Although he was the first Remarkable Malt to hit the market back in 2009, it took Big Peat quite a while until he received a special bottling with an age statement. However, after his friends Scallywag, Timorous Beastie and Rock Oyster had all spawned limited editions with big, parading numbers on the labels, it was only a matter of time until that lovable Ileach would be granted a similar honor. When the moment had come and The Gold Edition of Big Peat launched at the end of last year, whisky fans around the world sat up and took notice. After all, twenty-five years is a damn old age for any beverage. But given the incredible popularity of whisky originating from the southernmost of the Hebrides, such a long maturation time seems even more impressive for an Islay malt. Unlike the standard NAS bottling of Big Peat, the 25-year-old expression does not contain any Port Ellen, by the way. The reason is clear: Since this is a 1992 Vintage (i.e. all malts used in the vatting were distilled in that very year), it cannot contain spirit from a distillery that was mothballed almost a decade earlier. While some might find this unfortunate, I do not consider it a big deal at all. Cause even without that mythical drop of Port Ellen, this is a superb upper-class Scotch that shows the steadied, matured side of Big Peat without disregarding any of his signature traits. Sure, 25 years of age have their price, but if you got the dough and the cash, Peat sure as hell has the smoke and the ash!
Eye: Palid gold.
Nose: Even a codger like Peat calms down with age. The many years in the cask have given this whisky a refined nose with driftwood, marine ropes and clammy stones – yes, this certainly is an Islay malt. The peat is comparatively subtle here, but the more oxygen the liquid gets, the stronger the coal and iodine notes become. Overripe yellow fruits, rain-soaked moss and freshly polished tabletops add further variety.
Palate: Oily and heavy in the mouth, the Big Peat 25yo opens with an interplay of sweet and smoky tastes. Gooey treacle and grilled bananas on the one hand, burnt wood and sizzling coal on the other. Roasted herbs, such as thyme and rosemary, are part of the mix as well. And so is creamy butterscotch. While this vintage premium pour is less punchy and edgy than the regular Big Peat expression, it makes up for this with a more complex, rich and fine-tuned flavor profile.
Finish: Though it does not go on forever, the finish of The Gold Edition is of good length. The malt gets fresher when swallowed, placing dried eucalyptus leaves and powdered white pepper on our tongues. The peat now takes the form of perfumed pipe smoke and torn coal sacks. Well done, ol’ friend. Very well done.
Type: Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Region: Scotland (Islay)
Aged: 25 years
Alc. volume: 52.1%
Bottle size: 0.7 litres
# of bottles: 3,000
Price range: ~210.00 Euro
More info: http://www.douglaslaing.com/ (Bottler) ; http://www.bremerspirituosencontor.de/ (Importer)
*** Whisky sample and photos kindly provided by Douglas Laing & Co. ***