When a superstar of the whisky world, such as Douglas Laing’s Islay-born Big Peat, celebrates his birthday, the guestlist looks exquisite. Today, I am happy to introduce you to three high-percentage party animals that came together to celebrate the afore-mentioned occasion. Besides the birthday boy himself (Big Peat 10yo), I have also savored two of his new friends from the Remarkable Malts line, namely the fourth iteration of The Gauldrons from Campbeltown and the new Scallywag 12yo in cask strength from Speyside. A cracking crowd, without a doubt!
Big Peat 10yo
(Remarkable Malts • Blended Malt • Islay • Oak casks)
Happy smokin’ birthday, Big Peat! Who would have thought that Douglas Laing’s signature Islay malt has already been with us for a full decade? Of course, this calls for an anniversary bottling. Said whisky is 10 years old (makes sense, eh?) and limited to 5,000 bottles. Both in the nostrils and on the tongue, Big Peat 10yo is very smoky, maritime and briny. I smell chimney wood, grilled pork and harbor walls as well as distinct barbecue and peat notes. The first sip is really sweet. Then, veggie notes chime in. Plus minerals, sea spray, soft fruits and – of course – smoke! The finish took me by surprise. I was pretty sure I would get more peat and brine, but I would never have thought that they came along with a mouthful of marzipan! This was as lovely as it was unexpected. And it makes perfect sense: apparently, Big Peat ordered a marzipan cake for his birthday.
The Gauldrons Batch 4
(Remarkable Malts • Blended Malt • Campbeltown • Oak casks)
From the peninsula of Kintyre comes The Gauldrons, which is the youngest member of the Remarkable Malts family. It was introduced in late 2017 and represents the Campbeltown region. This review is for Batch 4, which Douglas Laing announced a month ago as a whisky with “a spicy, peppery palate with hints of puff smoke”. A statement I am happy to confirm. The nose seemed somewhat fresh to me, but also sturdy. It had thick beeswax, gooey resin, distinct spices and slightly mushy fruits. Also cookie dough and a bit of peat. The palate was powerful and oily – just as I expected it from a Campbeltown malt. It offered a lot of licorice, a good amount of honey, some old peaches and a pinch of salt. I also sensed milky and mineral notes in it. The medium finish then reminded me of sour dough bread with prune jelly enshrouded in a cloud of cigarette smoke. So far, no two batches of The Gauldrons were the same. But they all have one thing in common and that is a consistently high level of quality.
Scallywag 12yo CS
(Remarkable Malts • Blended Malt • Speyside • 1st fill sherry)
The latest addition to the Scallywag pack is one of those whiskies that have all the right boxes checked: a 12-year-old Speysider in cask strength that is matured exclusively in first fill sherry casks (Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez). Its color is gold with a reddish hue and its bouquet is mouthwateringly opulent. It offers superbly balanced notes of pastry, sugar, wood and fruits. Among others, I made out strawberries with whipped cream, sherry oak, raspberry cake and citrus. Mhhh! On the tongue, the whisky feels creamy, full-mouthed and high-class with rum truffles, dark berries and a wee bit of cinnamon. The lasting finale brings blueberries, orange peel, spices and charred oak into play. Despite its raised ABV, the Scallywag 12yo Cask Strength ends on a soft and mellow note. There is only one way to put it – this is an absolute top dog!
Big Peat 10yo (Blended Malt / Islay / 10yo / 5,100 bottles / 46% / ~65 Euro)
The Gauldrons Batch 4 (Blended Malt / Campbeltown / NAS / ? bottles / 46.2% / ~55 Euro)
Scallywag 12yo CS (Blended Malt / Speyside / 12yo / 6,000 bottles / 53.6% / ~75 Euro)
*** Whisky samples kindly provided by Douglas Laing & Co. ***