Big Peat is gimmicky whisky success story which I’ve reviewed here before earlier this year. It’s part of independent bottler Douglas Laing’s regional blended malt series where each blend represents the character of a whisky region. Towards the end of the year they always release a special “Christmas Edition” batch, which is bottled at cask strength as opposed to 46% like the regular one. Each year’s release also comes with a unique and creative label. While I prefer to focus on the contents of the bottle it is a nice little touch.
This is the release from 2013 and is made up of malts from Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen. I’ve it had lying around for about a year now, just never had a reason to open until now, but the /r/Scotch subreddit on reddit is doing a community review on all the Big Peat Christmas editions and I really love participating in those. The weather is getting colder now anyway so might as well. I quite enjoy the regular Big Peat, it’s young, but quite an easy drinker. Let’s see what this one does.
Aged 3 years*. 54.9% ABV. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength.
*for lack of age statement
Nose: Wow, very young. That sweet malty peat unmistakable in a 3-5 year old Islay. late. Chalk dust. Campfire. Ash. Road tar. New leather Loads of brine and iodine. There’s a fruitiness to this but it’s overpowered by the young malty notes. Can pick up hints of lychee and kumquat.
Palate: Very ashy. Sweet peat. Malt. Porridge. Honey. Lychee. Seaweed. Iodine. Some woody tannins. Again there seems to be more going on here but the young, sweet malty peat notes kind of drown everything else out.
Finish: Bitter wood. Salt, loads of salt. Soot and pitch. Sweet malty porridge. Bitter citrus. Lingering ash and smoke.
Would I buy this: No
Would I order this in a bar: No
Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes
This was a little disappointing. It was made up of some very young whiskies indeed. I don’t have an issue with that in and of itself, I actually quite like very young Islay whiskies (sucker for Kilchoman) but the mix here felt like it was drowning out the better parts of this whisky. Hopefully I’ll get to see some improvement if I get to try some later versions of this, but as is I’d have to say that this is one of the rare occasions where cask strength does more harm than good.