Monday, 29 February 2016

Rock Oyster - 46.8%

More fine whisky from the gang at Douglas Laing - this time the splendid Rock Oyster. 

I first bought a bottle when this blend of island malts from distilleries including Orkney, Arran, Jura and Islay first came out in January 2015. That bottle was a birthday gift to myself and I thoroughly enjoyed its smoky, costal character.

So recently, I purchased bottle no.2 - not something I do very often - and I'm pleased to say it's just as good as the first. As you'd expect, the Rock Oyster is non-chill filtered and has no colouring added. Just what we like.

There's a cask-strength bruiser out now, too, although I'm having difficulty tracking it down. Early reports have been very favourable and I'll be snaffling a bottle as soon as I can.

Nose: Chalky Edinburgh rock, salty vanilla, seaweed, fennel and white pepper. There's an ever-present peat presence - try saying that quickly after a few drams - but it's never overpowering. It kinda reminds me of Ardbeg due to its lemony character but who knows? Ash and green apple slices drizzled with lime juice. With water: More vanilla and less peat with some lovely soft lemon.

Palate: A sweet and sour arrival which also includes a whack of vanilla and lots of lemon and apple. The sourness never gets too in your face and that salty peat tang coats the tongue. Barley sugars and icing sugar. Black pepper. With water: Not quite as sour, with more vanilla. Very elegant.

Finish: This is where the peat kicks in - but there's also a delicate sweetness to it and a hint of toffee. Salty stuff. This would be the perfect companion on an Ayrshire beach in early January. Campfire smoke and a green herbal note carries through the long finish. With water: Slightly less peat and a touch more spice.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Big Peat Christmas 2015 edition - 53.8%

Season's greetings, malt heads! Oh, wait. Right, so I'm approximately two months late with this festive dram - but as you know, I like spending a bit of time with a whisky before taking down notes.

I have less than half a bottle of this stuff remaining, so now seems like as good time a time as any. And there's no way the remainder of this Big Peat will last until December 2016!

Now I did have a bottle of the 2014 edition, but that departed to the bottle bank a long time ago - and was sunk while I was taking an extended writing break - thanks to a broken elbow - through a good chunk of 2015. I have, however, taken a look at several Big Peat expressions in the past: The 2013 Christmas edition and the Small Batch, along with the standard bottle.

One thing I will say about the 2015, is that while Douglas Laing have once again blended malts from Bowmore, Ardbeg, Caol Ila and Port Ellen, this tastes a lot younger to me. Not a bad thing, just pointing it out. Oh, and as you would expect, this is natural colour and non chill filtered.

Nose: Sweet and salty peat, pebbles on a windswept Scottish beach, slight lemon and vanilla. Wet, green twigs, slightly high-toned. This might be lighter than the two other Christmas editions I've tried, but it still works beautifully. Wet ash, grass, hay, faint liquorice and fennel seeds. Also a splash of black coffee. With water: More lemon and, strangely, asparagus! The peat takes a back seat to more vegetal aromas.

Palate: Sweet arrival with loads of herbal character, very dry with billowing mineral peat smoke and liquorice. Slight vanilla, and extremely full-flavoured. With water: Much lighter with loads of lemony vanilla. It's not quite as dry, but again, a hefty belt of vegetal peat.

Finish: Sweet, dry, mineral peat - like licking a chunk of granite - or so I imagine! Quite a lot of vanilla, and those fennel seeds cling to the back of the tongue. Very spicy. With water: The vanilla and peat combine beautifully and leave a dry, dusty, aromatic taste. Lovely.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

GlenDronach Peated - 46%

Something a bit unusual tonight - a peated GlenDronach. Noted for their excellent sherry bombs, this came as a bit of a shock when I found out about it.

I became aware of this when my old newspaper colleagues Colin and Sean were filling their boots down at Glasgow's Good Spirits Co. Colin very kindly picked me up a bottle at the tail end of last year and promptly dropped it off at the flat shortly after.

It's a good 'un, too, and although it carries no age statement, it's at least bottled at 46%, non-chill filtered with no added colouring. Result!

Nose: The dram carries a whiff of chalky, flinty peat. There's also plenty of fruit in the shape of apples, gooseberries, white grape skins and strawberry syrup. It's also has a bit of weight to it, with Soreen malt loaf and a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Palate: Plenty of sweet peat and liquorice. Pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. That dense malt loaf note is also present but it's fruitier here. Lemon and grapefruit rind.

Finish: The chalky peat note returns, along with vanilla and coffee cake. It's very dry with raisins, milky coffee, dried chilli flakes and cocoa nibs.

Enjoyable stuff - although I'd love to try this at cask-strength.

Monday, 1 February 2016

A Taste of Teeling - Part 2

Back in September 2014, I wrote about Teeling’s rum cask finish and their single grain Irish whiskies. I really enjoyed both bottles, so when the 2015 whisky advent calendar revealed two more from Teeling, I was delighted.

First up is their single malt. It’s made from 100% malt whiskies and five wine-cask-finishes were used to blend this bad boy together - specifically sherry, port, madeira, white Burgundy and cabernet sauvignon. No age statement is given, but according to the Teeling website, the bottle contains “aged malt whiskey up to 23 years old.”

Next is a special release which, unlike the single malt, is now pretty hard to get hold of - the Teeling Silver Reserve 21 year old single malt. It was matured in ex bourbon barrels and then finished in Sauterne wine casks. That addition has given this dram a huge, fruity character - and it’s lovely whiskey. A total of 5000 bottles were produced.

It should also be noted that Teeling bottle all their juice at 46% and don’t chill filter them. Great stuff. Not sure about added colouring though.

Teeling Single Malt - 46%

Nose: Golden syrup and honey straight off the bat. There’s also fresh vanilla , cinnamon, Murray Mints and creamy barley sugars. There’s a green herbal note floating around along with a whiff of grappa and chalky Edinburgh rock. With a dollop of water, white grapes, oaky sawdust, cardamon, sweet toffee and sharp kiwi fruit join the party.

Palate: A savoury sweet arrival which gives way to thick honey. The taste is actually quite like the nose, with buttery mint and a little floral kick. Water ramps up the oak and vanilla and adds runny caramel. This has a lovely viscous mouth feel.

Finish: Sweet and spicy with cinnamon sticks dipped in honey. Water turns up the volume on the vanilla and adds white pepper and bitter dark chocolate. Lovely.

Teeling Silver Reserve 21 Year Old Single Malt - 46%

Nose: Right, who dropped the fruit bomb? Wow! Honeydew melon, lemon sherbet, tangerine, pineapple and mango. There’s also dusty vanilla oak. Water sends the fruit through the roof and brings a touch of passion fruit to the show. I also get gummy lemon Haribo and white sugar.

Palate: Big, bold and mouthwateringly fruity! Ooof! Orange segments and tangerine skin - and that orange continues in waves. There’s also white grapes and slight foam banana. After a few minutes, the oak starts to asset itself, but never becomes over the top. It seems impossible, but the addition of water adds even more fruit and ramps up the wood, while adding a dab of liquorice. This has to be classed as one of your five a day!

Finish: Vanilla oak, more tangerine and lemon. There’s some pleasant spice with water adding dusty oak, citrus and some vanilla.