Available only at Trader Joe’s (as far as I know anyways), the Finlaggan Old Reserve is a 3rd party bottling of an Islay single malt and is no joke despite it’s sub $20 price tag. In addition to taking Gold at the international wine and spirits competition it’s received accolades and praise on just about every whiskey site and forum on the web. Being a 3rd party bottling of the much beloved Isaly Single Malts, the Finlaggan OR is a constant subject of debate.
Is it a young Lagavulin, is it a young Laphroaig, is it a young Caol Ila, Bunnahabbin, or Bowmore. Who makes it? Where does it come from? There is almost a religious fervor in trying to figure it out. The only thing that stays constant in these discussions is that it is decidedly a young whisky. So where do I sit? Well after tasting it and a few other Islay’s side by side I have to say that, to me, it tastes like a young Bruichladdich a la Port Charlotte, though it’s nearly impossible that’s what it is.
So for the runners up I’m pegging it to be either a young Caol Ila or Bunnahabbin which is a lot more likely than Lagavulin or Laphroaig. Either way, it’s cheap and if you like the peaty Islay style whiskies it’s incredibly tasty and I highly recommend you try it.
Finlaggan Old Reserve Review
Bottler: The Vintage Malt Whiskey Company
Pale gold, almost pear colored.
Rich peat, vanilla, sweet malt and some candied citrus lift out of the glass and pleasantly fill the olfactory. There is a a touch of brine and a very slight herbal and iodine backbone that runs through the nose giving this whisky far more depth than it’s $19 price tag would have you think.
Peat, vanilla and butterscotch sweetness pairs up with a dose of sweet malt to create sweet and smoky character that I’m an instant fan of. Milky caramel blends with savory salty and grassy notes in the background with a touch of sweet vermouth and overripe orange. Again and again I’m astounded by the depth found in something so cheap.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Very well balanced with a rich body and smooth silken feel, it’s an easy whiskey to relax and enjoy.
Long and winding aftertaste of peat, citrus, caramel, vanilla and malt that fades out to a smoky burnt sweetness like marshmallows charred over a campfire.
This is one hell of a dram and one hell of a mystery. Soft and full it has a strong malty presence that gives it a youthful quality that is fun and inviting. That maltiness blends well with the smoky, savory and sweet qualities of the whisky and creates a balanced and delightful dram that is perfect for casual sipping