I was lucky enough to taste last year’s SMWS Feis Ile bottling at the 2015 SMWS open day at Islay House – it was my first time on Islay so it was a particularly special dram for me. Needless to say, I was very excited to sample this year’s release – Cantina Mexicana!
Not only does it look lovely in the glass – a wonderful deep amber colour – but its aromas manage to fill the room before I’ve even begun nosing. The powerful nose transports me to the ‘The Great Outdoors’ – campfires and their dying embers on an autumnal evening – commingling with fresh pine needles on a warm breeze. Campfires became BBQ’s – smoked pork, Manzanilla olives and a leafy rocket side salad with a balsamic dressing.
Patience before feasting eventually reveals a clandestine sweetness – toasted almonds, rock candy and salted Moffatt toffee reveal the cask’s heritage.
On the palate it was smoke pork, especially pork scratchings – initially crisp, salty and dry. The BBQ smoke and nutty sweetness of the nose is mirrored in the palate though tasting transforms the nose into a more perfumed, floral, sherried character.
It becomes incredibly salty and maritime – smoked salmon and rock salt on board an old trawler. Despite the hubbub of the fireside camp found in the nose, the palate is deceptively mild-mannered and like the perfect dinner guest, regales and entertains without overstaying its welcome. The finish is peppery and rich, with cinder toffee, chocolate, liquorice and peppered steak.
If you don’t make it to this year’s Feis Ile, then one sip of this whisky does a very good job of transporting you there.
Name: 127.44: Cantina Mexicana
Age: 12 years
Cask type: Second fill Oloroso butt
Outturn: 588 bottles
Price: SMWS members: £120, non-members: £240
127.44: Cantina Mexicana will be released for sale at Islay House Open Day on 20th May 2016. You will also be able to purchase the bottle via smws.com from Thursday 26th May and in UK venues from Friday 27th May.
Join us at a special members preview tasting at The Vaults on Thursday 26th May for a chance to preview five whiskies, including the Feis Ile special release. Tickets on sale here.