soft and tender, but also complex and its flavor comes in waves. This is a must have for any Islay lover.