Whisky Review: The Whisky Agency Secret Islay 1998 Aged 21 Years

Style: Heavily sherried and Herbal

Nose:
Malt simmering in thick, thick treacle. Dates, muscovado sugar, plums and raisins wrapping around the softest suggestion of sea breeze. A little bit of dunnage, some umami as well. Mint backbone, lychee and tropical fruits overtone. White pepper and chocolate oak at the back. Very sherry-driven aroma.

Palate:
Malt dances in the rain of sherry fruits with open arms – Abundant figs, more raisins and plums showering down. Strawberry jam spreading on steamed taro. The sherry elements become darker and denser on the palate. Starchy potatoes, the earthiness lingers while spearmint continue to anchor well at the core. Black pepper sprinkles, dark chocolate rises and cuts into the expression with an edge of bitterness. A soft blackberry finish.

Finish:
Dark berries mellow down and transform into a mix of Earl Grey tea leaves, red currants and earthy herbs. Pretty nice.

Thoughts:
A heavily sherried, herbal dram. If I am given this blind, I cannot for the life of me guess this is from Islay, let alone guess which Islay distillery. My sources tell me it is “highly likely” to be an unpeated Laphroaig, while some say unpeated Lagavulin… If that’s really the case, wouldn’t this bottle be a fascinating artefact? Personally, if you try to filter out the sherry influence, and look at the grass-fruits proportion in this dram, I feel it points towards a Laddie (I haven’t tried a heavily sherried Laddie at this spec, yet). But anyway, regardless of its heritage, this is definitely a pretty enjoyable sherry bomb.

☆ [Recommended]

[50.6% | Independent Bottling | Single Cask | 1998 Distilled | 2019 Bottled | Natural Colour | Cask Strength | Butt | *]

-Esmond