Macgavin’s Islay Single Malt Whisky Review

by Ernie Ayres on December 31, 2012

The last few times that I have been in my local liquor store I have picked this bottle up and then set it back down again. $20 for a bottle of Islay Single Malt? How good can this be when it only costs $20? Well, this week I decided to take a gamble and see how it goes. What better way to start the new year than by writing up a Macgavin’s Islay Single Malt Whisky review?

Macgavin's Islay Single Malt The bottle’s label states, “Distilled and Bottled by Alexander Macgavin Co. Ltd. Glascow, Scotland“. After a little research on the web I found that this whisky is actually sourced from one of the big eight distilleries on Islay. Several blog postings I read guessed that Caol Ila was the supplier. If I had to speculate, I would say that this is low grade, maybe even very young Laphroaig.

File this under the “Islay scotch for beginners” department. This is not nearly as complex or peaty as other Islay whiskies, but a very good introduction to someone that may have rejected a smokier scotch in the past. And at 80 proof, it isn’t going to overwhelm anyone with the alcohol aroma or taste.

On the label:

Nose: You can smell the salt straight from the Atlantic.
Taste: A barley surge with hints of summer fruits.
Finish: Dry, with sweet hints of light spice.

Lets see how their description fares against my review.

The label was correct about the nose as there was definitely a hint of salty ocean air with the first whiff. After that I found a sweet and peaty aroma with a little spice toward the end. After adding water I was able to pick out more of the same, plus a little citrus and more sweet caramel and vanilla.

The taste without water was fantastic! Again, the salty front end was there with a sweet, malty undertone. The smoky flavor is actually less peaty Macgavins Islay Single Maltthan I thought it would be but it is there, subtly. Adding a splash of water was disappointing. Maybe it’s already watered down as much as it needs to be. I lost a lot of the flavor with my normal splash so I tried again with about half my normal amount…just call me an overachiever! That too was just too watered down. I still found the sweet, spice and smoke but it was just too muted. I recommend no extra water with this whisky.

The finish was just as the bottle says, sweet hints of light spice. A faint smoky flavor lingered around for a little bit not not too long as to be overwhelming. After the water was added the finish just fell apart. It was gone way too quickly and I didn’t really get the sweet or the spice as before.

I give Macgavin’s Islay Single Malt Whisky a 7.5 out of 10 Noses. As I stated earlier, this is a good scotch whisky for someone that doesn’t want the heavy peatiness found in other Islay scotches. And for the $20 price tag, it’s a good gamble. But for someone looking to add to a single malt collection, you will probably want to steer clear of this.

Have you tried this already? What did you think? Leave comments and opinions below.


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