For me, the ultimate Burns Night dram is Douglas Laing’s adorable Highlands malt Timorous Beastie. On the one hand, I find every single expression in the range to be absolutely delightful. On the other hand, the packaging and story of the whisky marks a beautiful homage to Robert Burns’ poem “To a mouse”. So every year on January 25, I enjoy a dram (or five) of Timorous Beastie in honor of Scotland’s national bard. And also every year on January 25, I publish a set of tasting notes in poem form for a new expression from the rich Timorous Beastie line. This year, however, I added yet another activity to my Burns Night schedule – a Zoom tasting with Douglas Laing’s brand ambassador Stuart Baxter and business developement manager Helen Barrett. During peak times the two entertained and educated close to 80 participants, together with whom they savored a mousetastic Beastie three-piece: the Regular Edition, the 10 Years Old and the 18 Years Old.
The Regular Edition of Timorous Beastie entered our glasses first. Some five or six years ago, it was my first-ever contact with the brand. While I always have a bottle of it at home, I had not sipped it in quite a while. Drinking it during the virtual Burns Night tasting reminded me of why I love it so much: This blended malt whisky, which according to Stuart is “no way near as timorous as the mouse in the poem”, is fruity, crunchy and sweet. At Douglas Laing, they lovingly call it their “breakfast dram” due to its pronounced flavors of cereals, raisins, honey and the likes. While the mouse on the label is small and cute, the whisky inside is big and bold – at the same time it is also highly palatable and made to be enjoyed with friends! We then moved on to the 10 Years Old. I find this small batch release to be very refined and delicate. Yet, it also has some kind of an edge. The Beastie shows its claws in the form of a fiery spice kick: grated ginger and white pepper add a punchy layer on top of the well-balanced pastry, treacle and fruit notes. In the 18 Years Old, which we drank last, the additional years of maturation clearly show. It is soft, elegant and complex … it even seems a bit reserved at first. It offers white chocolate, tangerines and vanilla alongside heather and honey. During the finish a bit of fresh, green wood appears, too. It is a beautiful high-class addition to the Timorous Beastie line! And it is also one that will not be around forever: Wherease the Regular Edition and the 10 Years Old are permanent expressions, the 18 Years Old is a Limited Edition of 7,258 bottles. Due to the high outturn, it will not be gone from the market tomorrow. But it will be sold out eventually, so you better keep an eye on it.
Besides the fantastic drams, I also enjoyed the atmosphere of the virtual tasting a lot. Stuart and Helen were wonderful hosts with impressive whisky knowledge. In between the drams, they answered all questions that were posted in the chat in detail. They raffled goodie bags among the participants. They shared interesting insights on differing topics, such as Douglas Laing’s wood and maturation strategy. And at one point, Stuart even gave a really impressive rendition of “To a mouse”. Also, him and Helen introduced us to the latest developments in the Timorous Beastie range. One info I soaked in with total excitement: Going forth, the Regular Edition of Timorous Beastie will have an updated recipe. Besides the classic malts from The Dalmore, Glengoyne, Blair Athol and Glen Garioch, it will also contain a proportion of malt distilled at Strathearn, a Highlands-based craft distillery that Douglas Laing acquired in the end of 2019. If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you will probably know that I absolutely love Strathearn! So I cannot wait to try some Beastie that has it in the vatting. I have not the slightest doubt: This little rodent will continue to give us drammers a whole lotta joy in the months and years to come! Slainte mouse!
Timorous Beastie – Regular Edition (Blended Malt Scotch Whisky / Highlands / 46.8% / EUR 35)
Timorous Beastie 10 Years Old (Blended Malt Scotch Whisky / Highlands / 46.8% / EUR 35)
Timorous Beastie 18 Years Old (Blended Malt Scotch Whisky / Highlands / 46.8% / EUR 75)
*** The tasting was open for everyone and I filled the drams from my own bottles. ***