Before we get excited about another new expression from the progressive Hebridean Distillers there is another Islay whisky related news item to report first. I found a nice news item in the Grand Forks Herald, an American newspaper which serves North Dakota. They picked up a message from the Canadian Press about a Bowmore whisky enthusiast who gave himself a nice present for Christmas, at least for a couple of days that is:
A Winnipeg man has purchased both bottles of a limited edition of Bowmore Black Islay Single Malt Whisky that were brought into the province last week. The total price of the two most expensive bottles ever sold in Manitoba â€” $8,726.32. Kurt Janzen, store manager of the Bunnâ€™s Creek liquor mart, where one bottle was displayed in a protective case, said neither bottle was officially for sale until Monday, but the man secured both on Saturday.
It's a relatively short distance from Bowmore to Bruichladdich where Mark Reynier announced yet another new expression, X4 Islay Spirit: In 1695 a Hebridean traveller, Martin Martin, wrote of an ancient, powerful spirit known as 'usquebaugh-baul' (oosh-ker-vah-voll), Gaelic for 'perilous whisky'. He was told: "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." Continue reading.....Its fearsome reputation came from a unique quadruple distillation - the extra two distillations increasing the purity of the spirit while raising the strength to 90% ABV. Aquavit, vodka, eau-de-vie, usquebaugh all mean 'water of life' for in mediaeval times of disease and plague alchemists believed, with good reason, that high strength alcohol was a life preserver.
The new spirit X4 was recreated in 2008 by distilling director Jim McEwan at Islayâ€™s Bruichladdich distillery, before being reduced to a less perilous 50% ABV at bottling. "X4 has loads of flavour, itâ€™s no mere vodka substitute. Itâ€™s the original usquebaugh, the spirit of the Vikings that our forefathers knew. They didnâ€™t wait to mature it, nor did we. Itâ€™s a little bit of history - so savour the flavour."