Douglas Laing Regional Malts Tasting

remarkable_regional_malts

This past week I took myself to a tasting of several Douglas Laing bottlings (and a Glen Scotia), at Wine & Flavours in Ramat Gan. The tasting was very well hosted by Assaf, a very active figure in the local whisky community and fellow Malt Mongers Israel member. As I mentioned in my review of Big Peat, Douglas Laing released the said blended malt to represent the character of Islay. Due to the success of Big Peat this was expanded to a range of blended malts each representing a specific Scotch whisky region.

The regional blended malts were:

  • Big Peat – Islay Malts (Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen).
  • Scallywag – Speyside malts (Mortlach, Macallan, Glenrothes and others).
  • Timorous Beastie – Highland malts (Glen Garioch, Dalmore, Glengoyne and others)
  • Rock Oyster – Island malts (Jura, Islay, Arran, Orkney and others)

There is another regional blended malt, the recently released Epicurean, representing the Lowland region, but it’s not available in Israel yet to we didn’t get to try it.

In addition to this set of blended malts we also tasted 2 single malts from the Provenance range, a 15 year old Macduff and a 15 year old Blair Athol and a 15 year old Glen Scotia to represent Campbeltown (Glen Scotia is the only Campbeltown whisky available in Israel and IMO the 15 is the best of their current range).

On to the whiskies (note: Big Peat and Glen Scotia 15 have been previously reviewed, so no notes here)


Macduff 15 Provenance

Aged 15 years. 46%ABV. Matured in a refill hogshead. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled from cask DMG9873.

Nose: Heavy malt. Quite strong ethanol, more than I’d expect for 15 years. Honey. Floral. Light fruit, pears, green apples. White grape juice. Slight berry note. Butterscotch. Simple syrup.

Palate: Vanilla. More strong ethanol. Honey. Boiled sweets. Lemon. Something dry and bitter, a little unpleasant. Slight caramel toffee.

Finish: Medium long. Dry bitter alcohol. Bit of light wood and some floral notes.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: No

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: No

VFM: N/A

This was not a hit with me. The cask used was clearly very tired as I could still mainly taste the distillate, of which I’m not a fan.


Timorous Beastie

Aged 3 years*. 46.8%ABV. No colourant added, non-chill filtered.

Nose: Young malty notes first. Honey nut corn flakes. Lychee. Stewed pairs. Asparagus. Canned pineapple. Woodspice. Cut wet grass.

Palate: Caramel. Toffee. Pears. Woodspice, gets bigger 9n the swallow. Balsa wood. Bit of a sour note.

Finish: Medium long. Sour grains continue, almost like a sorghum beer. Little Salt. Toffee.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 3/5

This is the one I was looking forward to the most, having heard some good reports. It does a decent job at representing the Highland profile, however I found it a bit too young. I think that part of the problem is that some of the component malts are malts that need age to be good. Still not a bad dram, quite light and pleasant.


Blair Athol 15 Provenance

Aged 15 years. 46%ABV. Matured in a refill hogshead. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled from cask DMG9873.

Nose: Nice sherry nose. Caramel toffee. Bit of a malt note. Honey. Raspberry vinegar. Slight salty note, like very faint sea breeze. Some rich wood. Ginger.

Palate:  Chewy wood. Nutty. Dark fruits, plum, cherry. Wispy woodspice and mild pepper.

Finish: Long. Lots of woodspice. Dry, mild sherry. Bitter wood. Salt. Sort of not sweet honey.

Would I buy this: Yes

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: N/A

This was probably my favourite of the night. The malt was a good age and the cask really did it quite well with a nicely balanced sherry profile. Good, no-nonsense whisky.


Scallywag

Aged 3 years*. 46%ABV. Matured in a sherry butts and bourbon hogsheads. No colourant added and non-chill filtered.

Nose: Young. Again. Lots of ethanol. Toffee. Marzipan. Coconut. Juicy fruits. Bubblegum. Woodspice, cinnamon, allspice, cloves. Dried peaches in custard.

Palate:  Bitter wood. Nutty note. Cinnamon bun. Barley sugar. Some more marzipan. Some bitter citrus.

Finish: Medium. Still some young malt notes. Salt. Woodspice. Nutty wood.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: No

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 3/5

This was quite generic tasting to me, like many of the generic Speyside malts, so it does what it says on the box. I found this a bit young, like the Beastie some of the component malts are known to need some age to them. Also maybe some more emphasis on the sherry would do some good here.


Rock Oyster

Aged 3 years*. 46.8%ABV. No colourant added and non-chill filtered.

Nose: Young malt notes, which fade after a bit. Lemon. Sea spray. Camphor. Naphthalene. There’s a smell here I remember from high school chemistry involving a halide gas of some sort, can’t remember what exactly. White grape juice. Light vanilla, very very light. Bit of a toffee note with time.

Palate: Grains, maybe with some honey or brown sugar. Citrus oils. Bit of a herbal note. Nice mouthfeel. Light sweet spirit, almost a light sweet winey feel to it, along with a little bit of sweet peat. A decent amount of salt at the back of the mouth.

Finish: Long. Salty. Lemon meringue. Honey. Brine. Iodine.

Would I buy this: Yes

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 3/5

I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did. I tasted it a few weeks ago, admittedly in a bit of a rush and found it too young, but with some glass time that young malt smell went away and it actually opened up quite nicely and revealed a decent amount of complexity and some lovely coastal and medicinal notes.


*For lack of age statement

As always with the Wine & Flavours tastings, an enjoyable evening. I was quite surprised how I went in expecting to really like the Beastie and having already written off the Rock Oyster , and then had those expectations flipped around. I think the regional malt series is made up of very young malts, so it works a lot better for the Rock Oyster and Big Peat (which I like quite a lot).

 

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