Well, happy birthday big man! Here we look at this month’s brand new, special release, 10 year old age-stated bottling of Big Peat, looking to celebrate 10 whole years since Big Peat first arrived on the scene as the forerunner to the Douglas Laing & Co series of Remarkable Regional Malts. As per his brethren before him, this release of Big Peat is non-chill filtered, has no colouring, and is presented at 46% ABV. The limited release is capped at 1,100 bottles in total (available around £65 GBP). Little is said about the constituents of the malt components themselves, but rest be assured that it will feature Islay only whiskies, the youngest components of which will be 10 years old!
Well, its a soft start. It has got a sugary sweet and light peated aroma to it, at first. It packs a kind of tingle and sweetness that you would expect from Swizzels sweets in the UK, like parma violets or those densely packed sugar double lollies. It is a floral peat that takes the front seat though.
Oh, it really is sweet and smoky. Like maple cured bacon straight off the grill. In fact its got bit of a slightly juicy kind of flavour that’s more like a smoked ham. It really is a honey-like sweetness too. With the texture it is almost a little creamy, a little vanilla-ry. Maybe even milk chocolatey? (I never thought I’d be getting those kind of flavours in a peated whisky!)
It almost seems to be more smoky on the finish and after its gone than when its on the nose or on the tongue. The flavours shimmer away fairly quickly and leave a sweet lip smacking sensation behind.
When we sampled the regular Big Peat, we noted (unusually for us) the colour of the liquid. Well, we have to mention it again here, because if the reg regular BP is very light, then this is very, very light. The image of Big Peat just doesn’t seem to fit this. It does feel like a child version of Big Peat. Little Peat, if you will. With big boots to fill. Not that we encourage underage drinking. On its own, it is still a demonstration in good peated whisky, but with that name it feels like it has got room to grow – though the thought of a 10 year old boy with Big Peat’s trademark sweater, some oversized boots and beard does give me a chuckle. That’s not to belittle this whisky either. Don’t get me wrong, it still smells a little like someone is laying new tarmac in the distance. Its a very good peated malt. Well tempered and very more-ish – which is something that I don’t always find with peated whiskies. Maybe even an ideal ‘starter’ for a Big Peat(ed) journey. And speaking of journeys: cheers to the next 10 years!
How does the new 10 Year Old release compare to the regular Big Peat bottling (“the Reg”) you ask? Well, here’s how…
Both whiskies are putting out good variations on the peat theme. The Reg is all about peat. As in: peat means peat. It demonstrates all the different elements of a peated whisky (leafy, heathery, smoky, briny, iodine-y). The 10 is more about the floral notes, than the Reg’s more vegetal offering. The Reg provides a quite a thicker, fuller smoky experience than the 10, bit both are offering balance and sweetness. Both offer a smoked meat flavour whereas the 10 offers more of a smoked sweets experience (if there is such a thing).
The Reg is known for its soft texture and sweet, but the 10 is even more like a dessert by comparison. Whereas the Reg is a caramel-like sweetness, the 10 is a more saccharine and sugar cane experience (i.e. before it is cooked into caramel). The Reg feels more rounded by comparison, but the 10 delivers a more pointed vanilla/sugar delivery. Maybe a little nuttier too.
The Reg flavours dissipate and fade out quite nicely, whereas the 10’s flavours really do disappear quickly – they’re quite like rubbing alcohol in that sense. It gets its job done, it was good and its out of there.
Sample disclosure: Both samples were received in anticipation of the 10 year celebration of Big Peat’s release, directly from Douglas Laing. Though received as part of a promotional event, the notes here are intended to be an honest, fair and independent review of the whisky.