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Staoisha releases originate from Islay’s Bunnahabhain distillery (write that down), and are an often-utilized pseudonym by the company for independent bottling purposes. A store pick for Chicago-based chain Binny’s, this Signatory release recently made its way down the interstate and into my hands courtesy of fully vaccinated, thoughtful friends passing through on their way to visit family for the first time in over a year.
At only 5 years of age I had a slight hesitancy as to whether or not this would carry on Islay’s reputation of delivering brutish, smoky complexity. All concern was immediately brushed aside upon the moment of the bottle opening.
The nose is exactly what an Islay fan would expect: pronounced and full of salted, coastal, peated notes giving way to mild vanilla. After a short rest in the glass the peat calms a bit and a mild caramel note comes through, especially after adding a few drops of water. Thankfully, the palate continues this trend, along with notes of smoked meats, burnt coconut chips and black tea. On the finish there is a wonderfully oscillating wave of smoke and spice that is long and rewarding, full of cinnamon red hot candies, peat, and campfire smoke.
In his review last year for Ardbeg’s Wee Beastie, Mike mulled over the question of whether more distilleries would join the trend of putting out younger aged spirits, slapping the distillate’s youthful age unashamedly on the label rather than hiding behind a “no age statement” protocol. Like any younger sibling looking to hold their own in a battle, this stands up well against older expressions and is a pleasant reward.
By the time this review goes to press, the allocation very well may have run dry. However, if the opportunity presents itself to purchase a bottle, do not hesitate to lay some coin or plastic down on the counter.
119.4 proof. Edition of 266 bottles.
A- / $75
Signatory Staoisha Heavily Peated 5 Years Old