Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Islay

I spoke to Ben this evening, and, as ever, he was in search of BIGGER, PEATIER ISLAY SCOTCHES. He specifically wanted to know if I knew anything about a Scotch that he had recently seen in liquor store named Auld Reekie. I had seen it, but I didn't know anything about it. I mentioned that I had also seen a bottling called The Big Smoke, but I also knew next to nothing about that, either. Through the miracle of the Interweb, though, knowledge is but a few keystrokes away.

Both Auld Reekie and The Big Smoke are vatted Islay malts produced by Duncan Taylor & Co., an independent bottler of Scotch originally based in Glasgow with a long and distinguished history. They don't reveal which distilleries provide the whisky that goes into either bottling, but it's not like the list of possibles is very long. It appears from casual reading that principal difference between The Big Smoke and Auld Reekie is age: Auld Reekie is 12 years old, while The Big Smoke is younger (how much younger is not specified). The Big Smoke also comes in both a 40% bottling and a cask-strength (60%) bottling, although I've only ever seen the 40% bottling. Age tends to mellow and reduce the impact of peat, so I would expect The Big Smoke to be wilder and more smoky. Neither one of them is cheap (The Big Smoke 40% sells for $41 a fifth at Spec's, while Auld Reekie goes for nearly $57 a fifth), even when compared with the available Islay distillery bottlings of comparable age. If I were Ben (and believed that the mo' peaty the mo' better), I might give The Big Smoke try. In fact, I hope he does, which would allow me to bum a dram off of him without investing the money in a whole bottle.

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