Lowland Malt Scotch Whisky
BY DOUGLAS LAING
Douglas Laing & Co, World Whiskies Awards’ Brand Innovator of the Year 2016, today announces the launch of The Epicurean Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, the Lowland addition to the firm’s Remarkable Regional Malts collection.
Lagavulin 8 Year Old – 48% abv
Info: It’s Lagavulin’s 200th anniversary year this year, so they’re celebrating in various ways, one of which is by releasing this 8yo special release. It’s a limited edition and won’t be around forever, but there’s plenty of it we’re told.
Colour: Light straw, very natural; if colouring has been used then it’s quite a light touch.
Nose: The nose is somewhat lighter than expected, it’s quite sweet, with those good oily tarrey basey peat notes that I love in Lagavulin. Behind the peat there’s some slightly overripe tropical fruits. Fresh and sea breezy.
Benromach 35 Years Old – 43% abv
Info: Distilled before Benromach was mothballed in 1983 (and then subsequently purchased and brought back into production by Gordon & MacPhail in 1998). Matured in first fill sherry casks.
Colour: Golden amber, autumnal.
Nose: Deep and fruity, jam packed with… jam. Refined old oak notes, sweet brown sugar which is balanced with fresh citrus notes – think kiwi, gentle honey, peach and orange peel going to marmalade.
Palate: Instant gratifying sweet malty goodness which becomes a bit cinnamon spicy after a while. The fruits are all there packed and ready, grapefruits, orange, kiwi, all adding a nice sweetness to things. It’s not overly oily on your palate, has it been a little filtered? Slight char puffs.
Balblair 05 & 99 vintages
Back in Feb 2016 I visited Balblair distillery, and two of the drams – 05 and 99 vintages – were some of the ones we tasted as part of the tour. Because I was driving, Julie the distillery visitor centre manager, kindly popped the samples into 3cl bottles for me to take home. What a great idea and very responsible, especially in the light of lower drink drive limits in Scotland… well done to Balblair for offering this service!
Let’s take a look at the two vintages now…
Posted in Review, Whisky
Highland Park Ice Edition – 17 Year Old – 53.9% abv
Info: Highland Park have matured Ice Edition for 17 years predominantly in ex-bourbon casks and limited globally to 30,000 bottles. Ice will be followed by Fire in 2017.
Colour: Light gold and clear. There’s no colouring here.
Nose: Sweet puffs of dry summery peat, think the sort of peat that might be produced on moors covered in flowering heather. Lots of gentle tropical fruits, think bananas which are just getting to the ripe stage, not totally black, but getting there. Boiled sweets (candies).
Palate: Fairly thick and oily, covering your mouth with warming but gentle spices (think root ginger) which only slowly build. There’s plenty of sweet fruits up front, those tropical notes on the nose coming through nicely on the palate, ripe mango maybe.
Laphroaig Lore – 48% abv
Info: Crafted by Laphroaig Distillery Manager John Campbell, Lore combines a number of casks including first-fill Bourbon barrels, quarter casks and Oloroso Sherry hogsheads. Campbell has said that Laphroaig Lore is a mixture of 7 to 21 year old liquids with 3 more ages in between them.
Colour: Full gold with orange tints. Great oily legs.
Nose: A very relaxing and familiar Islay peat nose meets you, it’s not totally in your face, it’s relaxed and restrained, but very much there at the front. There’s hints of the TCP iodine notes that you might expect, those sticking plaster smells you might be looking for, but there’s also plenty more going on which, for me, is so much more interesting… there’s smoked bbq’d bacon notes, young virgin oak notes and a milky creaminess, along with sweet caramels. There’s also old costal notes, think sea breeze through a harbour full of boats with old salt encrusted ropes. I really really like the nose on this, you can keep smelling it for ages. There’s definitely a well balanced meeting of young and old whiskies here. Hints of coal.
Exile Casks release “The Trojan” & more!
Exile Casks is a project from well known drinks writers Joel Harrison-Grier and Neil Ridley of Caskstrength Creative who have scoured many a whisky distiller’s warehouse to find rare “lost” casks which they have bottled and made available directly to the public at very reasonable prices. They kindly invited me to a Twitter tasting event, sending me ‘The Trojan’ (their first release) and an as-yet-to-be-named second dram. Let’s take a look…