Dun Bheagan 8 (Islay)

Looking at the reviews posted so far, you’d think I’m the type who is easy to please—I mean, most whiskies are B+ or higher! Well, there is a selection problem there, of course. Because I’m a grad student (in Ontario, no less,) the whisky budget is small, and the prices are high. Thus, I usually research every potential purchase heavily, and as such, there is a high probability that I will enjoy what I buy. Perhaps that’s what makes my bar tastings the most honest, as I usually just jump into what they’ve got, and don’t have time to look up what the bloggers are saying.

Well, after such a preface, this is a review of a whisky I did not research. It is also, coincidentally, a review of whisky I did not particularly like. However, research may not have helped, as a post-purchase perusal of the notes by the folks at LAWS found that they rated this one a B-, far kinder than I. (Despite their being so harsh on so many whiskies I love so dearly.) I purchased this whisky on a whim, as I was at the LCBO and decided I’d like to have a bottle at the office to be classy like Jack McCoy. It must look very classy, sitting there on my shelf, so amber… and so full.

Nose: Peat x 3. This is pretty much what you’d expect, yes? Medicinal notes. Earthy, smoky, but it isn’t as ‘organic’. It’s as if they had a shaker of peat that they sprinkled into it. Not an astonishing nose, but nothing to suggest anything terribly unpleasant.

Peat: Medium oily. Peat, smoky–but burnt sticks… not really a favourite smoke. Concurring with Adam@LAWS. Some cinnamon.  Mildly sweet. It’s somewhat ashy, but in an unpleasant way. Come to think of it, it reminds me of the McClelland 5yr.

Finish: Peat, slightly sweet, some more unpleasant ashes. Medium-long (though, this is one I wish wasn’t…)

Grade:  D+

Perhaps I’m harsh on this one, but being as this dram received my ‘love of peat’ bonus, and still underperformed comparable price-point drams like The Glenlivet 12 and Glenfiddich 12, I think a grade in the D+ range is warranted. Moreover, it falls dangerously close to the D classification because there are a few occasions where I pour a sliver, and after a few sips wish I could pour it back in the bottle. As always, YMMV. In fact, Chris and Adam of LAWS have found this dram to be a B- with their rather critical (or perhaps, more normally distributed) palates. That said, their batch was bottled in 2008, whereas mine was bottled in 2010. A lot can happen in two years.


9 comments on “Dun Bheagan 8 (Islay)

  1. Alain says:

    I love your blog and I love your writing. Like you, I’m in Ontario and like you, I love Laphroaig. Have you found a cheaper Islay Scotch that’s actually decent? I was hoping this one you just reviewed would be it 🙂

    • Maestro says:

      Alas, the Dun Bheagan was just no good. I’ve started using it for cooking, and it does well in Shepherd’s pie, but I wouldn’t drink it by choice.

      As a fan of Laphroaig, it’s hard to find a really good Islay that’s any cheaper than the QC. My only other suggestion is the Bowmore 10 Tempest. While it is more expensive than the QC by about $7, the fact that it’s cask-strength means you’ll probably add a teaspoon (~5mL) of water to every ounce or so. If you do, then your bottle of Bowmore effectively decreases cost-wise to about $2.50 a dram, over Laphroaig’s QC, which is about $2.80.

      If it’s the peat you’re looking for, I hear the Ardmore Traditional Cask peated Highland is a real cracker, but the LCBO hasn’t stocked it in a while. They haven’t discountinued it, though, so it should be back eventually. It runs around $45, so I’ll definitely pick up a bottle when it returns and review it.

  2. Godfrey says:

    Well. Where to begin. This is the first time I have made a comment to anything I have read on line. So it must be important.

    I too am an Ontario Scotch drinker and in all my years of tasting and enjoying Scotch whiskey, I have rarely been disappointed. Not always thrilled, but never as appalled as I was with the Dun Bheagan 2008 Limited Edition.

    After checking the nose, first on the amber liquid in the glass and then the one on my face, I thought, “Oh, that’s different.” I searched for words to describe it, and after peat, medicinal and some charred, ancient unknown root covered in earth, I stopped. Then I tasted it. To make a long story short, I was glad it was a limited-edition.

    I honestly tried to find any redeeming features that would allow me to keep this bottle, but I could find none. I always do my best to find the good in something, so I finished the glass. It didn’t get any better. Your D+ was more than generous.

    Yesterday, I took the Dun Bheagan back to the LCBO and exchanged it [Yes, you can do that! I just told them, “It tasted horrible.”] for a 12-year-old Glenfarclas. No, it wasn’t an Islay, but it is a good Highland whiskey and at $10 more it made up for my mistake of the previous day.

    I learned something important about Scotch whiskey a number of years ago. A blended Scotch can be as enjoyable as some single malts. Don’t sell them short.

    My favorite, which never fails me, and only costs $37.95 is Té Bheag. Always enjoyable. I recommend it highly and have never heard any complaints.

    At a recent whiskey tasting, I was surprised by, believe it or not, Crown Royal Black whiskey beautiful flavor.

    I enjoyed your evaluations. Keep up the good work.

  3. Godfrey says:

    I must correct myself.

    Té Bheag is my favourite inexpensive Scotch whiskey.

    My favorite by far is Lagavulin 16.

    I’m glad I cleared that up.

    • Maestro says:

      Don’t worry, I knew what you meant. I’d recently bought a bottle of the Glenfarclas 12, and it’s a really great (relatively) inexpensive buy. Of course, it’s not just $10 more than the Dun Bheagan, it’s also 50ml less, but the difference in quality is well worth it.

      I have a hard time finding good blends because I don’t like the way grain whisky meshes with malt. Maybe I just haven’t found “the one” yet.

      A friend once introduced me to Crown Royal No. 16 (it was about $100/bottle) and it was the smoothest and most delicious Canadian whisky I’d ever tasted.

  4. Dan says:

    A lot can happen in two years…I have a bottle of the 2002/2010, and I’ve heard that the 2003/2011 isn’t as good…however, I was in an LCBO outlet over the weekend and noticed that the 2005/2013 bottling is gone and has been replaced by a 2008/2013 version…so it is no longer even an 8 year-old whisky…but the price hasn’t changed. As Godfrey notes, the Te Bheag is much, much better, as is the Islay Mist 8 year-old (even if they are both blended whiskies)…

    Like you, I’ve started using the 2002/2010 for cooking and other things: it makes a mean whisky matured cheese (see the recipe here: http://www.awardrobeofwhisky.com/post/how-to-make-whisky-matured-cheese).

  5. Tony says:

    Do not buy this unless you like the taste of ammonia and the smell of garbage ash in your drink.
    My kitchen still reeks from one shot I poured yesterday.
    I was not successful in returning my open bottle to the LCBO as they think this is what peated whisky should taste like.

  6. Eric says:

    BS .. .its an amazing scotch . I am half drunk on it right now

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