Tag Archive: Douglas Laing


Douglas Lain: The Epicurean – Cognac Cask Finish (Scottish Lowland Blended Malt: 48% ABV)

Visual: Pale, slightly greened gold, with fast, thick streaks coming from the body.

Nose: Honey. Pencil shavings. Vanilla. Stewed apricots. Cognac. Warming. Green grapes. Nasal hair tingling alcohol. Apple. Water adds slight oak. Makes cleaner and lighter. Adds more grapes and apple.

Body: Slick feel but warming. Honey. Custard. Slightly syrupy. Green grapes. Marmalade. Apple pie filling. Vanilla toffee. Light moss. Peach. Water adds more apple. Some pear. Brown sugar and cake sponge.

Finish: Marmalade. Cognac. Apple pie filling. Shaved wood. Quite dry. Gin air. Water adds pear. More evident lowland character. Brown sugar. Teabags and tannins.

Conclusion: This one took a good long while for it to air properly and open up. My first dram poured from this a few weeks back was very cognac dominated, very alcohol touched and the whisky was pretty much lost beneath the finishing wood. You basically got whisky feeling cognac but not much else. Fun, and a laugh to try, but not one I could overly recommend.

Things have changed since then.

Even drunk neat this is smoother than before- the lowland cleanness giving a lighter take to the thickness that the cognac gives. Together they become a smooth but surprisingly weighty dram for a lowland whisky.

It really shows its flavour range as well now. There is very definite cognac, especially those marmalade like sweet notes, and it mixes with the whisky base to show apricot and peach bright notes. However the base lowland style is now easier to notice. It show slightly mossy, clean and green fruit notes and makes it much more easy going that the sweet cognac backing.

Water brings out a lot more of the lowland character. It is still coming out with big, big sweetness, but now the whisky character actually is, just about, in the forefront. There is much more green fruit – especially apples. It is slightly sulphur touched, and kind of tannins touched in a way that doesn’t suit the sweetness in the finish, and that is probably the only weak point of the whisky. Not automatically bad elements but they don’t match, and the finish is a bit of let down with that. Here is where it is a tad more alcohol touched and rough.

Still, a very fun whisky and generally well developed. Probably best neat, or with just a drop of water to open it up. Let’s face it, if you bought this the concept of a cognac whisky is what you wanted, and taken neat or near neat that is what you get, just a bit smoother and more complex than that sounds and far more than the early days of opening.

Open it up, give it some time, and this will reward you in the end. A weak finish, but great cognac meets whisky front and middle.

Background: Another blended malt (or vatted malt as I prefer the term) – a mix of single malts from different distilleries with no grain whisky. In this case all lowland whiskies, which tend to be triple distilled – a common technique in Ireland but uncommon in Scotland. It tends to give a lighter, more easy drinking feel. This is quite an unusual variant on the Epicurean, having been finished in Cognac casks. I mainly grabbed it for that as I was intrigued on what that finish would do. This is one of only 402 bottles and was grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went back to At The Drive in: Relationship Of Command to listen to while drinking. Again I think I really should buy at least one more of their albums…

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.

Douglas Laing: Provenance: Ardmore 10 Year (Scottish Highland Whisky: 10 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual:Very pale gold. Thick, fast streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Salt. Peaty moss. Black pepper. Clean alcohol tingle. Light sulphur. Brown bread. Water adds a make spirit touch.

Body: Vanilla fudge. Salt. Peat. Slight golden syrup. Brown bread. Water adds sweet honey, oily peat and caramel.

Finish: Beef slices. Moss. Smoke. Salt touch. Water adds oily peat. Pepper.

Conclusion: Now this seems surprisingly full on for an Ardmore. It’s a spirit I’m more used to associating with a mix of heavy sweet Highland character and well used moderate peat character.

Neat this has a clean alcohol and salt style that calls more to a sort of Islay or Island character than usual for the spirit. It isn’t a heavy part of the whisky, but at this point the spirit really isn’t showing the sweeter notes of an Ardmore so it comes through a lot more than you would expect.

Water brings out the sweeter honey and caramel notes –but it still has the slightly more rocky, salty notes haunting it in an after image. A nice mix, if not what I was expecting. The whisky doesn’t react much to the water beyond that. It is a decent match of styles but doesn’t pull a lot from the sweeter Highland style to make it stand out. While I can appreciate the more Island/Islay style character, as a smooth but medicinal whisky it can’t compare with, say, a good Caol Ila.

A decent, Island touched, sweet dram, but not a stand out one.

Background: So, final time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! Though it does mean I no longer have an excuse to make that Undertale reference. I am sad. 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 this looks to be the 2008 distilled, 2018 bottled edition, which would make it aged in a refill hogshead cask. This was drunk shortly after the previous notes, so I was still listening to Byzantine.

Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Port Dundas 14 Year (Scottish Single Grain Whisky: 14 Year: 48.4% abv)

Visual: Deep gold. Middling speed thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Thick honey. Honey nut cornflakes. Slight alcohol tingle. Grapes. Caramel. Vanilla. Water adds light sulphur and apples.

Body: Honey. Apricot. Oak. Smooth orange juice hints. Grapes. Slight alcohol harshness. Water makes smooth, with more honey and slight apple. Custard sweetness.

Finish: Caramel. Honey. Oak. Alcohol air. Water adds apples and more honey.

Conclusion: Wow, this is a honey sweet, syrupy, caramel laden whisky. I don’t think I have ever encountered a whisky as flat out sweet as this before.

It has a touch of rough alcohol neat, but a few drops of water quickly sorts that out. Then, had with those few drops of water, you have massively sweet, syrupy tasting whisky delivered smoothly with a few green fruit notes around the edges.

It’s fairly simple, but impressively powerful in the sweet flavours. I will have to admit that I have yet to get a grip on what exactly is the Port Dundas house style – every expression I’ve had has been so very different, possible the house style is that it takes so much from the oak and that is why, but any which way, I can definitely see the appeal of this one. It is very well set to be an easy sipping whisky, with water at least – the only bit against that is that it gets a tad overly oaken in the finish, but generally it is good.

So, a sweet burst of a whisky – if that is your thing then definitely check it out.

Background: So, eighth 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 distilled 2004, bottled 2014 and was aged in a Pedro Ximénez cask, which would explain a lot of the unusual notes I got. Went with some unusual heavy tunes for this, a CD a mate gifted to me years ago – Byzantine – The Fundamental Component – I have no idea what the lyrics are saying, but it is heavy as fuck.

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: Old Particular: Mortlach: 12 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 48.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened spirit with fast, thick streaks coming from it.

Nose: Oily peat. Nutty chocolate. Praline. Smooth vanilla toffee. Salt touch. Water makes peppery. Dry oak.

Body: Tangy alcohol. Tangy orange. Bready. Salt. Slightly oily. Dry oak. Water adds dry soot. Vanilla. Pepper. Pears. Oily coffee.

Finish: Soot. Sugared orange. Oak. Charring. Drying alcohol air. Water makes peppery and brings out oily coffee.

Conclusion: Mortlach is always an odd one. Well, I say always. I’ve tried it like, maybe three times before this. So, basically I say that as I am pretending to be more knowledgeable about the distilleries output than I actually am. Hopefully no one will see through this sham.

Initially oily and somewhat peaty the whisky shows decent weight and throws in a touch of what would normally be Island region salty character. Below that though is thicker oily nuts and chocolate against sweet sugared orange. It is one of those that defies easy classification under the whisky regions with Highland Weight, some Islay peat and plenty of fresh Speyside sweetness. Instead what defines it is that oiliness that takes everything else and makes it its own thing entirely.

Taken neat this is just weighty enough, has just enough Island sea feel, and just sweet enough for me. Ok, it is a bit alcohol touched and a bit rough edged, but it is very distinctive and makes for an interesting dram.

Water reduces the alcohol feel, but apart from that it doesn’t really help. It makes the whisky drier and more peppery, more astringent and loses a lot of the core oily weight. It is most notable in how the oily peat instead comes across as dry soot.

So, keep this one as one to enjoy neat. Take the rougher edges it has on the chin and enjoy. It is the unusual, oily dram that mixes in a bit from each whisky region to give a complex, rich experience. Not the best Mortlach I have had – the 16 year is still the standout for me, and that is considering I haven’t tried any particularly old or unusual expressions from the distillery – but it does enough that id say give it a go if you want to drip your toes into the Mortlach style.

Background: So, sixth 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. A quick google suggests this may be the 2006 distilled, 2018 bottled version. I could be wrong though. I’ve not had a huge amount of Mortlach but have always been intrigued by its strange style. Went with Jack Off Jill, Sexless Demons and Scars for music with this one. Such a great mix of anger and singing talent.

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.

Douglas Laing: Longmorn: Old Particular: 15 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 15 Year: 48.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened clear spirit. Very thin puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Clean. Sage. Alcohol tingle. Water adds cereal grains, strawberry and honey.

Body: Vibrant alcohol. Lime. Vanilla toffee. Water adds strawberry crème. Alcohol jelly. Honey. More water adds sweet apricot.

Finish: Slightly meaty. Touch of smoke. Lime. Alcohol jelly. Water adds strawberry crème. Honey. More water adds cake sponge and lychee.

Conclusion: Ok, neat this one really lost me. It has a lot of alcohol character, not harsh but very present. It results in a whisky that is kind of closed, with just very basic lime and vanilla notes that are obvious, with hints of something else around that which are hard to pin down. So I gave it some time, took a few more sips, but I just couldn’t get a feel for anything deeper from it.

Water, well water starts breaking through the shell around this whisky and changes it completely. It is very sweet, almost sickly levels of honey comes out along with gentle strawberry crème. It is still not complex, and still alcohol touched but now radically different from both itself neat and most other whiskies I have encountered.

More water lightens the sweetness, losing some of the interesting and unique notes, but it does balance things out a bit better in response.

So, in my experience this varied between closed with too much alcohol, and stupidly sweet. The thing is, there are such unusual elements here, and it is a fair chunk stronger than the base 40% abv, that I figure it is likely there is something worthwhile hidden in there, it just needs more experimentation to find the perfect water level to unlock that.

From my experience then I cannot recommend it. However I can acknowledge that there may be more to be found that my quick dalliance with it may have revealed.

Make of that what you will.

Background: So, fourth time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! 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. Only had a few encounters with Longmorn before and I don’t feel I quite have a handle on what to expect from this distillery yet so thought this would be an interesting one. Googled for more info on this bottling and can’t find anyone selling this particular expression yet at time of writing, so may not have hit the shelves yet. If anyone knows more please let me know. Went with The Kominas – Wild Nights In Guantánamo Bay for music while drinking. One of those albums I still love but wish the world would change so it wasn’t still so bloody relevant.


Douglas Laing: Bunnahabhain: Provenance: 10 Year (2019 Release) (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened gold. Slow thick puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Lightly oily, in a fish skin way. Salt. Sea breeze. Lime. Seaweed. Sweet syrup. Light menthol mint. Slight pepper. After Eight mint centres. Water adds more salt and wet rocks.

Body: Alcohol warmth but smooth. Honey. Pear drops. Dried beef slices. Vanilla toffee. Water makes smoother, more salt. Moss and honeycomb.

Finish: Honey. Dried beef. Soft sweet lime. Toffee. Water adds honeycomb.

Conclusion: This is significantly different to my last experience with Provenance Bunnahabhain, so I am glad I decided to do notes on it. This one is gently sweet, with the Islay salt and sea breeze character wafting over it.

There is an oily character that is appealing, giving a nice thickness, though neat the alcohol, that also gives weight to it, comes in a tad over warming. Water soothes it out easily though – and it can take quite a bit of water and still work, thought I will admit I feel it works best with just a few drops to take off the heat.

It balances sweet toffee with gentle Islay character. It doesn’t feel full Islay, as is Bunnahabhain’s want it is just slightly salty sea breeze touched, but that is enough here. It remains mostly on the sweet side, and has no harsh edges coming through.

The gentle Islay gets some nice rounding here with lime sweetness and definite honey – all in all a very nice, relaxing, but definitely Islay present drop of a dram.

Background: So, third time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! 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. It doesn’t list on the bottle but I think this is the bottled November 2018 edition. I nearly didn’t do notes on this, as I have done notes on the Douglas Laing Bunnahabhain Provenance 10 Year. Then I remembered these are single cask releases, so good odds it will be significantly different to previous notes. So here we are. Bunnahabhain is the (generally) unpeated side of Islay distilleries, which is odd as I keep getting smoke notes from them in the past. Probably psychosomatic, as I expect smoke when I encounter Islay notes. Anyway… went with Ozzy Osbourne – Memoirs Of a Madman while drinking. Still prefer Black Sabbath in general, but there are some cracking stand-alone tunes.

Douglas Laing: Cambus Old Particular 25 Year (Scottish Single Grain Whisky: 25 Year: 51.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened gold with fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Strong alcohol. Thick aroma. Lighter fluid touch. Apples. Praline hint. Nutty. Vanilla. Oak. Water adds jelly babies, slight sulphur and eggs.

Body: Soft. Vanilla. Creamy. Oily alcohol evident but not harsh. Apricot. Dry oak. Water makes smooth. Hot cross buns and butter. Jelly babies.

Finish: Oily alcohol. Pear drops. Vanilla. Oaken. Dry. Water adds hot cross buns. Slight raisins. Slight dry spice. Soft bitter red wine.

Conclusion: Ok, this one is packed with some viscous, oily alcohol. Be prepared and warned. I was worried from the waft of alcohol that came out on first pour that this was going to be pure lighter fluid.

So, yeah a tad nervous as I went onto the first sip and … it is comparatively restrained actually. There is still a thick watered down jelly like alcohol feel, but there is no burn with it. The flavours are similarly gentle, with soft vanilla and creamy notes against subtle fruity backing.

It still definitely benefits from water though – the thick alcohol is smoothed out and given a bready, hot cross bun like feel and taste which helps it stand out from the ok, but fairly generic flavours it had before.

Similarly water brings out what I would guess at sherry ageing, though the light colour of the whisky makes me unsure on calling that one. 25 years in a sherry butt would give more colour I would guess, unless it was third fill? I dunno. Anyway, it brings out subtle red wine and spice notes in an understated sweet way that makes me thing of a more gentle take on some young Glenfarclas.

Despite that it doesn’t really stand out as a must have. It has got a nice weight to it, a surprising lack of alcohol burn, but feels like basic notes done well rather than a stand out wonder.

Ok, but I’d expect more from a 25 year whisky.

Background: So, second time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! 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. Cambus is a lowland single grain distillery which I have never tried anything from before, so this should be interesting. Decided to go for some heavy contemplation music, so went for the experimental masterpiece from Godspeed you! Black Emperor! That is Don’t Bend Ascend. Such haunting, background yet weighty music for serious whisky tasting.

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