Posts Tagged With: Douglas Laing

Tasting Notes: Invergordon 21 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

Invergordon 21yo (Douglas Laing – Old Particular)

Douglas Laing & Co (not to be confused with Hunter Laing) have a history steeped in whisky, having been independently bottling whiskies since 1948. With their history and enviable stock of old and rare casks, the Old Particular series of whiskies displays their premium collection of hand-selected casks – only exceeded by their Xtra Old Particular series (aka “XOP”). This single grain scotch whisky features in the Old Particular range of limited releases (only 204 bottles available from that single cask). This whisky has been selected from the Invergordon distillery and showcases a 21 year old single grain that has been matured in bourbon refill casks, delivered up at a punchy 52.8%

Nose

M: Vanilla hits the nose straight away. Toffee sweetness. Toasty cereals. A little cigar smoke at the back and a decent boozy burn.

 

Taste

M: The vanilla flavour from the nose just increases and intensifies. The cereal notes in there kinda remind me of baking. Put the two together: Belgian waffles!!

 

Finish

M: The booze only really appears on the finish and it intensifies and tingles on the way down. It’s a pretty long finish and that vanilla flavour just lingers throughout.

 

Verdict

M: For something with such a high ABV, the booze only really shows up at the end and let’s the vanilla from the barrel do a lot of the talking upfront. A little toasty flavour that, along with the vanilla, reminds me of Belgian waffles and that flavour comes back well after having finished the dram and the boozy burn having eventually subsided. This was a Dram Team miniature and their tasting notes also referenced waffles as well as creme brûlée, which I totally get now, after the event – and that’s one of my favourite puddings! The flavours here are definitely all about the desserts, and it’s age and booze content give it a decent body – though if this was a blind tasting, I’d have never guessed that it was 21 years old. The 50+ percentage left a bit of a sting on the way down and a lower percentage might have made for one of the smoothest drams ever.

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Tasting Notes: Fettercairn 20yo (Old Particular) Douglas Laing

Fettercairn 20yo (Old Particular)

This (old) particular whisky was originally created at the Fettercairn diatillery in the Highlands and has been especially bottled by the Douglas Laing Company within their “Old Particular” brand. The whisky has been maturing for two decades and, as previously noted (here), is a welcome sight to see given the scarcity of the distillery’s own single malt expressions, particularly ones with age statements. Whilst we do not usually discuss the colour, it is worth noting that this whisky is so light in colour that it seems almost translucent. With that in mind, here are the tasting notes on this devious dram…

51.5% ABV

Nose

M: Ooh it’s punchy. Really strong in fact. Letting it breathe does little to tame it. Despite its clarity, there’s definite barrel influence in this nose if nothing else. You can basically smell the staves.


Taste

M: Fresh, white grapes. Bloody punchy. Needs some taming. Vanilla and oak at the forefront once some water has been added.


Finish

M: There’s that deep burn. A little toasty on that long finish. Pretty sweet / vanilla custard-like once the burn has worn off.


Verdict

M: Very light in colour and body. It looks like the pre-whisky spirits I’ve seen extracted from barrels before they’ve even hit the 3 year mark to be called ‘whisky’. The booze content makes for a strong, strong whisky, but what the whisky lacks in colour it makes up in the complexity of the delicate flavours that do come thorugh. which you’d hope after 20 years in a barrel. The oak itself is the most dominant feature though and that the grape-like fruitiness meant that, for me. this was just like a light white wine with its booze strength cranked up to 11. Or 51.5, to be more precise. Not a leisurely whisky, but not unpleasant either. Nice flavours in there once you’ve fought off the high booze content.

Fettercairn Indie Face-Off


Side note: This short was enjoyed courtesy of the Dram Team monthly subscription. As part of their package, you receive the team’s own tasting notes on their themed selection and I prefer to hold out and only read the notes afterwards so that I remain untainted by their opinions. It is then interesting to see the crossover (if any). On this occasion, my vanilla pudding matches their creme brûlée note, but I’ve written that any fruits are delicate along the line of white wine grapes whereas the Dram Team writers have opted for “zesty citrus fruits”. It is this variety that makes whisky tasting such a great experience, as each taster will always be correct when it comes to their own opinions and notes. Tasting notes on the younger expression here.

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A Chance Evening With Douglas Laing

On 10th December, whilst rushing through the city of Chester to get some last minute inspiration for Christmas presents, I stumbled into a fine establishment on Watergate Street called Corks Out. It was not the first time that I’d been to this place, but it was the first time that I’d been able to explore the shop thoroughly (for present ideas for someone else of course…), and it turned out to be a great chance encounter. Whilst closely examining their whisky stock, I overheard some chatter from the bar area about an upcoming tasting. Having quizzed the shop assistant, I discovered that it was in fact preparations for a free whisky tasting that evening! Flash forward several hours and I found myself back in the shop with a tactical bellyful of grub.

 

The rep, Ellie from Cellar Trends, was acting on behalf of Douglas Laing for the evening and she had brought the four whiskies that comprise the Douglas Laing Remarkable Regional Malts range, along with an Asbach brandy and the Canadian ice wine, Neige. Ellie certainly knew her stuff and happily told me all about the Douglas Laing family business as independent bottlers, and whilst I was aware of Big Peat and the business’ limited single cask bottlings, I was not aware of these other blended offerings, so I was all ears.

 

Before even cracking into the drams available, it was clear to see that the marketing and packaging of these whiskies were strong. Again, I was aware of Big Peat and the marketing behind it, but the other 3 in the range had a distinctive look about them, and almost looked as if they’d fit on a Victorian medicine cabinet. I was told that the design work is put together by Cara Laing, daughter of current owner Fred Laing Jr, and, personally, I think she has done a fantastic job (see also their Old Particular whisky’s branding).

Remarkable Regional Malts

Remarkable Regional Malts

First up for tasting was the Rock Oyster. This is a blend of Scottish Island malts with components from Jura, Arran, Orkney and a bit of Islay. This was the lightest dram of the evening, and obviously the best place to start. It had a distinctive salty and fresh nose, which carried on through the taste with honey-like sweetness and a late, faint peaty warmth. The finish was fresh and fairly quick but that lovely peat lingered. Shame the sample didn’t last that long…

 

Next was their highland blend, Timorous Beastie. This was another light dram but with a fair few more tastes fighting for prevalence with a full, fruity nose and a bit of sweet spice on the taste. This was a very well balanced dram with the original malt tastes coming through. Like the Rock Oyster, the Timorous Beastie, is bottled in small batches and released at 46.8% without colouring or chill-filtration. The key parts here hail from Dalmore, Blair Athol, Glen Garioch and Glengoyne – which are all pretty damn fine distilleries. The name incidentally is a Rabbie Burns reference and might just influence me to get some in for January 25th!

Douglas Laing's Remarkable Regional Malts

Douglas Laing’s Remarkable Regional Malts

Next up was their Speyside blend, Scallywag and this dram seemed to have even more flavours and smells fighting for pole position. I was told that the main component here is from Macallan and it was helped on the way by being casked in sherry butts, and that was clearly the forerunner on the nose. This thing smelt like Christmas. It was a little more syrupy than the 2 before it and it had a rich fruity sweetness from start to finish. The power of suggestion won me over when my evening’s guide suggested dark chocolate too. This was an enjoyable dram, and I think one that should be savoured and enjoyed slowly. This was 46% ABV and was again a purer dram for being non-chill-filtered and without any colouring. The fact that it contains Mortlach and Glenrothes would also mean that it would catch the eye of fond Speysiders.

 

The last dram was old friend Big Peat. I’ve enjoyed this dram before but amidst other peaty monsters, and on its own it certainly delivered, and was, with no disrespect to the others, easily my favourite of the evening. To be fair, anything that contains Ardbeg would probably win me over, but this blend of Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and a dash of the liquid gold from Port Ellen was the bees’ knees on the night. As a dram, it simply delivers peat throughout, but still remains quite fresh and light enough to leave you wanting more, rather than the full peaty blockbusters that can leave you shaking and savouring just the one as a night cap.

 

The pleasant company, relaxed atmosphere and cool surroundings of the Corks Out store made this a very enjoyable encounter, and being able to taste and talk through the decent and different drams one-on-one made me appreciate it even more (along with the brandy and ice wine, which were also pleasant to boot). At an average of £46 per bottle, these are definitely more premium blends than your standard supermarket fodder, but, having tasted them, I can safely say that you are getting your money’s worth.

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