Yes, it’s finally here! Elements of Islay Pe2 has arrived, and, well, not to blow our own trumpet or anything – but it’s a monster! I tasted this over an hour ago and I can still taste the last of my second watered-down sample (in my world, that’s a good thing).
Anyway, here’s what I (with my admittedly completely biased viewpoint) thought:
Nose: I let the bottle sit open for a few minutes before pouring. At 59.5%, I usually find most drams need a bit of aeration before I can get the best out of them.
First impressions in the glass: chocolate, very old leather suitcases, balsamico, then a faintly leafy sweetness. Resinous, gammony. Another couple of minutes in the glass reveal rosehip syrup, lovely damp earthy notes, Chinese balloons, syrup, treacle tart, hints of black liquorice. Gamey, minty. Eventually, some woodsmoke, cigar box aromas and some citrus: lemon zest, orangey fruit. Another few minutes of restraint and it’s all apricots, wet flint, plums and dates. Finally, after perhaps 45 minutes, we arrive at a delicious orange, dark chocolate liqueur. In a word: Stunning.
Palate: Pretty full, but very drinkable even at full strength. A wash of coaldust and bonfire woodsmoke, with some dried peat. Chocolate hints. Very lively, it fairly fizzes around the tastebuds. Some spice and mocha. Becomes warming mid-palate as the bonfire peat kicks in. Water tames the fiery roar and lifts the sweetness, while retaining a peaty kick. In a word: Maelstrom.
Finish: Good length. Becomes drying, with a little chilli heat; as the phenols fade, a honeysuckle sweetness and some fruity notes emerge. In a word: Beautiful.
Comment: Another majestic PE. Any sherry cask of this age (minimum 27 years old) that has only dropped a few points abv is likely to do something pretty special to the spirit inside. You have to like peat and sherry, obviously, but fans of the last Pe1 won’t be disappointed with this – from memory, I think it’s very similar - possibly a little sweeter. I lit a cigarette and asked my glass ‘How was it for you?’.
A quick point on the addition of water to Pe2: In the interests of science, and against my better judgement, I added some water to my original sample. It took a bit of time to accommodate the change, and at first I thought I’d ruined it – brief notes of struck matches and swimming pools, while the palate got sweeter with notes of wet wool (or Serge’s poor wet dogs). However, it recovered after a few minutes.
So I tried adding water to a freshly poured sample, to replicate the likely conditions in the home – much better, but after having had it at cask strength, the dilute version is the equivalent of fighting a dog with no teeth or just watching the dialogue bits in a porn film – pointless. For those with the requisite stiff constitution, my advice is to put your water away. If you’re going to add water, pour a fresh sample – but really this epic spirit should be experienced exactly as nature intended.
Now, before you ask: I’m not at liberty to reveal age, vintage, or distillery – apologies, but this is how it has to be. What I can tell you is that there’s not very much of this as it’s from a single cask, so if you want one, now’s not the time to dilly-dally. It’s live now – click here if you want one. Good Luck everyone!