A tasting in a big empty room – part 1: Douglas Laing

On the bright side of our St Andrews whisky tasting debacle, we did get to sample some very fine drams. Here’s what we made of the Douglas Laing & Co Ltd selection on Thursday night:

Auchentoshan 10 year-old (Provenance bottling)
A good way to start the evening, and a great way to open up the palate. This is a light Lowland malt from the only distillery to practice true triple distillation.

Nose: Sweet, citrus, light esters, honey.
Palate: Fresh, smooth, slightly drying, sherbert, more honey.
Finish: Floral, sharp citrus, lemon rind.

Royal Brackla 12 year-old (Provenance bottling)
A real hit. We liked this a lot. Surprisingly peaty, as the only other Brackla we’d ever had reminded us more of light toffee and white wine.

Nose: Dry and astringent – some sweetness with a little fresh soap.
Palate: Surprisingly leafy, peppery with a touch of cocoa and malt coming through.
Finish: Longer than we would have expected with oak and a medium amount of smoke.

Strathmill 16 year-old (Old Malt Cask)
A bit of a rarity. Normally a very “green” malt, so we were interested to see what a 16 year-old from Strathmill would present.

Nose: Apples, light spice, estery grass, woody notes.
Palate: Sweet, grassy again, a hint of balsamic, oak, vanilla and spice.
Finish: Soft, yet drying

Caol Ila 15 year-old (Old Malt Cask)
This was a sure-fire winner with us, as we’re a fan of the Islay malts in general. This was one of 258 bottles.

Nose: Smoke, floral, lemons.
Palate: Shortbread, buttered toast, a little woodsmoke.
Finish: Medium to long, chorizo and paprika.

Laphroaig 8 year-old
Young for a Laphroaig and we were expecting quite a rough and brash malt. We were not disappointed.

Nose: Pepper, smoke, smoked fish, salt.
Palate: Brine, more smoke.
Finish: Huge burst of peat.

Big Peat
Does what it says on the tin. We’ve had this before and were glad to encounter it again. A blend featuring malts from Port Ellen, Ardbeg, Caol Ila and Bowmore.

Nose: Big and peaty.
Palate: Seashore, smoke.
Finish: Huge. This one goes down kicking.

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