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.