THE weather is getting colder here in Scotland - much colder, so my thoughts have been turning to Islay malts and their robust peaty character in order to take the chill off the old bones.
After buying a bottle of Douglas Laing's excellent Scallywag recently, I decided to purchase one of their other products which lies at the opposite end of the flavour spectrum from their sweet wee blended malt - Big Peat.
Big Peat himself is plastered across the front of the bottle - taking the full force of a blast of bracing coastal sea air and his mug sets the tone for this humdinger of a blended malt.
Big Peat is non-chill filtered, bottled at 46% and is made up of several Islay single malts, including whiskies from Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and the defunct Port Ellen distilleries. It is extremely light in colour and should anyone ever tell you that the darker a whisky the more flavour it has, give them a dram of Big Peat and watch their face as Peat happily slaps them about the chops with a hefty smack of deep, delicious flavours.
On the nose there's slabs of sweet peat, smoky bacon crisps, wet leaves, bonfire smoke, TCP, soap, liquorice and it's all wrapped up in a wonderful salty tang.
The palate is sweet and smoky, with honey, chipotle chillies and charcoal chips, while the sweetness continues through the finish, along with lovely deep peaty notes and crushed black peppercorns.
It's a bruiser of a whisky and absolutely perfect for those long, cold winter nights. There's also a Christmas edition out now which is bottled at cask strength. I've not tried it yet, but if Peat asks, tell him I'm on the case and to go easy on me.