Multi Review: Five Douglas Laing Single Grains

douglas laing logo roundelFive Douglas Laing Single Grains

Douglas Laing independently bottle single malt whiskies and single grain whiskies under various different brands within their range.

Let’s take a look at five of their single grain whiskies, ranging from a younger 11yo right up to a stonking 50yo.

Single grain’s often don’t pack the same flavour hit as single malts, mostly due to the different production process… that said, I’ve always found them to have plenty of flavour, especially if picked well, as Douglas Laing surely does. Therefore, for me, I’m a big fan, I like easy going whiskies that don’t tax me too much, I’m lazy like that. Also, they generally cost less, winner!

old particular port dundas 11Old Particular – Port Dundas – 11 Years Old
Info: Distilled 2004, bottled 2016. Refill Barrel. 840 bottles. 48.4%. Closed distillery, production stopped in 2010.
Colour: Clear with a hint of morning gold.
Nose: Bright, creamy grains, slightly grassy and fairly sweet with oaky background.
Palate: Nicely oily, the strength seems to suit it well. Gentle, sweet, slight vanilla, candyfloss and butterscotch tones.
Finish: Longer than you might expect, slight spiced cream notes and gentle warmth.
Thoughts: It’s a rather glorious easy sipper at a great price (especially as it’s from a closed distillery), there’s more than enough spice and flavour to keep it interesting.
Available: RRP £38. Sold out on most websites I looked, maybe you’ll get lucky.

North British 24yo 1991Old Particular – North British – 24 Year Old
Info: Distilled October 1991, bottled November 2015. Refill hogshead. 256 bottles. Cask #11005. 49.4%.
Colour: Light straw.
Nose: There’s a fairly aged note to this, yet there’s an underlying fresh vanilla. Nuts and icing sugar.
Palate: Very slow and gentle on your palate, but there’s subtle sweet oak flavours and spices which build. It’s a fairly old dram, and it’s rather beautiful.
Finish: The finish is more buttery than I expected, with a little fizzy spice and a warming hug, there’s a touch of honey and oak at the end.
Thoughts: That’s rather fab; it’s an easy going, stick your feet up type of dram, and what a price for a 24yo!
Available: The Whisky Exchange – £69.95

Cameronbridge 25 Year Old 1990Old Particular – Cameronbridge – 25 Year Old

Info: Distilled June 1990, bottled June 2015. Refill butt. 282 bottles. 60.6%.
Colour: Ripe straw. From the distillery that brings you Haig Club.
Nose:  Takes a moment to come alive, lots of nuts, some honey and oak.
Palate: Nice and thick, easy at first but soon builds with the strength. Lively, fresh grains, gentle honey sweetness, with some ginger spice heat.
Finish: Thick on the finish, slow with oils and balanced sweetness. Oak right at the end, but not ruined by tannins. With water it’s quite spicey.
Water: At this strength a slug is worth it, and brings out a fresh herbal note.
Thoughts: It’s a tasty enough, but it’s not overly exciting, rather like Haig Club! That said, it’s good value, and takes water very well.
Available: RRP £82, sold out everywhere I’ve looked, maybe you’ll be lucky!

Strathclyde 27 Year Old 1987Old Particular – Strathclyde – 27 Year Old

Info: Distilled September 1987, bottled June 2015. Refill barrel. 198 bottles. 51.5%. Strathclyde is Pernod Ricard’s grain distillery in Glasgow.
Colour: Ripe straw.
Nose: Vanillery old grainy damp mossy wood greets your nose quite strongly.
Palate: It’s smooth, oily, and old… there’s enough strength to keep it interesting on your tongue though with some spices, sweetness and chalk.
Finish: The main event is gone quite quickly, but then it tails off into something that lasts for ages, and gives you a nice warm hug.
Water: A drop of water works really well for the dram bringing out some lighter more coconut and floral sweet notes that help balance it up (for me).
Thoughts: Nice pick, there’s something slightly flinty there too. 27 years old for under £100? Excellent. Don’t tell anyone!
Available: RRP £85, sold out everywhere I’ve looked, maybe you’ll be lucky!

Girvan 50yo 1965Xtra Old Particular – Girvan – 50 Year Old

Info: Distilled June 1965, bottled August 2015. Cask #10896. 153 bottles. 43.7%. Natural cask strength, natural colour, no chill-filtration. Refill hogshead, filled only a few years after the distillery started producing.
Colour: Fully golden with autumnal summer evening hints.
Nose: Delicate, old and restrained. There’s plenty of gentle grain sweetness there, but you can also get hints of smoke, maybe from the cask charring.
Palate: The palate is lovely and oily. There’s a balanced sweetness, but also a gentle herbal nature amongst the grains that still just about show their head after such a long maturation.
Finish: Smoke puffs are there, there’s toffee, demerara sugars, and some oak tannins that just underline things, they don’t ruin it at all. Some cocoa notes come forward, and then it all dries off somewhat. Amazingly good.
Thoughts: I’m a huge fan of naturally low abv whiskies, i.e. not filtered, so you get the full impact of oils, but you also get a dram that’s easy to drink without needing to water it down. This dram is that, but it’s also so much more, the puffs of smoke that seem to pervade it really help to escalate it to something magical and it easily takes on the best single malts around.
Available: Originally around £350, sold out everywhere I’ve looked, long gone. Maybe you’ll be lucky and find one, or be bidding for one at auction.

Overall Thoughts: There’s a slight variance in what I prefer, but in general the quality of all the selections here by Douglais Laing is high, so even if the particular cask bottlings I’ve reviewed here aren’t available any more, then you can be sure there’s a very similar one that’s just as good to look out for.

Thanks to Douglas Laing for the samples.

Comments or questions? Why not come and find me on twitter @steveprentice.


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4 Responses to Multi Review: Five Douglas Laing Single Grains

  1. Mark @ Malt says:

    I find it tough comparing so many single grains together in one sitting. So many similar flavours when grain isn’t all that complex a spirit at the best of times – it’s harder to properly differentiate them, especially if it’s a similar age and cask! Doug Laing are a pretty good bottler of grains, but I do miss their Clan Denny releases from a few years back.

    • Steve Prentice says:

      Absolutely, couldn’t agree more. I went through a process by which yes, briefly they were all compared on the same night just to set a baseline to check for any outliers, but then everything was revisited over plenty of evenings while the post was created and before being published. 🙂

      • Mark @ Malt says:

        Good approach. This is why I don’t have the patience to do too many single grains!

        • Steve Prentice says:

          To be fair that’s the same process I use for single malts and mostly any other drinks that I’ve got enough left of to give them a second whirl. 🙂 I’ve found in the past that I can have “off” days that I don’t always recognise… for example where I find something more spicy than maybe it really is, so a second go at it is useful if I can be bothered. 🙂

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