Review – The Scalasaig Island Hopper

Another week and another new independent bottler. This time it is the turn of Colonsay Beverages to launch their first whisky release (they already have gin, vodka and beer within their portfolio) The Scalasaig ‘Island Hopper’.

The company, based on the Scottish island of Colonsay, has vatted together 10 casks from various Scottish island distilleries (hence the “Island Hopper” name) of between 6 to 8 years of age and then married them for 12 months within first fill Oloroso sherry casks from the Jose y Miguel Martin bodega in Jerez. The majority of the liquid comes from Islay with Caol Ila and some peated Bunnahabhain providing the backbone of the blend. It is bottled at 43% and at it’s natural colour. £49.95 buys you one of the 3000 bottles of this initial expression.

All of the above information was happily divulged by the company, it is always refreshing to have so much information available – especially when it comes to blended whiskies. I’m sure I’m not the only one who likes to play “guess the components” so it’s nice to get a little inside information to help get the cognitive juices flowing. 

Scalasaig Island Hopper, (IB) Blended Scotch, 43%abv, (press sample) available here


 The nose is flinty and mineral. Big hits of sea spray, distant phenolic peat and a faint varnish. Burnt hessian, red berries and a zesty twist of lime before fading to leave moist gingerbread. After a while there are elements of wet cardboard, cigar ash and perhaps a touch of charred heather all wrapped up in a brine blanket

After a great nose the palate does feel a little thin. Big costal tones and underlying minerality, tobacco and wood notes reminiscent of cigar humidors. There is a touch of chocolate, a sprinkle of dry spice and a small slice of dutch apple cake.

The finish is a little less unctuous than I’d like but it is pleasant and balanced. Vanilla pods, distant peat – more akin to Highland style peat than islay, white pepper, barley sugars and some distant chocolate and figs fade away nicely.

A really solid dram and rather tasty. Mildly disappointed by the nose to palate transition but in reality that’s a fairly minor grumble.

It’s fun, easy drinking and leaves you with change from £50. What’s not to like?

I’m already looking out for their next release.

**Sample kindly provided as part of a Whisky Wire Tweet Tasting**

You can find more of my tasting notes in the Amateur Drammers Archives.

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Picture courtesy of the Press & Journal


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