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.

St Andrews: a whisky fiasco

It was the 150th anniversary of the Golf Open at St Andrews. We came, we saw, and we were utterly conquered.

We may well go down in history as the hosts of the best, most well-organised, well-promoted, best-stocked and WORST-attended whisky tastings of all time.

And we have some very fine and expensive whisky left over to give to you, if you can explain to us what went wrong. We may know our drams (at least, to a respectable standard) and we may be a well-oiled machine when it comes to making sure that the venue, the food, the glassware and the accessories are all in place – but it turns out that events promotion may not be our strong suit, and we want your help.

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Whisky tasting at St Andrews

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be doing a couple of tasting events in St Andrews during the golf open this week. Two nights of the very best of Scottish culture, taking in the history and folklore surrounding some of Scotland’s finest drams.

Thursday 15th July:
This evening presents a wide selection of stunning malts from throughout the Douglas Laing & Co. Ltd range, including Provenance and Old Malt Cask bottlings. Rare, unusual and fascinating.

– Auchentoshan 10 year-old
– Royal Brackla 12 year-old
– Strathmill 16 year-old
– Caol Ila 15 year-old
– Laphroaig 8 year-old
– Big Peat

Tickets are £39 and you can book for this tasting here.

Friday 16th July:
This evening showcases some of the most beautiful, expertly crafted whiskies available today. Some boutique and rare bottlings, unlikely to be seen again – and the king of blends to crown the night.

– The Dalmore 18 year-old
– The Dalmore Mackenzie
– Jura Xu 1999
– Jura Jo 1995
– Jura Ji 1993
– Whyte & Mackay 30 year-old blend

Again, tickets are £39 and you can book for this tasting here.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Penderyn on St David’s Day

Penderyn - Welsh single malt whisky
Single malt from Wales

Partly to celebrate St David’s Day today – but mostly because it was long overdue, Clutch and I decided to try the samples of Penderyn that the Welsh Whisky company had kindly sent us.

Custard, vanilla, tangerine, honey-roasted peanuts, tiny touch of smoke.

Flumps. Seriously: Flumps. Also, condensed milk, cream toffee… Penderyn is a dessert whisky.

Very smooth, rounded, unassuming, a little astringent.

Quite quaffable, very enjoyable. A lovely dram that would welcome newcomers to the world of malts… and a lovely way to finish off St David’s Day.

Finland: Winter Warmth And Whisky

Nauvo in the Turku archipelago

Nauvo in the Turku archipelago

I’m across in Finland at the moment for a project based on The Kalevala. Luckily for me, I have a good friend, Tomas, who’s kindly putting me up during my stay, thus reducing the not-insubstantial cost of living whilst over here. He’s also responsible for some of the best photography I’ve seen, and having offered to document my trip, I thought it only fair that I bring some whisky over with me. Several bottles in fact.

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