While we encountered a younger Isle of Skye offering in a previous life, owner Ian Macleod Distillers has recently brought the entire range of Scotch blends stateside. The lineup runs a broad age gamut, from 8 to 30 years old, and each expression now sports fancy new packaging. Named for Skye, home to Talisker Distillery, these blends incorporate malt whiskies from that island as well as malt and grain whiskies from unnamed Speyside and Lowland distilleries. Let’s check them out.
Isle of Skye 8 Years Old – The nose shows some impressive depth for such a young blend with dark toffee and nougatine. As things bloom in the glass, a big orchard fruit note develops, alongside some subtle woodsmoke. The palate is a bit light with muted flavors of barley sugar, honey syrup, and applesauce, yet there’s still a nice roundness to things. A kiss of peat smoke accentuates a gently peppery palate and fades quickly into a short, baked apple finish. Straightforward and a bit subdued, but still quite a lot of Scotch for your money. 80 proof. B+ / $21
Isle of Skye 12 Years Old (2023) – A slightly bigger aroma than the youngster, but a bit more one dimensional with a blend of sweet cereal and damp, dunnage notes laced with the familiar, gentle peat smoke. The palate is similarly uncomplicated and, if I’m honest, pretty uneventful. Early notes of flat ginger ale and oatmeal cookies are gradually diluted and dissipate across the sip, gaining nothing more for the experience than a subtle, ashy smoke. The finish is short, offering an unusually savory pairing of overcooked malt, roasted nuts, and peppery oak. A very different whisky than what we tasted way back in 2011. 80 proof. B- / $28 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Isle of Skye 18 Years Old – The nose is fresh and rich with orchard fruit pastry: pear tarts and apple turnovers. I would almost peg this as a Speyside single malt, as there’s no real evidence of peat, just a very soft wood smoke in the mix, underneath a pronounced maltiness. As it opens, things seem to brighten with more honey and juicy apple notes. The palate is round and light with buttery notes of apple pie, shortbread, and honey candies. A bit of fresh ginger root emerges on the midpalate before a silky finish of vanilla bean and almond cookies. An elegant and engaging dram. 80 proof. A- / $65
Isle of Skye 21 Years Old – The nose on this expression is a stark contrast to the 18 year old with darker notes of toasted bread, molasses, and charcoal. There’s also something a bit tarry and wine-driven underneath it all, but it’s hard to pinpoint and takes quite a while to bloom in the glass. Thankfully, the palate goes a long way toward making up for the subdued aroma with lush notes of currants, fig jam, and dark chocolate ganache underpinned by exotic oak and oxidized wine. It’s not nearly as decadent as all that sounds, however, with a light body and well-restrained sweetness. The finish arrives with a flourish of baking spice and lingering notes of pipe smoke and chocolate cherries. 80 proof. B+ / $115
Isle of Skye 25 Years Old – Another somewhat restrained nose that begins with biscuits and English breakfast tea before opening to reveal a bit of cocoa and café au lait. The palate is impressively toasted and roasted with dry notes of baking chocolate, malt balls, and coffee grounds. A heathery smoke is laced throughout, adding some heft to an otherwise gentle body. The midpalate offers up richer, sweeter milk chocolate and molasses cookies before a warm finish of nougatine, espresso, and roasted hazelnuts. 80 proof. B+ / $207
Isle of Skye 30 Years Old – The aroma presents a blend of vanilla shortbreads, some sherry-driven almond cookie notes, and soft peat smoke that becomes more cigar ash as things open up with the addition of vanilla custard and sugar wafers. The palate shows its age with a rich, viscous body and notes of buttery Kouign Amman, savory halva, and dark barley sugar. It’s not overly complex, but there’s an elegance at work and a considerable depth of flavor. The finish is generous and sultry with white mocha and dying campfire smoke. 80 proof. A- / $322