Tag Archives: Douglas Laing & Co Ltd

Big Peat – 20cl

Bought: Master of Malt, 3rd August 2016

96/100 – Whisky Bible 2011
8.5/100 – Jo from Whisky Wednesday (video below)
84.83/100 – Whiskybase (average from 25 member votes)

Big Peat first appeared in the Whisky Bible in 2011 with a fantastic score of 96/100. In the latest edition batch 30 scores 92/100 and batch 31 scores 90.5/100, which means quality has slipped a little (according to the author) but not by much. Unfortunately my 20cl bottle doesn’t have a batch number on it but according to Whiskybase this quarter bottle first appeared in 2009. I’m hoping my version dates back to that time and the epic 96/100. The author concludes with “had the Caol Ila been reduces slightly, and with it the oils, this might well have been World Whisky of the Year”. Praise indeed.

Big Peat is a vatting together of Islay single malts. Douglas Laing who make Big Peat describe it as “Caol Ila spirit bringing sweetness, Bowmore the perfect balance, Ardbeg the medicinal, earthy quality and Port Ellen, a degree of elegance”. But as the price of Port Ellen rises you have to think there’s very little going into the Big Peat mix. I bet I won’t be able to identify it. Nevertheless Big Peat is a classic of its time and a dram that every whisky enthusiast should try eventually.

20cl tasting notes provided on Whiskybase:

Nose: Earthy, mossy and briney. That smoked kipper quality. Some ripe fruits lurk.
Taste: The smoke coats and fills the mouth. A decent oak roasted salmon oiliness. Leaves a little salt as well.
Finish: Long with plenty of smoke and sweet honey.

Here’s Jo from Whisky Wednesday with his review on You Tube (June 2015):

Big Peat NAS 20cl

Strathclyde 2005 10-year-old Old Particular

Bought: Master of Malt, 3rd August 2016

72/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
86/100 – Whiskybase (average from 10 member votes)

The Strathclyde grain distillery began life in 1927 and is located in Glasgow in the central belt of Scotland. It’s owned by Pernod Ricard, who own numerous single malt distilleries including Glenlivet, Scapa and Aberlour. Strathclyde grain whisky is used in the production of blends such as Ballantine’s and Teacher’s.

Whiskybase members have loaded up the details of 46 different bottlings of Strathclyde but only 2 of those have come from the distillery owners. 44 have been from independent bottlers such as my ‘Old Particular’ by Douglas Laing. Scoring 86/100 from 10 votes is an excellent score. One member who rates it 87/100 kindly leaves these tasting notes:

Nose: Cherry, cranberry, toffee, orange and lemon. The latter gets stronger, bringing that typical freshness of young grains. A small whiff of smoke and later a little tree resin.
Taste: Cranberry, toffee, lemon, orange, spice and a little marshmallow.
Finish: Cherry, toffee and cranberry.

Wow, that’s a lot of fruit flavours, with toffee, spice and a hint of smoke. It seems to me that single grain is a secret pleasure of a minority of whisky drinkers when it should have wider appeal. Good examples are there to be found. I’m beginning to wish I’d bought a 70cl bottle rather than a 3cl sample!

Update – added the score of 72/100 from the new Whisky Bible 2017, which classifies this whisky as “usually drinkable but don’t expect the earth to move”. This is because the author detects some sulphur on the nose and finish but summaries with “some attractive silkiness at least”.

Here’s ‘The Good Dram Show’ on You Tube with their thoughts on this 10yo as part of a review of 6 different bottlings of Strathclyde (November 2016):

Strathclyde 2005 10yo 3cl

Glasgow European City of Culture 1990

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 20th July 2016

None but listed on Whiskybase here.

Here’s a word of warning to anyone considering buying an opaque bottle in an online auction. If there’s no mention in the description of the ‘fill level’ then email the auction house and ask them. Some online auctions will say “good audible level” in a bottle’s details or something to let you know how much liquid you’re getting. Unfortunately that’s not the case for Just Whisky Auction where I bought this Glasgow 1990 blend. They said nothing, which made me assume it was as good as new with whisky right up to the neck – wrong! As I was preparing my bottle for the photo below I realised the liquid inside was quite low. If Just Whisky Auction simply didn’t check the fill level it makes you wonder what else they’re not analysing, which is how fakes slip through the net at auctions.

I’ve been unable to find any reviews about this blend, which is hardly surprising considering its age and lack of pedigree. But I bought it for sentimental reasons rather than tasting a great dram. Back in 1990, when I was young and charming, I spent a few summer days with my brother who was at Glasgow University. The World Cup football tournament was in full swing and Scotland were due to play Sweden in a group match. My brother and I watched it on a big screen in the university union. This was my first experience of ‘old firm’ fans and it was quite hilarious. Everyone in the room was supporting Scotland but when a Celtic player got the ball the Rangers fans would boo followed by laughter, and vice versa. In the end Scotland won 2-1 and everyone went home happy.

Not only does this bottle bring back personal memories but it marked a significant point in Glasgow’s life. By the 1970s Glasgow was a complete bog hole but in the 1980s it had a facelift and by 1990 it was somewhere worth visiting. The award of ‘European City of Culture’ was the icing on the cake and announced to the world that Glasgow had something to offer other than incomprehensible tramps and the stink of the Clyde. Since then it’s never looked back and it’s a city that Scotland can be proud of, rather than the embarrassing uncle you hope wont turn up to the party.

Glasgow European City of Culture 1990 NAS 75cl

Garnheath 1974 41-year-old Xtra Old Particular

Bought: Master of Malt, 3rd March 2016

94/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
8.7/100 – Scotchwhisky.com
87.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)

Garnheath was a single grain whisky produced at the lowlands Moffat distillery between 1965 and its closure in 1986. The distillery also produced the single malts Glen Flagler, Killyloch and Islebrae. Killyloch stopped production in the 1970s and Islebrae was only used for blending and never bottled as single malt. Imagine if it was! It would cost a fortune because of its rarity. I can only assume that no casks still exist of Islebrae or someone would have bottled it by now.

94/100 in the Whisky Bible by Jim Murray classifies this single grain as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. The author says of the taste “wow! More than a hint of ginger here! Really a very warmed-up dram with spices holding the tiller and contrasting sublimely against the muscovado sugar and big butterscotch”. He summaries with “the rarest of the rare single grain – as though aware of its unique place in the lexicon of vanishing scotch – doesn’t disappoint for a moment.”

There are only 15 bottlings of Garnheath mentioned on Whiskybase, 6 from the 1960s, 8 from the 1970s and one from the distillery’s final year in 1986. 12 of the 15 are rated and none score less than 84.2/100, which is an excellent mark. The highest scoring bottle is a ‘Celebration of the Cask’ by Carn Mor, a 41yo from 1974, which is exactly the same year and age as my bottle by Douglas Laing.

Scoring a fantastic 87.5/100 on Whiskybase from 4 member votes, one taster leaves this summary “smooth, creamy and very appealing. Although 41 years of age, the influence of the wood is obvious but the oak isn’t overpowering at all. The spirit has extracted delicate toffee, vanilla and coconut flavours over time and is in perfect balance with subtle flavours of sandalwood and cedarwood coming from the oak. Don’t add water! A brilliant whisky experience – I very much enjoyed this beauty!”

Garnheath 1974 41yo 70cl

Linkwood 13-year-old (Old Malt Cask)

Bought – The Whisky Shop, 18th October 2013

My second ‘Old Malt Cask’ having bought a Glengoyne last month. It’s also my 2nd Linkwood having got a more mature 15yo by Gordon & MacPhail. As usual with the ‘Old Malt Cask’ range this 13yo is un-chill filtered and has no colouring added. It was distilled in May 1997 and bottled in June 2010. 50% in strength so I’ll definitely be adding a bit of water!

It was purely by chance that I acquired this Linkwood. I’d ordered a bottle of Dailuaine from ‘The Whisky Shop’ only to be told that it was no longer available. I was offered my money back or something different. The Linkwood was £1 more than the Dailuaine but they were kind enough to take the hit, given they’d failed to supply what I’d originally ordered.

Unfortunately I can’t find any reviews yet for this bottling, even on the extensive list on Malt Maniacs for Linkwood.

Linkwood 13yo 20cl

Blair Athol 1999 12-year-old Provenance

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 17th September 2013

84.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
80.67/100 – Whiskybase (average from 3 member votes)

I was slightly surprised to find this version of Blair Athol in the Whisky Bible, thinking it was a bit obscure, but there it was at the bottom of page 56. This is my first bottle of ‘Provenance’ by Douglas Laing & Co. Apparently it has a “sherry butt” which Jim Murray doesn’t feel adds anything to the dram. Nevertheless 84.5/100 is a good score and I’d rather have a sherry butt than cottage cheese thighs any day! With no added colour,  non-chill filtered and 46% it has all the good things going for it.

Blair Athol 1999 12yo Provenance 20cl

Glengoyne 12-year-old (Old Malt Cask)

Bought – Whisky Galore, 1st August 2013

My first ‘Old Malt Cask’ bottling by Douglas Laing & Co Ltd. This 12-year-old was distilled in December 1999 and bottled in 2012. Cask No.9281. I like the fact the ‘Old Malt Cask’ range have no colouring added, are un-chill filtered and hit you between the eyes with 50%. Excellent!

Glengoyne 12yo 20cl