Apologies for the late running of this whisky review, but it is still in time for Christmas – just (you can still buy it in time for the 25th!). Big Peat was the first Douglas Laing vatted malt and must be well into its 70th or so batch. I have a lot of time for the blend – consistently excellent and not just peaty. Lots of complexity and zesty coastal enjoyment, and always very drinkable. I always make sure to buy (and split) a bottle of the Christmas vatting, and keep back some tasting samples to compare to previous years.
Body - Sharply floral, like tasted perfume. Lots of depth - confident cereal and toffee, bran flakes and lemon sherbets.
Finish - Medium long, oily, soft toffee. The peat character is bold and bright, and very well balanced.
Compared to 2014
On the nose, the 2015 is much more lemon bright, more cereal and a little dirtier. The 2014 is a bit deeper with musky cask wax. On the delivery, the 2014 is softer, waxier and fruitier, but has a much sharper finish and a huge, numbing peat blast at the end- the 2015 is sweeter. I think the 2014 is "big peat"ier on account of that big young blast, but the 2015 is probably (on balance) an even better whisky.
Compared to the 2013
On the nose, the 2013 is lighter, a little more polite, with the 2015 more lemony again. The 2013 definitely smells the most mature of the three, assuming no bottle effect in a 3cl sample bottle in two years! On the delivery, the 2013 is initially mescally but then lots of granite, ozone and a really coastal peat. The finish is very mescal but absolutely lovely with it. Quite different to the 2015 with its cereal toffee.
All three are actually very different, I think the peat is receding a little in the finish the later we go - perhaps that's a change in the character of the Caol Ila. It used to be a bit funkier too. I do like the increased sweetness though.