Tag Archive: 8 Year


Douglas Laing: Big Peat A846: Feis Ile 2020 (Scottish Blended Malt Islay Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, slightly greened grain coloured spirit. Generally fast, middling sized streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Medical salve and medical bandages. Notable alcohol. Soft fudge. Soot and smoke. Clean medicinal iodine air. Calamine. Moss. Touch of clotted cream on scones. Water mutes it, adding sulphur. Wet rock. More smoke and still a medical cream note.

Body: Orange cream touch at front. Fudge. Lots of soot. Moss. Alcohol in a drying fashion. Drying in general. Burnt bark. Moderate thickness mouthfeel until it becomes dry. Water makes sweeter. More orange. Custard notes. Wet rocks.

Finish: Soot. Smoke and ash. Iodine. Drying. Medical cream. Harsh, slightly acrid. Vanilla fudge. Dried beef jerky. Slight dried lime air. Water adds orange cream and more fudge. Less drying character. Beef broth. Sweeter lime to choc lime.

Conclusion: So, back when I tried standard Big Peat I remember recommending having it neat over trying it with water. Water made it lose something. Also I remember that, for something called “Big Peat”, it had only moderate peat in my option. So, how does this one compare?

Well, I can start by saying that water definitely changes this one! Neat this leans very heavily into the medicinal Islay take, with soot and smoke rather than a full peat weight. It is so very drying, so much so that it is slightly too harsh and even slightly acrid.

It actually reminds me of Port Ellen in a few moments, with that calamine, medical cream and medical bandages odd notes amongst the more clean medicinal notes. There are hints of sweetness, but they are very low priority for a whisky that leaves your tongue dessicated and dry at the end of it. It feels like a whisky that could kill a cold with just a dram of the medicinal beast.

Oddly for a vatted malt it doesn’t feel smooth – it has a bit too much in the way of the rougher edges for me, and I don’t say that often. The weighty mouthfeel that it has at the front quickly dries so you don’t get the time needed to really appreciate it.

With water it is a very different dram. It is only slightly medicinal, and a tad more beefy peat and soot character – though still only moderate peat in my opinion. It is sweeter, some creamy fruit and more fudge, making a more balanced but less intense and obviously Islay styled body. It still has a medicinal, dry finish, but is a lot more forgiving in the rest of the dram.

Still not BIG Peat though. I may be a silly level peat head.

Overall – neat it is a tad too dry and astringent for me. Very medicinal. Very dry. Impressive but closed and doesn’t show the sweet contrast it has enough to pull it off. With water it loses the more interesting Islay characteristics but also becomes a more pleasant, if limited, dram.

Decent, but each version of it, with or without water, has flaws that keeps it from being one I would say to go for. It has lots to explore, but never hits its pinnacle of potential. Interesting, but there are better, similar priced islays.

Background: Big Peat! The vatted malt of Islay whiskies from Douglas Laing, this one a Feis Ile festival release limited to 3000 bottles. The A846 referenced a road on Islay, which also they reference with the 8 year old whisky and 46% abv. Very droll. Anyway, grabbed it from Independent Spirit to see how it went. Had different plans for music for this while drinking, but just as I was pouring Farewell Myth’s Made In Mexico came on , and it seemed to fit, so I left that playing.

Gordon and MacPhail: Glen Mhor: 8 Year 100% Proof (Scotland Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 50% ABV)

Visual: Very dark bronzed gold. Fast, medium thickness streaks come from the spirit. Some visible sediment.

Nose: Thick. Strong alcohol aroma. Golden syrup to honey. Stewed apricot. Light menthol. Brown bread. Malt drinks. Nutty. Water makes smoother.

Body: Honey. Warming. Thick. Golden syrup. Ovaltine. Treacle. Fatty notes. Water adds dry sherry. Vanilla. Tannins. Toffee. Cherry notes very occasionally.

Finish: Honey. Brown bread. Malt drinks. Ovaltine. Treacle. Water adds massive dry sherry. Sultanas. More alcoholic air for a while. Tannins. Nutty. Lime touch.

Conclusion: OK, damn, I don’t think I have actually seen whisky with sediment like this in it before. It is part of a whole, well, old look to the thing. Sediment, dusty glass bottle – it has only spent 8 years in the oak, but looks every inch of the years it has spent out of it.

Still despite that it shows its …ahem …youth when you actually get into the whisky itself. Strong alcohol character when taken neat. A thick and syrupy style that pushes sweet but robust notes – emphasising thick flavours like honey, treacle and golden syrup.

I tried this both with and without sediment in the glass – if you keep the sediment in it adds more fatty character, vanilla notes and a thick mouthfeel. I decided not to put these in the main notes, but felt they were still worth pointing out in case people wanted to know if they should try with or without.

As a whisky it is bloody robust, even with water it is thick, clinging and strong. You can, thankfully, tone the alcohol down with water though. However it is still fatty, thick with a malt drink to nutty comparatively neutral backing against a solidly sweet, but dry and not sickly base.

It is a pretty simple whisky – seriously – I think it would be one that is best as part of a blended malt whisky, rather than as the whole thing as a single malt. It doesn’t give enough that I would list it as a must try, especially considering its cost these days. So, yeah this is a young expression, so maybe aged up the distillery gains its legs – however even young its distinctive punch and thick character would be a godsend to many a blended malt.

Ok as is, simple, not worth the cost it goes for these days, but feels like a vital component for a blender.

Background: Ohh, another distillery I have not tried before. For good reason on this one, it is another dead distillery so can get a bit costly. So I was intrigued when I found “Hard To Find Whisky” online and saw they had some minis of comparatively young spirit going for not too silly price. Was a tad wary, as I know old and rare whisky can be a scammers market, but they seemed to have a good reputation online so I gave them a try. Both minis I got where a bit below full fills, which I’m guessing is due to the screw caps not quite sealing it so losing some to evaporation over the years. Also noticed some sediment (as mentioned in the notes), which I did not expect – a quick google suggested this is common for heavily sherried whisky that has spent a long time in the bottle, which reassured me and seemed a reasonable sign that this was not just Bells in an old bottle. I did pour carefully from one glass to another, leaving some spirit with the sediment in the first glass so I could try with and without sediment. Went with Jack Off Jill – Sexless Demons and Scars for music. Still genuinely gutted I missed a chance to see them live when they did a one off reunion tour a few years back.

Hepburn’s Choice: Glenburgie 8 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened spirit.

Nose: Jelly alcohol feel. Toffee. Lime jelly. Sage. Pencil shavings. Peppery. Water brings out a menthol character.

Body: Clean vanilla. Smooth. Fudge. Menthol. Lime sweets. Lightly oily. Earthy herbs. Water adds smooth toffee and nut oils.

Finish: Caramel. Slight oak. Dried herbs. Water adds nut oils. Praline touch. Light salt.

Conclusion: This is gentle and soothing, which is odd as the first impressions I got of this was of a jelly like thick alcohol aroma that made me wonder if we were going to get something rough as fuck. Thankfully as it turns out, we were not.

What we get instead is a mix of gentle vanilla and toffee sweetness with soothing herbal notes. I can’t quite put my finger on the herbal notes to pin down how to describe them – they are savoury, feel slightly earthy, root like, very natural tasting and slightly dried. It feels like something that would be put in a drink to help you get a good nights sleep.

It is reasonably thick, slightly oily and herbal. Gentle flavours but with a robust texture. It doesn’t feel like a must drink dram, but does feel like a nice nightcap whisky. Which is appropriate as I’m having it last thing at night and it is feeling perfect for that moment.

Water drops the alcohol aroma down and really brings out the herbal character – by itself the herbal notes may have ended up a bit much, but thankfully the sweet backing helps everything just slide down.

A very different, easy drinking dram. Not a must have classic but very gentle and welcoming. I hope I find more from the distillery as I think it deserves more investigation.

Background: Another distillery I have yet to try, in nice 20cl format! Not that many Scottish single malt distilleries I haven’t tried now. Unless you include dead distilleries, in which there are loads but generally I can’t afford them. Saw this in the Whisky Shop in Bath, and after a quick check to confirm it was one of the distilleries I had yet to try I snapped it up. I like the 20cl format, small enough that it is fairly cheap to try compared to a full bottle, but with enough spirit that you have a bit of an explore with it compared to a standard miniature. Went with Epic Beard Men – This Was Supposed To Be Fun for background music.

Douglas Laing: Provenance: Caol Ila: 8 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Almost completely clear spirit with just a slight green hue. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Clean medicinal character. Salt. Smoked beef slices and peat. Soft lime. Water adds slight vanilla.

Body: Sweet vanilla toffee. Clean medicinal character. Salt. Cake Sponge. Water adds more cake sponge character.

Finish: Light oak. Soot. Clean. Salt. Peppery. Water adds charring.

Conclusion: This is a very clean Caol Ila – smooth but still medicinal and salty. It seems to get very little flavour from the oak compared to usual. There are some sweet vanilla notes, but generally it just delivers that Islay medicinal character very clearly. Oddly though there is also very little peat evident either – it is clearly there in the aroma, but nigh absent from the slightly dry main body and finish.

It is very enjoyable, a very stripped down Caol Ila with very few bells and whistles. It is the base spirit smoothed out by age but seemingly otherwise just delivered as is. I was wondering if water would bring out more, but it does very little. I slowly added drop after drop until the thing was drowned and it generally just soothed the alcohol and gave a more gentle sponge character. That was it.

So, pretty good for what it is, but a tad too one note to be a classic. It is very good to show what lies at the root of the distillery style. Apart from being stripped down the only real flaw is that it needs a bit more refinement in the finish where it is a tad rough. Not horribly so though,

It does the job but brings no surprises. I enjoyed it as that though.

Background: So, seventh time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! (I’m repeating myself so much that I’m starting to feel like San at the end of a bad run on Undertale …) These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. From a quick google I think this is made 2011, bottled 2019 . I’m a huge fan of Caol Ila, it tends to be a nice mix of Islay character and smoother, sweeter whisky – giving both peat and medicinal notes, while still not being too harsh. Let us see if this one holds up. I put Republic’s live album on while drinking. Bit of retro tunes from one of my early favourite bands.

Douglas Laing: Provenance: Dailuaine: 8 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear, light gold. Fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Honey. Caramel. Floral. Heather. Oak. Whiff of sulphur. Water adds slight lychee.

Body: Warming alcohol. Honey. Vanilla fudge. Oak. Slight custard. Water more fudge. Lychee touch. Cinnamon. Brandy cream.

Finish: Dry oak. Slight sulphur. Soot. Water adds lychee. Fudge. Slight coriander.

Conclusion: This feels gentle and slightly generic. Easy to drink, but just slightly empty. A lot less viscous that last time I encountered a Provenance bottling from this distillery, with less jellied alcohol feel – thought still slight spice, albeit more gentle than before.

Neat it is simple sweet fudge flavour with honey and light floral backing. It is slightly light which is pretty surprising considering this packing an extra 6% abv over the minimum which would usual give a bit more grip. Water doesn’t change that but does add slight extra fruity edges and drying cinnamon sweetness into a coriander savoury touch in the finish.

It is still fairly simple – the contrast is nice, but doesn’t really address the lightness at the heart of the character. It is ok, very gentle, especially with water, and the spice edge does not alter that. It does keep it from becoming too samey moment to moment, but still never really grabs me.

Understated, not bad but doesn’t really earn its place either.

Background: So, fifth time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! (I’m repeating myself so much that I’m starting to feel like San at the end of a bad run on Undertale …) These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. From a quick google I think this is made 2010, bottled 2019, and aged in a sherry butt. I have tried a Provenance Dailuaine before, last time was a 10 year though. Put on Television Villain‘s self titled album while drinking – still a blinder of an album, and I’m not just saying that ‘cos they are mates. Seriously, give it a listen.

Port Askaig: 8 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 45.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow with brackish green tinge. Fast thick streaks. Water makes very cloudy.

Nose: Medicinal. Reek of peat. Peppered beef slices. Peppercorn. Light salt. Water brings out more medicinal notes.

Body: Beef slices. Peat smoke. Overdone steaks. Salt. Slightly tarry. Vanilla. Golden syrup. Some alcohol weight and warmth. Water makes smoother. Adds vanilla fudge. Pears. More medicinal notes. Apricot. Light bread. Lime cordial.

Finish: Drying. Salt. Light vanilla. Tarry. Golden syrup. Apple pies. Water makes medicinal. Adds lime jelly and slight zestiness. Apricot.

Conclusion: This is a big ‘un. Yet water makes it oh so mellow. Ok, I am kind of lying my balls off there. It is not mellow, but there is a whole other subtle set of characteristics under the peat assault that only come out when you add water.

So, first of all let’s take a look at this without water. Whoa! This reeks, utterly reeks of peat. In a good way. It has huge intense smoke and smoked beef, mixed with peat, with medicinal notes in there as well. Without water a vanilla and golden syrup sweetness backs it up over time, but the rest of the intensity does not let up.

Now at this point it is not complex, but it does show the advantage of a younger spirit in keeping the peat intensity up. It is heaven for smoke fanatics, while utterly lacking in subtlety.

Then you add water.

It happens slowly – drop by watery drop. First vanilla fudge comes out, then soft lime notes, then finally sweet apricot creeps out from under the peat nest it is birthed in. What the heck even is this? Apart from delicious I mean.

Now it isn’t quite Lagavulin 16 level must have, but the range it runs with water – going from sheer assault, to still weighty but with a great range of fruit notes – well, that makes this a steal at the 40 quid ish price it goes for.

Both heavy duty Islay, and complex restrained Islay in one whisky. I advise grabbing a bottle and adding water to your preference. Very impressive.

Background: I had Port Askaig for the first time many a year ago at a whisky show. It was very nice, but I never did get around to grabbing a bottle of it for myself since. That mistake has now been rectified. Port Askig is not a distillery, but a bottling of one of the other existing Islay distilleries under the Port Askaig brand. So far quality has been very high. The most common guess of what distillery it is from is Caol Ila and Ardbeg. I have no idea. Anyway, I grabbed this from Independent Spirit and broke it open with some Karnivool to listen to – Sound Awake to be exact. Saw them as a warm up band once, and enjoyed them enough to grab the CD there and then. Pretty soothing music for background noise.

Douglas Laing: Provenance Single Cask: Glengoyne 8 Year( Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very pale clear spirit with a light brackish hue to it.

Viscosity: Medium speed thin streaks.

Nose: Moss. Moderate alcohol. Citrus – fresh lime. Very fresh. Mojitos. Crushed leaves. Light menthol. Gin. Water adds vanilla pods.

Body: Warming. Smooth feel despite the alcohol. Very viscous. Soft toffee. Water makes creamier. Kiwi, grapes and vanilla. Apples. Jelly. Raisins.

Finish: Light charring. Malt drinks. Lots of oak. Greenery. Alcohol air. Water makes creamier. Brown bread. Fudge. More water adds raisins.

Conclusion: This really shows the energy of its relative youth. While not burning in its alcohol, it is still that very viscous styling of strong alcohol with a very melting jelly like feel to the centre and very familiar alcohol warmth with it.

Flavour wise it is also very youthful – lots of full on green fruit akin to a young spirit. Neat it is fairly raw, but water soothes that, turning it into a sweeter, creamier version of itself; In this form it seems to call slightly to Speyside character rather than its Highland home However underneath that is the more familiar sweet highland in a fudge and malt drink styled base. It is more gentle that normal, more a backing note than its more mature cousins.

In oddities that it has, there is a slight crushed leaves amongst the citrus notes – which makes if feel slightly mojitos like in its expression top and tail. Which is unexpected. A cocktail experience in a single malt.

It is a raw green fruit thing neat, becoming more recognisably highland sweet the more water you add. While I would say it is too simple neat, water gives an impressive depth for its youth with raisins and dark fruit coming out as a balance to the brighter green fruit. It is a very different experience from neat to water laden, going from super fresh to subtly dried fruit.

Not excellent, but has a decent range with water so I can’t complain.

Background: Hip flask sized bottles of whisky, one of my favourite ways of trying a wider range of whisky without having to spend a fortune on full sized bottles. This one, grabbed from Independent Spirit, is a Glengoyne bottling – done without colouring or chill filtering. I’ve actually been to the Glengoyne distillery, back when I did a tour of distilleries in Scotland – very pretty and tucked away near a waterfall. This was drunk while listening to Anthrax – Amongst The Living – no particular reason, just good tunes.

Lagavulin 8 Year

Lagavulin 8 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 48% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain with a soft green brackishness.

Viscosity: Very slow, thin to medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Salty sea spray. Strong alcohol. Wet moss. Medicinal air. Water adds salted lemon.

Body: Medicinal. Salt. Strong alcohol. Traditional lemonade. Salty pebbles. Soft yet salted lemon. Water adds a slight golden syrup and more pebbles. More water adds mini marshmallows. Light strawberry and dark chocolate hints. Salted orange.

Finish: Dry. Medicinal spirit. Salted lemon. Dry charred beef bits. More lemon with water. Slight marshmallows. More water adds light malt drinks.

Conclusion: This reminds me in a way of Laphroaig select. A whisky I have not yet done tasting notes on here. So that is a helpful comparison. Let me explain then. They both have less of the distinct brute force that their older cousins have. They both are just slightly dry, but also that lighter character lets additional sweetness through.

For comparisons sake it is helpful that we nicknamed Laphroaig Select “Laphroaig Lemonade” after a whisky show attendant commented that it would be like lemonade for standard Laphroaig fans. Why is that appropriate? Because this younger interpretation, of the Lagavulin spirit has a very salted lemon characteristic to it that makes me think of traditional lemonade.

Do not fear, there is still a heap of Islay character – lots of salt, medicinal notes and wet pebbles and wet moss. Oddly it is missing a few of what I think of as defining Lagavulin characteristics. It lacks any of that thick, meaty character, and also goes very light on the peat smoke, to my surprise. It results in a much less chewy and more drying style to it.

What it gains is, when water is added, a lot of the notes which I presume are normally hidden behind the heavy Lagavulin character. There is subtle salted orange and even strawberry notes – and the extra strength of the whisky means there is a lot of room to explore with water for extra depths.

Don’t expect something too close to the standard Lagavulin 16 year and I think you will probably enjoy this one. It is very much its own thing – distinctly Islay, but not beholden to its older cousin. Initially I was disappointed by this because of my expectations, but I soon grew to enjoy it on its own charms, rather than what I expected it to be like. A very solid, fruity, lemony, Islay whisky.

Background: This one has been a long time coming, much to the annoyance of my mate Tony who had repeatedly asked me when I will pull my thumb out and actually break this one open. Well, today is the day! This is a special limited release to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Lagavulin, and as a huge Lagavulin fan I had to make sure I grabbed a bottle. So I did. From independent spirit. Again.

Heatherlea Birdwatching: Wee Crestie (Scottish Blended Whisky: 8 Years: 40% ABV)

Visual: Darkened grain to gold.

Viscosity: Slow initial puckering then innumerable streaks forms quickly.

Nose: Vanilla. Some grain alcohol. Floral. Youthful fire. Waters adds musty grapes.

Body:  Very thin up front. Custard. Dried apricot. Peaches. Apple crumble. Even thinner if you add water and far less pleasant.

Finish: Liquorice. Toffee. Chocolate sweets with strawberry cream centres. Still that alcohol fire. Much more chocolaty with water.

Conclusion: Tourist independent bottling can be, eclectic, to say the least. They don’t have a particularly great reputation let’s just say.  Blended tourist independent whisky, even worse so.  It was thus with slight trepidation I approached this whisky.

An inoffensive aroma and thin front to the body didn’t really help the first impressions. Held on the tongue for a while tempted dessert flavours forth into a surprisingly sweet finish.  The quota of the blend is still obvious, but you feel that the base malt whisky was something, that if it had not been hammered into submission by grain, would have been quite pleasant.

It’s not a whisky I can recommend. It just can’t push enough flavour forth. It does however bode well for the base malt used for it, whichever malt it was.  The malt does have just enough presence to push forth the whiskies best aspect. The finish.

The finish is actually quite good. Yes I know, I sound shocked there. Solid chocolate and strawberry cream that lingers well.  This and all other aspects however are killed by the addition of water, it doesn’t even remove the grain fire as it does so.

This is not a good whisky, and the hint of what it could have been makes its lacklustre elements oh so much worse.

Background: Sometimes it’s useful having twitchers in the family. In this case because they brought back two miniatures of whisky for me to try, which were made to raise money for some bird watching thingy.  Drunk in a quite preposterous glass due to having nothing more suitable available. The glass actually worked a lot better than it had any right to.   So far I have not had much luck with tourist spot blended whisky, with one in particular picked up on our Scotland tour being one of the worst I have ever drank. Blended whisky is oft the poorer cousin of single malt, but there are excellent whiskies available under its banner so I try to remember not to write it off completely.  Thanks to mum and dad for the kind gift of this whisky.

Zuidam: Millstone 8 Year American Oak (Dutch Single Malt Whisky: 8 Years: 43% ABV)

Visual: A dark toffee gold. Very dark for its youthful age.

Viscosity: Very fast thick streaks.

Nose: Light toffee and oak. Cheese. Water lightens to planed wood and a touch of peanuts.  Some oddities at the edges like gelatin and a tar touch.

Body: Initially very smooth with sweet syrup, it quickly takes a big hit from charring and oak influence.  Touch of caramel. Water smoothes the charring out, leaving still evident oak and barley, but lets toffee run wild. Some Shredded Wheat touches maybe.

Finish: light charring and milk chocolate, or maybe bourbon biscuits.   Smoke and charring grows over time. Becomes mouth filling fresh with water. The oak remains however and some slight nuts.

Conclusion: Whew, this favours the oak just slightly. Reminds me a lot of bourbon in the way.  From the name and flavour I am wondering if virgin oak was used for this, at least in part.  It has that massive influence which either screams fresh oak of massive years, and I’m damn sure this doesn’t have massive years.

It feels touch rough and ready, all oak and smoke. However considering its youth it does have a smooth texture at the front, it’s near the back where the charring kicks in.  Besides that it has a nice play of sweetness, mainly caramel and toffee. It really is half whisky half bourbon and really shows a nice bit of innovation to the style.

Now I wouldn’t put it down as a favourite. It is kind of raw, though that is offset by water which makes it much more toffee sweet with each drop.  With a chunk of water id does gain a toffee pavlova kind of feel.

So nice, not showy, but experimental and interesting to try.  From vague memory I would describe this as a toffee influenced Makers Mark with not quite the grace, but it’s been a while since I had that so I may be a tad off.

Background: Drunk at “The Star Inn”, a small pub but very friendly and with a great whisky selection.  The bartender mentioned that this was a Dutch single malt and as sucker for something new, I had to try.  The bottle says American oak, and their website says that as well as Bourbon casks they do use virgin oak casks and I have a feeling they were used for at least part of this whisky.  This is my first sampling of Dutch whisky. The night in general was entertaining with my tasting noting bringing a lot of conversation from a few other drinkers.  There were other amusing oddities which will be the subject of a future post. Due to the chatting this had plenty of time to air and the aroma was very evident by the time the tasting started.

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