As an avid BarleyMania reader you will have noticed that Douglas Laing has always been one of the most talked-about companies on our pages. I just can’t help it, but I have been in love with them from the moment I first laid eyes on the cute label of their Highlands blend Timorous Beastie. And that love only grew over time. So when I was invited to join their honorary ambassadors, the Douglas Laing Fellows, in April, I happily jumped on board. Thankfully, the responsibilities attached to that position are readily comprehensible. Other than contributing one or two guest blogs to www.DouglasLaing.com per year, I am not asked to do anything out of band. I do, however, receive a bunch of samples every once in a while that I might or might not comment on. As tasting and discussing new whiskies is always great fun to me, I am glad to go with the first option. So here’s a roundup of the contents of my latest Fellows package, consisting of Douglas Laing’s two Feis Ile 2017 bottlings as well as three Remarkable Malts special editions with an age statement.
Timorous Beastie 18yo
(Remarkable Malts • Blended Malt • Highlands • 46.8%)
Douglas Laing’s “Mighty Mouse” is back! Vatted from a fine selection of well-aged Highland malts, the new Timorous Beastie 18yo is lighter and more elegant than its NAS counterpart. While floral scents and lemon whiffs dominate the nose, a delicious interplay of sweet and flowery notes unfolds on the palate. Besides lemon, honey and grain I also made out marzipan, clover and grapes. Compared to the regular Timorous Beastie, which is surprisingly sturdy, this one comes across a bit coy. Instead of exiting with a bang, it tippytoes away on prancing feet. Give it the time and attention it deserves and you will be rewarded with an exquisite Scotch whisky of masterful make and considerable complexity.
(Remarkable Malts • Blended Malt • Speyside • 46%)
Our furry friend Scallywag has seen various special editions before, albeit never one with an age statement. Until now! Made from a variety of fully sherry-matured Speyside malts, the Scallywag 13yo is the darkest of the five drams I was sent. Being sweet with fruits and spices, I sensed ripe plums, juicy oranges and dried cherries as well as a good dose of garden lovage when I smelled it. In the mouth, it started with an intense sherry kick, accompanied by vanilla, wood and red fruits. Towards the end, a luscious sweetness and a certain bitterness intertwined to form a strong and very pleasing finish. This whisky is a real treat for sherry fans and dog persons alike.
Rock Oyster 18yo
(Remarkable Malts • Blended Malt • Islands • 46.8%)
Rock Oyster often seems to get a bit less recognition than the other whiskies of the Remarkable Malts range. Maybe that is because an oyster – unlike a dog, a mouse or a fisherman – does not have a face and is thus a little harder to relate to. Be this as it may… with Rock Oyster 18yo, Douglas Laing has just released a new limited edition of its salty “clam dram”. Bursting with grilled banana, honey-coated riblets, caramelized ginger and the obligatory dose of sea salt, this is as fine a maritime whisky as it gets! No wonder, the one and only Serge of Whisky Fun rated it with an impressive 89 points out of 100.
Big Peat Feis Ile 2017
(Remarkable Malts • Blended Malt • Islay • 48%)
Big Peat’s Feis Ile 2017 bottling is the only whisky of this quintet that I had already tried before. As soon as it became available, I pre-ordered no less than two bottles of this smoky Islay blend. On the one hand, I was very curious to try the first-ever sherry-finished Big Peat expression. And on the other hand, I did not want to miss the only whisky out there that sports a photo of myself on the tube. Yes, that’s right. Prior to the release, good ol’ Peat called upon his pals from all over the world to send him their pictures. And they answered his call aplenty! All in all, more than 300 shots were submitted and turned into the kick-ass collage that graces this smokebomb’s beautiful boxing. I am quite proud that I made it on there as well and I am also really glad that I ordered not one but two bottles of this whisky. After all, the first one is already more than half-empty…
Caol Ila 6yo Feis Ile 2017
(Provenance • Single Cask • Islay • 50.6%)
When Douglas Laing announced this whisky from their Provenance line as their commemorative bottling for the latest Islay festival, not all drammers rejoiced. Some found a young Caol Ila not special enough for such an occasion. And yes, on paper a vintage Port Ellen would certainly have looked more impressive. But it would also have been 20 times as expensive. So personally I was quite happy to see the Glasgow-based company take the rather bold move of proclaiming a 6 years old peatmonster from the north-east coast of Islay their Feis Ile dram of 2017. And I was even more happy when I finally got to sip from this bottle and learn that its contents are really excellent. In the heavy but also fresh nose, I made out pears, barley, mint and smoke. And maybe also a bit of vanilla. On the tongue, I was then surprised by an almost sugary sweetness, which I did not expect at first. Soon after, that sweetness was washed away by a wave a soot, promoting an oily mouthfeel and making my peat-loving heart bump with excitement. This certainly is a very awesome (and quite affordable) Islay malt!
Timorous Beastie 18yo (18 Years / Blended Malt / Highlands / 46.8% / ~75 Euro)
Scallywag 13yo (13 Years / Blended Malt / Speyside/ 46.8% / ~60 Euro)
Rock Oyster 18yo (18 Years / Blended Malt / Islands/ 46.8% / ~80 Euro )
Big Peat Feis Ile 2017 (NAS / Blended Malt / Islay / 48% / ~100 Euro)
Caol Ila 6yo Feis Ile 2017 (6 Years / Single Malt / Islay / 50.6% / ~60 Euro)
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*** Whisky samples kindly provided by Douglas Laing & Co. ***