Rosemary's MoonBeams podcasts featuring interviews about Food, Life and Whisky. You can subscribe on iTunes here.

Moonbeams #19: The Bottle Bunker #5 - Souvenirs from Islay with Olly Langmead

Duration : 14 minutes

Back from a trip to Islay, home to the peaty whiskies that Olly loves so much, Rosemary is keen to share some of the more unusual whiskies gathered on her travels with her friend in his Bottle Bunker.

Prime whisky real estate! That's the mile or so to the east of Port Ellen in the south of Islay which is home to the distilleries of Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. It was Ardbeg that Rosemary visited, enjoying a wonderful tasting with Jackie Thomson in the distillery's 200th anniversary year: all Olly got was some XXX - you'll have to listen to find out what his Huge present was! There will be more about Ardbeg on the website soon.

This podcast concentrates on a tasting of Bruichladdich's Bere Barley unpeated whisky, and the Loch Gorm expression from Kilchoman, Islay's farm distillery and currently it's youngest whisky production unit too.

The Bere Barley whisky is what took me to Islay. As a food writer I believe passionately in terroir, the influence of the ground on the flavour of the food that is grown or made on it. The idea of taking an ancient strain of barley, grown specifically for Bruichladdich in Orkney, and making it into whisky in the same way as the Classic Laddie, to establish the difference that the grain would make, intrigued me as soon as I heard about it. The golden yellow 2008 vintage has not disappointed at all and is a light yet intense whisky experience. At 50%abv it is no surprise that this dram needs unpacking but is up to you just how much water you wish to add: just a few drops would be my suggestion to enjoy this to the full.

Also at the north western end of Islay is Kilchoman, a farm distillery that celebrates the tradition of small scale, agricultural whisky making. It is not at all muck and straw although it is small, and the whiskies are again a transition, an adventure for anyone who thinks that Islay spirits are all heavily seated and ferociously intense. Olly and I taste the Loch Gorm expression in this podcast, a 46%abv dram bottled at 5 years old after maturation solely in sherry wood, in olorosso butts and hogsheads. Deep chestnut in colour and intense on the nose with huge dried fruits, this was a challenge to Olly who is not by nature a sherry cask man. But I think he came around in the end!

These two whiskies tell a different story of Islay, and one for which I definitely have a taste!