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Perilous Whisky
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The world's most alcoholic single malt ever made has been revived by the ancient tradition of quadruple distilled single malt.

More than 300 years ago the legendary traveller Martin Martin recorded his impressions after encountering a similar whisky on his visit to the Hebrides in 1695.

In his travel book, The Western Islands of Scotland, Martin refers to a quadruple distilled whisky known as "usquebaugh-baul" - the Gaelic for 'perilous whisky' (thanks to Pat Mcgregor for the translation) and wrote what is probably the world's oldest whisky tasting note:

"… the first taste affects all the members of the body: two spoonfuls of this last liquor is a sufficient dose; and if any man should exceed this, it would presently stop his breath, and endanger his life."

The aim was to replicate this 300 year old tasting note from this ancient recipe: the spirit run started at 11.30 on Monday the February 27th.

Master Distiller Jim McEwan's tasting note on the new spirit: "It first 'ran' from the stills at 92% then down to 88% which will make an average of about 89-90% ABV.

It must be very similar to the whisky tasted by Martin all those years ago. On entry the flavour is cool, fizzy, citrus - lemon and honey, then the taste of soft gooseberry and pear in syrup evolve as it glides across the palette with cereal and toasted muffins in the slipstream.

There is no evidence of the power at this stage because the viscosity is almost like glycerine, however as it engages the taste receptors at the back of the tongue it really hits the booster button and an amazing heat floods deep into the chest.

It's brilliantly fresh and fizzy with an extremely pleasant afterburner effect and leaves an aftertaste that is superb, not long, but unforgettable - believe me".

In 1695 the spirit would have been drunk straight from the still - and would certainly have been perilous indeed. There are two possible theories as to why it was originally made:

Firstly, alcohol was, and is, used to extract active agents from plants for medicinal use known as tinctures e.g Laudanum (opium) enjoyed by Queen Victoria, Lavender Water (Lavender) by Oscar Wilde, Gripe water (dill seeds) given to children up to thirty years ago. The more it was distilled, the purer the alcohol, the better the extraction of the active agent.

Secondly, the danger for inexperienced distillers on home made equipment is the separation of the potentially lethal methanol from the good ethanol - the desirable middle cut. Both being clear, it would have been difficult for the untrained eye to differentiate between the two.

Consumption of the impure spirit could lead to blindness (hence 'blind drunk') and ultimately death. Consequently, distilling three or even four times would have reduced this risk in the days before proper distilling techniques were employed.

54 American Oak casks have been filled for maturation. It will lose strength to the angels as it matures. When it is deemed to be ready to drink by Master Distiller Jim McEwan, it will be Islay bottled at the strength deemed appropriate at that time.

Some will be further matured for the maximum term: starting with such high alcohol, this unique whisky will still be maturing well in to it's seventieth year. Another first.



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