Lambay Whiskey Small Batch Blend & Single Malt
Lambay Whiskey is a partnership between Alexander Baring and Cyril Camus of Maison Camus, a well known Cognac producer. The whiskey takes it's name from Lambay Island, situated 3 miles off the coast of Dublin and is home not only to the Baring family since 1904 (when it was picked up for the princely sum of £5k) but also a herd of cattle, an improbability of puffins and a troupe of wallabies. A rather interesting mix for sure.
The sourced whiskey is taken to Lambay Island to be finished in Cognac casks from Maison Camus for a period of 4 to 6 months before bottling. The marketing blurb that came with the samples told me that the sea and maritime winds around Lambay help influence the final flavours imbuing notes of iodine, seaweed and salt. Finally they take Lambay Island Trinity Well Water to cut the casks to bottling strength to 'perfectly enhance its smoothness'! (To all those marketeers out there - the minute I see 'smooth' or 'smoothness' in marketing material I immediately have 'bland' conjured up in my mind so I'd encourage you to refrain from using it in future)
So what's in the bottles then? The Small Batch Blend is a 70/30 split between wheat grain spirit and single malt that is 4 years old and matured in bourbon casks before a finish of at least 1 month in the cognac casks. It's bottled at 40% and will set you back around £35 a bottle.
The Single Malt is sourced from a undisclosed Irish distillery and is NAS (no-age-statement) again matured in bourbon casks before a 4 to 6 month finish in the cognac casks. Also bottled at 40% this will set you back around £50 a bottle.
Small Batch Blend
Colour: Maizola oil
Nose: pear drops and honeysuckle. Fruit salad sweets. Some light clove with toasted oak and a touch of salted caramel.
Palate: A sugary arrival - sweet vanilla infused white sugar and toffee apples. The grain spirit really pushes through with some lemon peel and warming ground ginger. A buttery note is broken up by toasted oak.
Finish: Quite floral with bitter oak tannins.
Colour: copper blush
Nose: the first note I got was dark chocolate - then it becomes really fruity - ripe red apples, brandy snaps, banana, vanilla cream, sweet malt & bubblegum.
Palate: a light mouthfeel certainly not helped by the minimum abv - fresh and zesty. Cognac influence here more defined. Loads of apples, caramel, grenadine, malt, some tobacco with a slight bitter aniseed note.
Finish: An earthy quality to the finish with salted nuts and milk chocolate.
This has been a brand that I noticed a while ago especially due to their quirky labelling and I was happy to get round to finally trying some of their offerings.
Sadly though I can't say that I'd recommend you purchase either of these expressions.
Firstly the small batch blend. There just is very little going on with this blend and the cognac influence is actually pretty hard to pick up on. To top things off though is the pricing. On Irish Malts this is retailing for £35.95 a bottle which puts it up against offerings from Pearce Lyons, The Silkie and Writer's Tears which are all substantially more flavourful. It's also more expensive than Powers Gold Label or Black Bush and so as a value proposition it just can't compete.
Next up is the single malt which is actually pretty decent and very much a dessert dram. The nose and palate marry up pretty well although the nose just edges the palate. But again it's the pricing that would mean there is no way I'd personally buy a bottle of this. £52 for a NAS single malt with a finish? No thank you. I mean I just picked up the Kilkerran 16 for £58. Below the £52 pricing I could give you a substantial list of Scottish malts and bourbons that I'd point you towards before this expression from Lambay. Within the Irish single malts category I can pick up a Bushmills 10 yr old, Teeling Single Malt, The Tryconnell, Pearce Founders Reserve 12 yr old and Knappogue Castle 12 yr old all cheaper, sometimes substantially cheaper and in many cases being on a par or better in terms of flavour.