I found this whisky on a bottom shelf at the liquor store; it was on sale (thirty-percent off: I assume the store is making room for new product), so I thought I’d give it a try. Once I’d placed the bottle on my shelf I began a search on the internet for Finlaggan, a distillery I was unfamiliar with…
It turns out that the Finlaggan brand is a bit of a mystery: there is no distillery of that name; rather, the name derives from the Finlaggan Castle on Islay (pictured on the label), the historic residence of the Lord of the Isles. Apparently, Finlaggan Old Reserve originates from one of the Islay distilleries and is a consistent product. Whichever distillery produces the whisky is a closely guarded secret.
Appearance: pale, pale straw
A quick nosing identified the dram as an Islay product: perhaps a youthful Lagavulan, Ardbeg or Laphroaig (I’ve never sampled Caol Ila, another possibility): reminiscent of idling on a seaside boulder beneath the creosote decking of a dock, the morning fog deposited a smoky, maritime dew on my nostril hairs. I added several liberal drops of water to the cask-strength dram, liberating a citrus spirit and more smoky peat: an agreeable, youthful exuberance.
Tasting echoed the nose (with the additional nuance of surreptitious turpentine); a feisty, cask-strength dram, but enjoyable neat.
Finish: a long, dry, smooth-smokiness with subtle brine.
I’ve sampled the whisky three times now and it is truly growing on me; a first-rate youth.