Last week, I introduced a trio of Rock Island expressions (namely Regular, 10yo and 21yo) here on my blog. Today, I am happy to dive even deeper in the matter and share with you some first-hand information on the latest developments from the Rock Island camp. For this, I reached out to Douglas Laing’s marketing manager Jenny Rogerson and asked her a handful of questions. The read is both diverting and informative; and it will get you up to speed about the what’s new and next for the Rock Island brand. Enjoy it … preferably with a delicious Islands malt in hand!
BarleyMania: In early April of this year, you re-branded your maritime blended malt Rock Oyster as Rock Island. Based on which insights or reflections did you decide to change the product name? And what makes Rock Island the perfect moniker for the Islands expression of your Remarkable Regional Malts series?
Jenny Rogerson: The new name, Rock Island, paints a marvelously maritime picture of the Whisky islands and what the Whisky inside truly tastes like – salty blasts of sea air, wafts of drifting peat smoke and a balanced sweetness. It’s the same delicious spirit inside, but more aptly named! As much as we at Douglas Laing & Co love them, we began to realise that oysters are definitely a “love them or hate them” sort of taste, and some consumers were perhaps deterred from sampling our delicious Whisky because they dislike oysters.
BM: Rock Island consists of whisky from four Scottish islands: Arran, Orkney, Jura and Islay. For most of these, it should be clear which distilleries provided the whisky. But I wonder if you also have one specific “go-to malt” from Islay? Or do you feature different Islay distilleries in different Rock Island expressions (I have noticed, for example, that the level of peatiness can vary a lot from one Rock Island or Rock Oyster bottling to another)?
JR: For us, Big Peat is the ultimate distillation of Islay… We can’t say too much more than that! Each Rock Island release will always contain Malts distilled on Islay, Arran, Jura and Orkney – perhaps one or two other Island Malts will feature sometimes too.
BM: Can we do a little Rock Island deconstruction session, maybe? If you had to describe with only one word what quality each represented island adds to the Rock Island blended malt, which terms would you choose?
JR: Choosing just one word is very, very challenging but we will have a go!
BM: In regard to its recipe, Rock Island’s regular NAS expression is the same as the classic Rock Oyster bottling. Given its quality and popularity, I think it was a good decision not to alter the composition. It has, however, recently been joined by two all-new special editions: a 10-year-old (that is readily available) and a 21-year-old (that comes in limited quantity). Considering that these releases will not stay one-time affairs, it looks like you have big plans for the Rock Island brand. Can you give our readers a brief outline of where the journey will go and what to expect next?
JR: Absolutely! We have big plans for all of our Remarkable Regional Malts. Timorous Beastie, Scallywag and Rock Island now each have a 10 Years Old ongoing expression. The RRM range has always been designed to offer something a little different, and as the brands grow and become more and more readily available, it’s important to us that specialist Whisky retailers continue to offer releases that aren’t on shelf in grocers and supermarkets. For Rock Island in particular, the feedback on the spirit is continually phenomenal, so it’s now our mission to now get it into the hands of more and more Whisky lovers all over the world!
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