Thanks to /u/nofansky for the sample via /r/ScotchSwap on reddit.
There are a number of these non-age stated whiskies from undisclosed distilleries out there, particularly from Islay. This one is put out by independent whisky bottle A.D. Rattaray.
It’s made from small batches of 5-10 casks each all from a single distillery, so it still bears the title Single Malt even if the name of that distillery is not disclosed. While each Islay distillery has quite a unique profile it is still hard to identify them by smell and taste alone, especially at such a young age (some trustworthy reviewers seem to point to this being around 6-7 years matured).
We can however do some detective work and narrow the options down. A.D. Rattaray’s website states that it’s peated to around 35ppm. Of the Islay distilleries we have Caol Ila who peat their whiskies to around 30-35ppm and Lagavulin who peat to around 35-40ppm. Caol Ila produces a lot of whisky compared to the other Islay distilleries and independent bottlers like to buy their stuff, but Lagavulin generally don’t let independent bottlers use their name so it’s usually undisclosed. So this bottling is most likely one of the two.
Aged 3 years*. 46% ABV. (Can’t find a statement about chill filtration but it certainly feels non-chill filtered).
*for lack of age statement
Nose: Mineral peat smoke, along with that sweet peat note in younger Islay malts. Quite malty. Brine. Mulch. Dry wood on the beach. Honey. Ginger. Allspice. Slightly charred brisket. After some glass time some fruits notes come forward, mainly plums, peaches and lychees.
Palate: Very ashy. Along with some vegetal peat notes. Green herbs. Honey. Peaches. There’s a somewhat unpleasant bitter note here that’s not so well balanced. Salt and sourdough towards the end.
Finish: Long. Leaves quite an oily feel in the mouth. Sweet basted meat. Juicy fruit salad. Salt, lots of salt and some coriander.
Would I buy this: No
Would I order this in a bar: Yes
Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes
This was pretty nice for a cheap single malt. It hits all the Islay notes, and while young has some complexity. There was the slightly unbalanced bitterness on the palate which was somewhat off putting, but this is still enjoyable if you like the young Islay whiskies.
As for the distillery behind it, I’m going to say it’s Caol Ila because of the ashy note on the palate and the fruits that showed up, just something I usually associate with them.