My Islay Trip Part 1 – A stopover in Glasgow and a tasting at the Bon Accord

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I just recently returned from a trip to the beautiful island of Islay. Islay is a little green island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, and is most well known for being home to 8 whisky distilleries who make some damn fine stuff.

I’ve wanted to visit Scotland for a very long time and finally had the chance to do so. I ended up having to go alone (which I actually enjoy doing now and then) and that kind of drove my reasoning to just go to Islay, as a large part of the trip would be drinking whisky, I wanted somewhere where I wouldn’t need to drive. After some research I figured that I could do pretty well on Islay getting around by bus, taxi or just on foot.

My route took me via Amsterdam to Glasgow where I had an overnight stay and then a short flight to Islay the next morning. I ended up booking a room in the hotel next to the airport and then went off to explore Glasgow a little. A lot of my friends were very insistent that I should go and see a pub called the Bon Accord.

I walked into what felt like a typical British pub, complete with old wooden decor and a bunch of merry folk. I then looked up and saw an astoundingly large collection of whisky, including a lot of old and rare stuff. I then noticed that the bar extends further back with even more interesting things. After being made very welcome by Thomas, and some tough decision making I decided to order a 35 year old Brora. As I’ve explained before, Clynelish was the first single malt whisky I really discovered on my own and so I have an affinity for it, and Brora was its sister distillery that was shut down in the 80’s. So it’s not often that I get a chance to try some.


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Brora 35 2012 release

Aged 35 years. 48.1%ABV. Bottled at cask strength.

Nose: Leather. Old sherry notes. Waxy fruit peels. Farm notes, cow pie, earth and hay. Orange peel in dark chocolate. Honey.

Palate: Very woody maple syrup. Charred wood. Bitter sherry. Roasted nuts. Bit of coal dust and bitter citrus.

Finish: Long. Bitter wood. Leather. Wintergreen. Mild farmy notes again, perhaps even a tad medicinal.

Would I buy this: Yes

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: N/A

Wow, just wow. There are certain notes in whisky that really make it special for me and Brora just has them all, the leather, the farmy notes, the citrus & dark chocolate. This was a really fantastic one, the ABV was just right, the balance was just right, and the atmosphere was just right too.


While I was sipping away I remembered that one of my friends had told me to give his regards to Paul. Paul, it turns out is the owner of the Bon Accord and he really made me feel welcome. He also invited me to a tasting being held by the bar’s whisky society where they were trying some really special bottles, mainly this year’s special releases from Islay.

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I had a really awesome time there, met some great regulars and a few tourists like myself and tried some fantastic whiskies, all of which were new to me aside from the Lagavulin 8.


Tamdhu Batch Strength

We started on the Tamdhu Batch strength. There are some Tamdhus available here but they are the really basic expressions, and I can’t say I’m a huge fan. This is a new NAS release matured in sherry casks and bottled at cask strength (or batch strength more correctly)

Aged 3 years*. 58.8%ABV. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength. 

*for lack of age statement

Nose: Vanilla. Honey. Slightly spicy. Cinnamon. Wintergreen. Light fruits. After some time this really great butterscotch and honeycomb (the candy) note showed up.

Palate: Nutty wood. Orange peel. Woodspice. Juicy plums. The butterscotch note that showed up on the nose carried through to here.

Finish: Long. Plums. Rich sherry. Green herbs.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 3/5

I was a bit apprehensive at first, it seemed like a generic speysider with a hefty kick, but after some glass time it opened up and was quite nice, lots of rich fruits. But what really struck me was when I came back to a little bit left in the glass at the end of the tasting and it had this butterscotch note to it, really nice.


Bruichladdich PHD_135

Next up was Bruichladdich’s 2016 festival bottling. An interesting one as it’s lightly peated, so it doesn’t fit their unpeated Bruichladdich label nor the peated Port Charlotte label.

Aged 15 years. 50%ABV. Matured in 1st fill bourbon, sherry and wine casks. No colourant added and non-chill filtered. 

Nose: Lactic. Caramel. Earthy funk. Some farmyard notes, straw and manure. Wood oils. Basil.

Palate: Parsley. Salt. Leather. Burned sugar. Sweet fruits.

Finish: Long. Oranges. Woodspice. Oils.

Would I buy this: Yes

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 3/5

I find the unpeated Bruichladdich a bit too lactic and cloyingly sweet for my tastes, but I do like the Port Charlotte whiskies. This one had enough of the Laddie character to be a bit different but enough peat to not be too cloyingly sweet. I liked it a lot, almost got a bottle at the distillery but went for the PC9 bottle-your-own instead, but only by a very slight margin. Probably my favorite of the 2016 festival releases that I tried.


Bunnahabhain 12 Mòine 

Bunnahabhain’s offering for the 2016 festival, a 12 year old peated malt matured in bourbon and finished in sweet PX sherry. I like Bunnahabhain, I like peated whisky with a PX finish.

Aged 12 years. 54.6%ABV. Matured in bourbon casks and finish in PX casks. No colourant added. Non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength.

Nose: Cereals. Honey. Salt. Oily chips. Sweet Peat. Vanilla. Wet leaves.

Palate: Big peat notes on the palate. Lemon oils. Grass. Honey.

Finish: Long. Mulch. Salty Peat. Honey. Green herbs.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: No

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 2/5

This was quite a nice one. I liked how the nose was quite mellow and then there was a huge hit of peat on the palate. This one felt a bit too ‘Green’ (best way I can describe it) for me, but that’s just down to personal taste, still a solid dram.


Kilchoman 10 Private Cask Release

This was a real special one. It’s from a cask that was sold privately when the distillery was just starting out and then bottled earlier this year. This is one of the very first Kilchoman casks, the cask number 14/2006 means the 14th cask filled in 2006, their first year of operation, also making it one of longest matured Kilchomans around.

Aged 10 years. 57%ABV. Matured in a bourbon cask. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength from cask 14/2006.

Nose: Farmy. Creamy caramel pudding. Vanilla. Rich rich wood and earthy Peat. Candied orange peel.

Palate: Chewy acacia sap. Vanilla. Citrus spray. Honey. Woodspice. Sandalwood.

Finish: Long. Huge wood note. Pine sap. Marmalade.

Would I buy this: Yes

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: N/A

This was simply amazing! One of the best whiskies I’ve tried. It was exceptionally well balanced and the peat notes were bold, but light so the cask influence could also shine through. I’m really excited now to see some older Kilchomans once their stocks are matured more.


Caol Ila 12 Feis Ile 2016

This is the 2016 festival bottling from Caol Ila. I quite like the distillery and am a fan of their annual “unpeated” releases, so I was excited for this, as it was my first festival bottling from Caol Ila.

Aged 12 years. 56.2%ABV. Matured in hogsheads and sherry butts. Non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength.

Nose: Ashy Peat. Char. Lemon. Oil smoke. Porridge. Papier-mache.

Palate: Oil smoke. Tar. Seafood. Lemon juice. Garlic bread.

Finish: Long. Olive oil. Wood smoke. Bitter wood. Lemon zest.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 3/5

This wasn’t a bad dram. Very full-bodied and chewy, with some nice herbal and oily notes to it. I just found it a little bit underwhelming, like it was missing something special.


We also tried the Lagavulin 8, but I’ve already reviewed that one so I didn’t take notes on it.

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I had an amazing time, Paul really made me feel welcome in his pub, and I really appreciate him inviting me to the tasting and sharing such lovely whiskies with us all. The openness and friendliness of the other people at the Bon Accord, staff, regulars and other tourists alike, really set my trip off to a good start. I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in Glasgow.

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One thought on “My Islay Trip Part 1 – A stopover in Glasgow and a tasting at the Bon Accord

  1. Pingback: My Islay Trip Part 6 – Bunnahabhain & Caol Ila – Stuff I Like

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