A serious backlog. Some samples, a tweet tasting, some bottleshares. The quiet quality coming out of Douglas Laing is very impressive.
First a catch up on the Remarkable Regional Malts drammers, then some young but confident Provenance fun, finally the Old Particular blockbusters.
Nose - This smells suspiciously like young Auchentoshan! I am a big Auchentoshan fan. Gentle, floral wax, barley sugar, royal icing, and young, slightly sour, but competent cask. Gentle not-quite-ripe mango, and laminated cardboard.
Body - Pretty delicious. Soft, sour toffee, mouthfilling oils, raspberry jam. Some tobacco with water.
Finish - Medium and quite intense on the young cask (plywood, bitter tannins, lots of oil, slightly fizzing) - plenty of first fill bourbon cask in here (or maybe it's just Auchentoshantastic).
Refreshing summer dramming… a really returnable nose, really enticing and even more so with water. Big, structured sweetness on the delivery. An excellent blended malt. Recommended.
Reviewed before but that was the first batch, I’m sure this must be a later one.
Nose - Restrained sweetness and gently waxed, with that trademark Douglas Laing sour complexity. I'm much better attuned to the young Speyside character than I was when I first tried this whisky; ripe pears and soft Glenrothes bring together the gentle sweetness. With time, there's a quite compelling mineral edge to it.
Body - Slightly spicy (young sherried Macallan), unripe green apple, lemon sherbets. It's an Edrington special.
Finish - Sharp, young sherried malt. Quite short with fennel seeds and a rounding toffee.
This works well but reminds me of how much I struggled with the batch 1 bottle I had.
Nose - More intensely Glenrothes and better for it. More perfume (both men's and women's), more glacé cherries. It has the midrange knocked back into it, definitely preferred, £10 well spent. Big vanilla tones with water, like essence of milk tart.
Body - Night and day better, it's amazing the difference a few percent makes (I suppose it's a different batch though). Intense orange oils, penny toffees, a big sherry backbone here. Properly delicious. Flaws open up with water (lack of midrange, shortness on delivery). Maybe I'm just too used to cask strength single cask.
Finish - Long and tannic, almost cloying at the back of the tongue. Love hearts at the end.
This definitely works well, recommended over the regular strength.
Now some of the Provenance series. The first few notes were from a tweet tasting (#TasteTheRegion) I can’t believe I haven’t written up yet. They all seem to still be in stock though. Then some other, more recent ones.
Refill hogshead 10986
Nose - Fresh, white winey, light malic sourness - next to that a really fruity sweetness, quite perfumed and floral. Lots of orange ice cream, powdered ginger. A lovely, confident, fruity nose with lots of richness. Good stuff. With water, sweeter, slightly richer, less perfumed.
Body - Quite sharp, hot, sour, but with corn, hot sugar syrup and a touch of ginger again. Fuller initially with water, slightly fruitier, but then a touch of cardboard and more spice.
Finish - Quite short, red pepper. Chilli pepper with water.
A really solid drammer, it'd be a good Autumn drink I think.
Refill hogshead 11075. At £45 and still in stock I’d call this a no brainer (I bought one ages ago).
Nose - Complex, fresh orchard fruit, delightful cask wax, extremely juicy. Hints of acrylic paint and petrichor, and a touch of paraffin (hot earth, window putty - it's like an old greenhouse). Fruitier and waxier with water. It's a beautiful thing.
Body - Beautifully deep and sweet, quite a lot of hot radiator and spice in there too. Orange zest. Very ripe, fruity - fruit pastilles and neat orange squash. I must be too used to cask strength as I can't get used to 46% whisky with water, but it does develop a slightly more cereal and grown up delivery.
Finish - Slightly sharp and biscuity. Medium but smashable. Lush.
This is seriously good for the age, well recommended.
Nose - Muddier and much less exciting on the nose at first, less fruit, more cereal and a touch of sulphur. But with time, a lovely fruit note battles through; orange and tart tatin, with cherry lip salve and colouring pencils. Grows on you. Even more orange juice with water.
Body - Rich and oily, slightly hot at the side of the palate with fresh cherry tobacco. Almost chewy with lots of orange zest. Ginger snaps, beef stew and carrots. Wow that really has grown on me. Toastier and slightly spicy with water, with hotter waxes.
Finish - Long and tannic, really quite dry. Good though. Tropical burps although that could have been the Mortlach, this was a fast tasting.
Nose - Sweet, soft toffee, slightly salty and very satisfying. Not unlike a salted caramel. There's something coastal in here but only by association, like chips fried in beef dripping with salt and vinegar. Lovely to nose an unpeated young bunna and this is a good one. Riper with water and very bunna, very old bunna. Lovely.
Body - Ripe peaches, cardboard, honey, burnt toast, sechuan peppercorns and black pepper. Waxy and slightly meaty but that cardboard note is a little offputting. More intense with water - spicier, more black pepper.
Finish - Very drying indeed, almost metallic.
Body - Ripe and intensely fruity, like orange candy whistles. Cardboard and orange again? Fried chilli pepper.
Finish - Toasty and tannic, a touch of hot sulphur, quite long. Better with water, the sweetness from the nose comes out.
Cask 10960, sherry butt. There are some cracking Provenance bottlings.
Nose - The epitome of young, complex, waxy, malt cask. This is the kind of nose you'd look back on with rose tinted spectacles if they weren't still churning them out all day every day. Chalky, earthy with letter sealing wax and well iced cupcakes. Floury textured pears, and a touch of liquorice root. These young DLaing casks are often like this – ballsy but fab. I want to believe this is Clynelish weirdly. Slightly better and more mature with water.
Body - Rich, complete… chocolate covered salted caramel, more ripe pear, sesame snaps. There's definitely a coastal or slightly peated note here, perhaps it's been stored next to their collection of Port Ellen casks.
Finish - Raw cereal, numbing and oily. Charred at the end.
What a lovely, honest, drinkable whisky with loads of character and structure. Highly recommended. Just like that Mortlach earlier, that was amazing.
Refill sherry cask 10873, June 1997-August 2015, 744 bottles.
Nose - Sour coconut ice, sulphured refill sherry cask. Meaty and vinegared, with a real undercurrent of wax, bon bons and complex, sweet sherry. It's a conflicted nose - but somehow I'm expecting greatness on the delivery.
Body - That bizarre sweet and sour continues into the delivery, this is the kind of thing Springbank gets away with on account of its awesome spirit… but it's not totally pleasant here. Red wine vinegar and chewed crayons. Take a big swig of it and it's apple Danish pastries.
Finish - More old red wine, Australian (hot and strong), pâté on toast. Tannic with spray deodorant with water.
Despite those weird notes I'm finding myself very drawn to another sip of this and it's all gone. Weird whisky, but compelling.
September 1992-August 2014, refill hogshead 10436. High hopes.
Body - Intense, dirty sugar, with apple chews and wax behind it. Buttercream icing. Dear lord this is one of the sweetest whiskies I've ever tasted.
Finish - Long and intensely, cloyingly sweet. Fudge. Strawberries covered in icing sugar.
I thought we were onto something with the nose (I was looking for stock). But it crashed and burned in the delivery. Too sweet for me.
September 1995-December 2015, 314 bottles, sherry butt 10962.
Nose - Sweet still but balanced and structured. I don't think we'll have the same problems with this as the last two. Toasted marshmallows, Hovis biscuits, lighter fluid and chocolate. Total crayons. I love it.
Body - Complete. Cherry compote, sherry vinegar, orange matchmakers.
Finish - Medium, slightly spikey, classic sherry. Then oranges all the way down - kumquat, blood orange, fresh orange juice.
Despite being somewhat hard to drink, it's technically fabulous. It's the Glenburgie inverted. I wish I'd saved enough to mix the two.
150 bottles, sherry cask.
Nose - Sweet, dark, oily and somehow fresh. It's that Islay dustiness. Why am I smelling hop oils? This has that fantastic "light seasoning" of peat that Highland Park does - as with hops, sometimes less is more and this is making me think of a significantly older Islay whisky.
Body - Seaside rock, mint toffee and white chocolate. Very clear Vimto. God this is good to drink.
Finish - Persistent tannins against the blackcurrant. Numbing and very drinkable. Chalky at the end.
This makes me feel younger and the whisky older. That's the best combination.
They know how to pick them at Green Welly!
October 2005 - February 2016
Body - The initial delivery is super-smooth; sweet, clean, chalky fruit, boiled sweets and midget gems. The tannins build a the back of your tongue.
Finish - Toffee and licked charred wood, but always velvety. The cabbage raises its head again but it's fleeting.
Like a late-twenties Bowmore, this has that velvet, alien, svelte arrival, but it doesn't have the complexity or maturity to back it up. And the cabbage is a concern.
Another good year so far at Douglas Laing – thanks!