Port Askaig: New Single Islay Malt Range

47 Comments on Port Askaig: New Single Islay Malt Range

Very exciting developments here at TWE Towers, as our sister company Speciality Drinks Ltd has launched a new range of Single Islay Malts!

Look at them, just standing there begging to be drunk :)

Look at them, just standing there begging to be drunk 🙂

Here’s the press release:

“The single malts of Islay are arguably Scotland’s most talked about whiskies and are recognised for their sweet, fruity flavours and smoky, peaty character. Port Askaig, Speciality Drinks’ new range of single Islay malt whiskies, achieves the perfect balance of these flavours and embodies the unique spirit of Islay and its people.

The range has been developed to appeal to the novice whisky drinker while meeting the demands of the most discerning of whisky connoisseurs. Speciality Drinks have selected what they consider to be the most perfectly balanced Islay single malt and created a range that they believe will become recognised as a true Islay classic.

Each expression within the range, from the youthful yet powerful Cask Strength, to the perfectly-balanced 17 year old and the elegant and refined 25 Year Old, is bottled in limited batches each expected to last approximately one year. While recognising that each bottling will vary, the aim is to achieve a consistency of quality and character over time. To ensure each whisky maintains its original flavour and character, the whiskies are not chill-filtered and no colouring is added.

In a world of change and innovation, there is still a place for the tried and tested approach. The traditional yet contemporary look of the packaging and expert cask selection will ensure Port Askaig can stand side by side with Islay’s more established brands. Remaining true to the practice of the early 1900’s, we bottle Port Askaig 17 & 25 year old at Imperial 80 proof (today’s 45.8%vol) and Cask Strength at Imperial 100 proof (57.1%vol). ”

Coal, pepper and some delicious flashes of honey and marmalade

Coal, pepper and some delicious flashes of honey and marmalade

And if that’s not enough to make you soil yourselves with excitement, here’s my tasting notes for my favourite, the Port Askaig 17yo:

Nose: Citrus and sweetness initially, with lemon juice, orange zest, honey and lemon curd.  The phenols are restrained, lurking in the background as coal and wet burnt wood.  With time more sooty notes emerge, alongside grapefruit, tangerine peel and faint medicine cabinet hints.

Palate:  A soft entry at first, with honey and lemon from the nose and a hint of brine.  Then a rush of spongecake accompanies the tangerine and grapefruit, before the coal finally emerges mid-palate, settling onto the tastebuds for a long, but balanced peaty, smokey rumble.

Finish:  Long, becoming warm.  Coal and pepper with some delicious flashes of honey and marmalade.

Comment:  Quite worryingly drinkable and extremely more-ish.  The balance is faultless, with each flavour element getting its moment in the limelight before dropping back into the ensemble.  An absolutely delightful dram.

So there you have it – the scoop on a bunch of exciting new Islay malts.  Don’t say I’m not good to you.

Have a great weekend & please let me know what you think of the range and the design.  Or heap opprobrium on me for plugging our sister company’s products on this blog, it’s up to you really.


Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisky Tasting Notes


Jon Pinson says:

Bunnahabhain then? I really should try one because I cannot stand the distillery offerings, yet a friend has a Signatory bottling that is superb, albeit it is heavily peated. Tempting for sure, I hope the new range works well for you. Now all you have to do is persuade the usually generous 😉 people at Lagavulin to let you do some bottlings.

Wow Tim , i’m impressed !
Like the Packaging , simple but distinctive , will look good on the shelf .
Interesting notes for the 17yo , looking forward to trying them !

bgulien says:

Can’t remember seeing a distillery in Port Askaig. Only a hotel and a general store, and oh yeah a petrol station.
Where o where does this come from?
Have to buy one to make an educated guess, I think.
Sounds good,Tim.

Willie JJ says:

They look great Tim. Somewhat reminiscent of the Port Ellen annual release packaging, but none the worse for that. I’m looking forward to trying them. Is the name a clue to its origin?

I_SPEY says:

They look very good, Tim and I can’t wait to try.
“Finish: Long, becoming warm. Coal and pepper with some delicious flashes of honey and marmalade.” Promising!

Jon Pinson says:

Willie you are quite right. The design is a mating of Port Ellen with a little hint of funky ‘A’ from Ardbeg. I like it. It is simple yet reminiscent somehow of other Islay designs. Very clever indeed. I am so happy with TWE seems to be running on the zeitgeist of Islay malts at the moment. With these, the Elements range and a few stunners from SMOS, we really are spoilt (and near bankrupt in my case). Tim, if this isn’t the place to ask then I apologise, but are there any plans for the next series of Elements yet? I vaguely remember when the first 3 were released, it was stated that they were the first in a series. Thanks, Jon.

aw says:

The bottles, labels and packaging look great. Also “Port Askaig” is a lovely name. What Islayphile could resist?! Have ordered the 17 yo with extreme prejudice. I look forward to working out (or trying to work out) which distillery.

bgulien says:

We’ve only to wait for a Port Wemyss single malt and all the ports on Islay are covered.
Very curious to sample the PA’s so just ordered the 17 and the CS.

butephoto says:

Very nicely done, I say. I love embossing on a bottle and maybe someday someone will do the entire label embossed! And it’s always good to see no caramel or chill-filtering.

Tim F says:

Thanks for all your kind comments, gents.

Jon, there is a Port Ellen Elements coming soon, and there will be further releases in the series in the future.

bgulien says:

quote> And if that’s not enough to make you soil yourselves with excitement, here’s my tasting notes for my favourite, the Port Askaig 17yo <endquote

Tim, you wrote that the 17 yo was your favourite.
What about the 25 yo? Any notes already?

Willie JJ says:

Bob (bgulien) its true that there is no distillery in Port Askaig, but if get about 50 metres out on the Jura ferry you can see Caol Ila peeking round the corner, just a few hundred metres away. Also, Port Askaig is the nearest village to Bunnahabhain, although it is about 4 miles away. Not that proximity necessarily means anything very much. After all Ardbeg released Corryvreckan and the sound of that name must be about 50 miles away, off the northern tip of Jura.

I do see the Ardbeg influence in the bottle design. Very clever methinks.

Looking forward to trying this stuff assuming it is reasonably priced. I wonder how it will sell, because there are other unspecified Islay Malts on the market and they can be really good, but never seem to have anything like the volume of sales, (judging largely by their presence on the shelf), of the significantly more expensive branded bottles. Just shows the power of branding when many consumers seem to think a product is only worthwhile if it has a label on it.

Tim F says:

HI Bob,

You can read my tasting noters for all the Port Askaigs by clicking on the individual products on this page:


I’ll post up my tasting notes and comments on the blog in the next few days.

bgulien says:

Willie, what about Supernova? That’s a still bit further away then the Corryvreckan whirlpool but I agree, geographically Caol Ila could almost be called a Port Askaig.
Is Caol Ila a village, in itself? Or is it something in gaelic.
Port Askaig is more famous for it’s quay development and diesel fumes then for it’s single malt.
But that is going to change, thanks to SD 😉

Hope to receive the 17 and the CS this week, and because the track record of Speciality Drinks is pretty good in my book, hopefully this will be as excellent as the others.
The 25 yo was a bit too expensive for just a try.

Jon Pinson says:

Thanks for that info Tim, I am about to send you an email 🙂


Par Caldenby says:

It has been said by someone that the ultimate form of flattery is a copy – or if that ought to be plagiarism, as the Swedish expression did not translate that well into English. Not meaning to be negative, as the design is very stylish and yet restrained, although an embossed bottle etc adds to the price tag by a couple of pounds…but the “A” is a very heavy flirt with the Kildalton player and the choice of the (nice) place name would clearly indicate Caol Ila, as expressed already. So which one is it? From sheer commonality in the market place, I’d say it has to be Caol Ila rather than anything else. And what is there to dislike with 17 to 25 yo Caol Ila? Not much…

So, well done by the TWE. But don’t get stuck only with the Islays.


Tim F says:

“So, well done by the TWE. But don’t get stuck only with the Islays.”

No danger of that, Par – rest assured. We’ve got lots of non-Islay stuff coming pretty soon in the next raft of SMOS releases… 🙂

butephoto says:

I tried the 17yo last night and it is superb. Classic Islay in a bottle. And a great price too!

Roger says:

It looks very nice. I cannot wait to try it.

More than a touch of the Ardbegs about the packaging, lovely.


jazz lover says:

Will these be availble to the U.S.?

Tim F says:

Hi Jazz Lover,

We’d like them to be at some point, but it’s difficult because of the different bottle size required for the US. In the meantime you can buy it from the TWE site, we deliver to the US. The shipping is steep if you’re only getting a couple of bottles, so might be worth going in with friends on a mixed order – once you get over about 5 or 6 bottles the price per bottle for shipping comes down to under £10.

lohssanami says:

The packaging is definitely attractive, and the reviews seem to say the same about the whisky.

Nice job TWE!

aw says:

First impressions of the 17 yo…

Liquid: light, clear.

Nose: smoky, but refined and restrained. [My wife says the opposite: “Wow! I can smell that from here! (we’re both the garden)]

Taste: strong, pungent, smoky, peaty. A ‘thin’ make. Kippers and bacon. Lacks the citrus of Ardbeg. Very enjoyable though. Very Islay.

Finish: long, warm, strong, fire-in-the-belly.

Overall: Caol Ila for my money, but much nicer than the 12 yo OB that I had before and dismissed as blending fodder. Yup, I’m going to enjoy this bottle alright.

Sue Denim says:

From the name and the fact that there is plenty of the stuff around, I would agree with Caol Ila. The ‘A’ and resembling the Port Ellen OBs suggests otherwise, but thats clearly not the case.

I’d be very surprised if they are Bunnahabhains, since I doubt there is enough peated stock around for a continuous bottling like this. That said, £75 for a 25yo Coal Ila really is a bargain, considering the OB is like £130. Methinks I know what my next purchase will be!

[…] a good review of the 17yo on Tim’s TWE blog, so I’ll be reviewing the other two for now, starting tomorrow with the Port Askaig Cask […]

bgulien says:

Having received the 17 yo and the CaskStrength today, I immediately went for the CS.
Everybody reviewed the 17 yo already.
I must say this CS is something else.
For a young whisky (can you at least say how young, Tim?) this is a very mature whisky and when added a few drops of water changed it’s behaviour and became much more civilized.
I have written some more notes on the John Hansell blog.

Marion says:

Now in pride of place on the gantry – all 3 – tried the 17 – very nice – who said Ardbeg? – they have no 17 for them selves?? am I wrong – I certainly hope I am correct and the whisky is from a distillery not too far from our door – to the visitor – although we have been a bit down at heel with 7+ years of civil engineering – we are back on track and hopefully we have more to offer than port facilities -Port Askaig Hotel is the oldest licenced premises on the island being around 500 yrs old – a drove inn and ‘Old Port Bar’ has some great old bottles to admire – lots more malts to try – a low ceiling, lots of character and a real Islay welcome from the owners – the family celebrating 50 years @ Port Askaig. Slainte!

bgulien says:

As I read your good little newspaper, you are in for another couple of years of engineering, because of the width of the new ship.
It’s always good to sit in front of the PA hotel with something to eat and a nice dram. Lot’s of things happening around.
Hope to look at your great old bottles in the autumn.
Oh yeah, and the PA whisky does you proud 😉

[…] The Whisky Exchange Blog – Tim F. writes about the new Port Askaig releases, and provides his own tasting notes for the 17 year. […]

Johan Houwaard says:


A lot of people call me crazy, but I am starting an adventure with 14 botles of Askaig and will put it in 10 ltr new oak cask to expirience the maturing myself, will let you know the results.


bgulien says:

Which one…the CS, the 17,or the 25yo?

Johan Houwaard says:

The CS

Here is a picture

bgulien says:

How long will you let the cask mature?
Will be very sweet in new oak, I think.

bgulien says:

Nice cask!

Johan Houwaard says:

I don’t mind sweet, the time is variable, let it depend on the development. How old is this CS you think?

bgulien says:

Right, sweet is OK.
Thinking Caol Ila, I think it’s between 10 and 12 yo.
My money is somewhere in the 12 yo region.
Tim, can you enlighten us a bit about the age?

[…] (and why I’m referring to them as Caol Ilas), check out my full PA 17 review and/or this introductory post on The Whisky Exchange Blog.  In order to do the comparison, I ordered 30 ml samples of the whole […]

Remember me? I am from the adventure with 14 bottles of Askaig, put in 10 ltr new oak cask to experience the maturing myself.
The original plan was to let it mature for 5 Years or shorter, depending on the results. The planned tastings were after 3 months, half a year, year 2 years and so on.
After I went to a Bruichladdig tasting a month ago and heard that they had a whisky they stopped maturing after 3 months in new oak, I reckoned that it was better to do the first tasting after a month and a half, six weeks.
I was of course a bit scared that I would be obligated to pore the whisky right back into the bottles, because it could worsen instead of become better.
The result is amazing in terms of speed. After 6 weeks the color is remarkable darker and warmer, the crystal clearness is gone however. Take a look at the picture (URL).
Nose: The strong peat and coal smoke stayed, but is now more disguised in a variety of caramel , vanilla, lemon, red cedar, leathers, candy and cookies.
Taste: The aroma’s are sweeter, the red cedar has entered the playing field, it tastes more complex than the original, it is certainly an improvement and better than I expected after only 6 weeks..
All and All: I am still enjoying the Port Askaig Cask Strength in new oak adventure!
Will keep you informed!

Chap says:

Nicely done on the cask work! It’s tempting to try out one of these days…

thkorent says:

Have now sampled all 3 of the Askaigs and find them quite impressive. My local whisky dealer tells me they are carefully selected single barrels of Caol Ila. Which I found hard to believe at first when we did some comparative tastings – the Askaig has done much better for my palate. Well worth the money, given what other Islay Whiskys are priced at these days.

George Campbell says:

This whole franchise seems a bit fishy seeing as there is not much information on how and where it is made? Plus the fact that the distillery does not and has never existed therefore it isnt a single malt… very weird.

Tim F says:

George, this IS a single malt from islay – SDL just aren’t saying which distillery it was made at, partly for contractual reasons and partly because they don’t want the PA brand to be tied to a particular distillery. If you google Port Askaig, you’ll quickly find which distillery most people think it’s from. There are several other ‘mystery’ single malts out there, including Ileach, Smokehead and Finlaggan. They are all genuine single malts, but for whatever reason the bottlers are keeping the distillery info to themselves. Hope this reassures you.

bgulien says:

George, why don’t you try one.
They are pretty good value and very drinkable.

MJ Klein says:

i bought a bottle in Kaoshiang, Taiwan (cask strength). i found the charcoal flavor to be overpowering, even mediciney. maybe the 17 y/o is better developed.

[…] with great regret that we must announce that the Port Askaig 17 year-old – Speciality Drinks’ superb mystery single Islay malt which became the whisky version […]

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