Douglas Laing Tasting with Fred Laing

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Fred Laing doing his thing.

Sorry about the delay since my last post. I was on holiday in Italy but am back and well rested. Very shortly before I left, to the point that I didn’t have time to write this up, I was invited to a very special tasting event. I recently posted about and evening that our whisky club, MMI had in conjunction with Sipil, a local importer and online retailer, who have recently begun to import Douglas Laing products to Israel, currently the only independent bottler on the market.

Well Sipil went and brought Fred Laing, Managing Director and Master Blender of Douglas Laing (and son of the company’s founder) to Israel to host a series of tastings. Fred is quite an effervescent character and spent most of the evening regaling us with stories from the company’s history and his own journey through the whisky industry, specifically the evolution of the company from just a blender to the single cask market

Throughout the evening we tasted the range of regional blended malts, the 8 year old Mortlach from the provenance range, 12 year old Glenrothes from the Old Particular range (both of which I took notes for at the MMI tasting), the 13 year old edition of the Scallywag Speyside blended malt, the 21 year old Old Particular Glen Garioch and at the end of the evening a special bottle which Fred brought along himself, an 18 year old Old Particular Laphroaig.


The Epicurean

This is a blended malt from the Lowland region, the most recent addition to the series and the 5th representative of the 6 whisky regions (though Fred mentioned a Campbeltown representative is in the works).

Aged 3 years*. 46% ABV. No colourant added and non-chill filtered.

*for lack of age statement

Nose: Very young, quite aggressive. Hints of new make. Sweet malt. Porridge. Honey. Maltesers. Herbal honey.

Palate: Mainly heat. Slightly oily. Sunflower seeds. Malt. Creamy vanilla. Wet coriander leaves.

Finish: Long. Butter. Porridge. Sourdough.

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: 2/5

This one struck me as all too young and aggressive, an issue I have with the majority of Lowland malts which I think need age and even then can be lacking in character. I’m sure this has its fans out there, lid for every pot and all that, but I’ll be sticking with Big Peat given a choice from the core range.


Rock Oyster Cask Strength

This is a cask strength version of the regional blended malt from the Islands “region”. I’ve tried the regular version a few times and found it a bit too young and one-dimensional, let’s see what Cask Strength does to this.

Aged 3 years*. 57.4% ABV. No colourant added and non-chill filtered. Bottled at batch strength.

*for lack of age statement

Nose: Turkish delight. Marzipan. Woodsmoke. Basted meats. Glace cherry. Honey. Slightly chalky and alkaline, Milk of Magnesia even.

Palate: Salt. Soy sauce. Vinegar. Boiled sweets. Vanilla. Vegetal peat. Porridge.

Finish: Long. Porridge. Malt. Wood smoke. Sweet peat. Marzipan.

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 liked this a good deal. The extra alcohol seems to have delivered more on the sweet, candied notes here and highlighted the very interesting peat character. A win in my book.


Scallywag 13

This is an age stated version of the usually NAS Scallywag. In addition to the age statement, it has also been made from malts which have all been sherry matured, something often associated with the Speyside region,

Aged 13 years. 46% ABV. No colourant added and non-chill filtered. 

Nose: Rich, nutty sherry. Slightly Sulphury sherry. Marmalade. Jam. Woodspice. Toffee. Slight hints of bubblegum.

Palate: Sweet pancakes with maple syrup. Orange marmalade. Cacao. Raspberry powder. Chocolate liqueur.

Finish: Long. Chocolate liqueur carries on. Slight sulphur. Dry nutty wood. Jaffa cakes. Cafe latte.

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: 4/5

I tasted this at the MMI evening without taking notes and found the sherry profile too sweet to my liking. This is still true but I did notice some things I may have missed which made me warm up to it a little more. Still not my cup of tea but a fantastically well made blended malt.


Glen Garioch 21 Old Particular

I sung songs of praise for this in my post from the MMI evening but lamented not taking notes. This is an older Garioch made from some of the last peated malt to run off the stills before their 1995 closure.

Aged 21 years. 51.5% ABV. Matured in a refill hogshead. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled from cask DL 11471.

Nose: Wet rocks in the sun. Salt. Dry grass. Bitters. Gooseberries. Wood smoke. Pencil shavings. Pineapple. Rosemary.

Palate: Sweet grassy notes. Creamy vanilla. Candied orange peel. Marzipan. Woodspice.

Finish: Long. Turkish delight with powdered sugar. Cinnamon and brown sugar. Spices flair up and linger for a long time.

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: 4/5

Still my favourite of all the bottlings being imported. It’s a sublime mix of light, aged peat with some sweet, cakey notes and woody spices. Really a fantastic and interesting dram best appreciated in a quiet room with lots of free time.


Laphroaig 18 Old Particular

This is the special bottle that Fred brought with him, a real treat considering the rarity and price of independently bottled Laphroaigs these days. It’s one of my favourite distilleries so I was really happy when I saw this.

Aged 18 years. 48.4% ABV. Matured in a refill hogshead. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled from cask DL 1159.

Nose: Creamy, smoky toffee. Candy floss. Teriyaki. Light leather. Brine. Light oils. Germolene.

Palate: Very sublime. Citrus oils. Oil smoke. Seaweed on the beach. Cedar. Fresh olives.

Finish: Long. Fresh olives. Dry wood. Nutmeg. Dried orange peel. Cacao.

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: 2/5

A real treat. As often happens with an older Laphroaig, the peat scales back and lets all kinds of delightful aromas and flavours through. This one was quite oily, starting sweet on the nose and drying out on the palate.


In all an amazing evening. Fred is really an awesome guy and it was a pleasure to meet him and taste some of the fruits of his lifelong labour. I still can’t stress how happy it makes me to see an independent bottler return to our shores, hopefully to stay this time.

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