View Full Version : Signatory Islay 5 year

09-22-2004, 09:42
Hello all. I'm new here but not new to Bourbon or Scotch.

I figured I would post this because this is kind of a nice find for people who like Islay scotches.

For context: I am an Islay guy, Laphroaig is my usual one but Lagavulin 16 is probably my favorite of all.

I went to my local liquor store, and they had a range of cheap scotches with very generic labels (ie: Islay, Highland, Campbelltown, etc). They are all branded Signatory, which is a company who specializes in rebottling other scotches. Sometimes good, sometimes not. There was a copied white piece of paper next to this cheap range describing where they come from, because this information is not on the bottle itself.

Much to my amazement, their Islay 5 year comes from Lagavulin, and it was by far the cheapest one at $13 and change per bottle.

I'm not going to sugar coat this and say it's the best scotch I've ever had, it's not even close, but at $13 it's definitely the best value I've ever seen on a single malt Islay.

The nose is almost pure Lagavulin. I'll have to get out my 16 year to be sure, but I know it well and this one should be close.

The taste is "young". If you're looking for all the tones that Lagavulin has, you're going to be disappointed. But it's definitely in the same territory as Lagavulin 16, just without some of the stuff you get from age.

I'm going to buy 2 or 3 more bottles if I can get a hold of them.

09-24-2004, 05:49
Sounds nice - you should try the "Very young Ardbeg" if you like young Islays. A super sweet intense Islay closely related to its 10YO cousin.



09-29-2004, 19:45
I had Ardbeg 17 once and I wasn't thoroughly impressed, but then again I'm not too fond of Laphroaig 15 either... And the 10 is one of my favorites.

As for the Signatory Islay 5 year, the liquor store got more in (after my friends and I bought them out), and now it's $24.75 instead of $13 and change. They figured that one out. Still a good deal for a single malt, but when Laphroaig 10 is around $40, a 5 year is a tough sell.

09-30-2004, 00:42
That's more like the price we pay for it in the UK. BTW Ardbeg 17 is a very different Ardbeg. Some would say subtle but I would say thin. The 10YO and 6YO are very different Islays - powerful in the extreme. If you've not tried them, and you like Laphroaig 10YO, you should give them a go.

09-30-2004, 15:19
The Signatory "Vintage [X]" line can be a good source of cheap malts, and in many cases the source can be easily identified. "Vintage Highland" may be tough to pin down, but they also offer "Vintage Orkney", "Vintage Mull", "Vintage Campbeltown", and "Vintage Lowland"; in each case the whisky must come from one of a small number of distilleries. I got a pretty good 10-year-old Glen Scotia bottled as "Vintage Campbeltown" and a 9-year-old Littlemill as "Vintage Lowland". The Vintage Orkney must be from either Highland Park or Scapa, either of which would be pretty good. The Vintage Mull, obviously from Tobermory, was not bad.

10-05-2004, 13:42
I recently did some whiskey shopping and I picked up a bottle of Signatory Vintage Islay (5yr). I noticed something interesting: the bottles at Sam's were all at 80 proof, but the bottle I got at Binny's was (according to the label) bottled at cask strength, 116 proof or some such thing.

When the clerk went to ring it up, it wouldn't scan. I wonder if someone accidentally put the special cask strength version on the shelf where the 80-proof is supposed to go? In any event, it should make for interesting tasting.

10-06-2004, 00:38
Tell me what you think, because I've been pondering a bottle of that for a while.

Don't want to make you jealous but I have a 5YO Isle of Jura on order, which is a special release and is apparently the peatiest whisky ever ! (available at thewhiskyexchange.com). They initially produced it to blend, with the normally feeble Jura to put it contention, with the more robust Islays but have bottled some of this concentrate uncut (120 proof) and young.

I'm going to put in a shoot out with GTS 2003, with the winner being me http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/yum.gif

10-06-2004, 13:04
Well, I don't want to make you jealous, but some pals and I have purchased an Octomore case future from Bruichladdich, but the whisky was only distilled two years ago and they don't anticipate bottling it until it is at least eight years old. But they are currently selling futures, at 250 UK pounds per case; i.e., you pay now and then when they bottle it, you can come pick it up, or have it shipped to a Bruichladdich seller near you.

Octomore is a whisky distilled by Bruichladdich from malt specially kilned to be the peatiest possible. The distillate showed phenol levels around 80 ppm; all the smokiest Islays made nowadays are around 40 give or take a bit. During a tour last year (and they do a great tour; if you make it to Islay don't miss it) I got to nose some of the distillate, and it was certainly interesting. It will make a great conversation piece, even if it's not ultimately great whisky---but if their other products are any guide it stands a good chance of success.

However, your Jura will arrive much sooner, and sounds very good. Is this different from "Superstition", which has of late appeared at some stores? If you are talking about Superstition, I will get some right away!

Chuck K.

10-07-2004, 01:15
Wow - that Bruichladdich sounds fantastic. Especially off the back of it (Bruichladdich) being such a fine malt. I've been enjoying their 15YO over the last few weeks and it really is a classy drink. They adhere to good Bourbon principles - high proof, no colouring and no filtering.

With regards the Jura - it's actually a special release exclusive to thewhiskyexchange.com. Jura ran their stills for a week using this heavily peated barley and it is this which is added to the normally feeble Jura to produce the peated version of the Superstition for the Japanese (and American ?) market. That being said its 'only' 60ppm.

Are these futures still available at Bruichladdich ? Because I would certainly be interested in that myself http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

10-07-2004, 23:59
Tried some here are my notes:

Colour: Strong green tea, unusual

Nose: POWERFUL: Ardbeg style peatiness, Fresh malt,
white pepper, hint of licorice.

Taste: VERY AGGRESSIVE: Iodine, burnt wood, Peat, sherry (not much), sweet malt, golden syrup, bicycle inner tubes, intense pepperiness. Slightly reminiscent of Laproaig 10YO CS but pretty unique and much more powerful.

Finish: Hot, Warming, spice, smokey.

Very unique, very powerful and very interesting ....but unlike the Young Ardbeg, which I think is great just as it is, this needs more time in the wood.

Will try it with water at some point !

BTW - the local whisky commission would not allow me to match it with GTS as it was such an obvious mismatch. Against Very Young Ardbeg I'd say lose by KO in 5 http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

10-08-2004, 12:46
Are these futures still available at Bruichladdich ? Because I would certainly be interested in that myself http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

I bought the Octomore future within the last month or so, so as of that recently they were still accepting orders. (The form on www.bruichladdich.com (http://www.bruichladdich.com) says "2002-03 order form", but I think they just haven't updated it.)

In other news, I have now tried that cask-strength Signatory Vintage Islay 5yr. While it's always a dice roll as to what you will get in a bottle like that, I am highly confident that the whisky in my bottle is indeed from Lagavulin. It's not as deep and as subtle as the 16yr (which by the way seems absent from the shelves around here at present) but it has a lot of the Lagavulin characteristics, and despite its youth it's not as harsh as I would have expected. Very drinkable, and cheap enough to drink all the time. A great find, since I haven't seen Finlaggan around here in a while either. I just hope the 80 proof version is as good, since I think that is by far the more common expression.

I may have to pick up a bottle of Jura Superstition, too. It sounds interesting. I have a bottle of Jura 10yr and its not a big favorite, but every once in a while I get in a mood where it is what I want. It's a rather...austere whisky. A little peat would probably make it more interesting.

Chuck K.

10-23-2004, 17:32
On a Scotch forum, somebody said that Signatory Vintage Islay was from Caol Ila. I've had several Caol Ilas, and I am fairly confident that the cask strength stuff I got is from Lagavulin rather than Caol Ila. But, different bottlings of that same "Signatory Vintage Islay" come from different places:

This afternoon I was at a local Binny's and a Signatory rep was there giving samples of various Signatory and Gordon & McPhail offerings. He had some 5 year old Signatory Vintage Islay, and said it was from Laphroaig. He gave me a taste, and it sure did taste like Laphroaig. (Amazingly, although it was only 5 years old, it was not nearly as harsh as I would expect a young Laphroaig to be.) He also had a 10 year old Signatory Caol Ila, which I also tried, and that reinforced for me my confidence that the stuff in the cask strength bottle I have was not Caol Ila (and it certainly wasn't Laphroaig).

I had some again last night...damn, that's good, and at only $19.99 a bottle, a total steal. I'm going back to the store where I found it and buying all the rest. The Signatory rep told me that the cask strength version is no longer available.

10-23-2004, 18:13
Today at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario I saw Caol Ila in 12 and 18 year old expressions. These are distillery bottlings, not merchant. I have had a number of bottlings of this whisky before, all merchant but reputable source (Signatory was one) but I never warmed to them. The taste of the peat always reminded me of old cigarette ashes, like when you'd relight a smoke half-extinguished, or the way an ash tray smells. There are few malts I don't like but that is one of them. And for the price asked, well ... so I opted instead for Crown Royal Special Reserve when the rep giving tastes told me it uses a higher amount of rye whisky (or "rye" she said) than the other Crown Royals (the regular one and Limited Edition). I only had the Special Reserve once or twice before so I bought it and thought it was very good, the rye spiciness is definitely there but of course muted. The whisky is very soft and fudge-like, complex, with hints of bourbon too, even brandy. It is our equivalent of a mocha-like 25 year old malt, our version of Bowmore 25, say, or Lord Of The Isles (Ardbeg 25 years old) - for less than a quarter of the price. I asked the rep to tell her bosses to release some straight rye. I said you can buy it in the States so why not in Ontario, where rye whiskey was once as prominent as on the East Coast in the U.S. and is the progenitor of our current blended style? Eh? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif She looked at me somewhat bemused but said she would feed back the info. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif


10-24-2004, 17:18
damn, that's good, and at only $19.99 a bottle, a total steal

I'm really glad to hear that. I just ordered 2 bottles blindly without tasting it last week because the price was just too good to pass up. I hadn't heard anything about it at all so I'm excited that it actually is value and quality.

10-29-2004, 13:10
I'm really glad to hear that. I just ordered 2 bottles blindly without tasting it last week because the price was just too good to pass up. I hadn't heard anything about it at all so I'm excited that it actually is value and quality.

I hope you like it. One of the risks with an undefined single (especially a bargain basement bottling like the "Signatory Vintage XXX" line) is that they can change the source of the whisky with no indication on the label. With the Vintage Islay, that doesn't appear to be a big deal so far since they have used good peated whiskys so far, although the Vintage Islay used to be Lagavulin and now it's Laphroaig, and there may be some bottles that contain Caol Ila. But those are all good, highly regarded Islay malts, although Laphroaig moreso than the others can be something of a love-it-or-hate-it experience.

Although technically correct, I've always thought it was "cheating" of a sort when someone sells an unidentified Islay and it turns out to be Bunnahabhain or Bruichladdich. Those are both excellent whiskies; indeed, Bruichladdich is one of my very favorite single malts of all, but, they are not peated, and when one thinks of Islay one thinks of powerful smoky whisky.

The other caveat about a young unidentified Islay would be with regard to Bowmore: one reviewer I saw once wrote that a young Bowmore could put a strong man off spirits, and I think that may well be true. Extrapolating back from the 17yo to the 12yo, I shudder to think what a younger version would taste like. Even 12 years is not really enough time to take the rough edges off, so at, say, 5 years I would expect it to be positively caustic. It's available in younger bottlings---Bowmore Legend; McClelland's Islay---but I haven't worked up the courage to try one (and, I don't want to spend money on a bottle purely in the interest of science).

But fortunately I have never heard that Signatory Vintage Islay contained Bowmore. The current stuff is Laphroaig, and if the bottle is older it is probably Lagavulin. Unless you are one of the people who just doesn't like the Laphroaig style, you should be in good shape.

10-29-2004, 13:34
Well put and re Bowmore too when too young. It has a fern-like taste (said to be I think from sandy peat) that I find hard to get past, but recently I had a dram of 25 year old Bowmore and it was the best dram (almost) of my life - outside Kentucky.