Thursday, 22 December 2016

Douglas Laing Grains

This was a tweet tasting that Douglas Laing, in typical fashion, really pushed the boat out on with the packaging and samples – four grains with matching (and very posh) confectionary.  I don't really hold with whisky pairings but somehow this was more special.  Grains seem to go very well with pastry and sweets and these were very good grains and very good sweets!

Unfortunately I had to miss the actual tasting due to work and life getting in the way (as seems to be the case with all tweet tastings recently, I very sadly had to miss the Balcones one this week to a wedding on a Monday!) but that means I put my effort into writing these notes later and without distraction.

Old Particular, Lomond Grain, 19 years old, 51.5% A+

Refill hogshead DL11184

loch-lomond-19-year-old-1996-cask-11184-old-particular-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Beautifully sweet, sharp and cakey, with men's perfume, icing sugar, orange squash and weirdly, on exhale, the sweet crust of a slow roasted lamb shoulder. The wood here is perfect, after sipping there's almost liquorice, with warm radiator and beeswax. Really compelling.

Body - Great balance of robust grain and really rich, fatty banana fudge. Simple but just delicious to drink.

Finish - Medium long with soft vanilla oils throughout.

A really lovely character to this easy drinking but structured grain, I'd happily settle into a bottle of this.

With "mini Christmas cakes" - incorrectly. The two certainly play off each other nicely, I think the cake is enhanced by the whisky, but the whisky is better on its own. Excellent eating experience though!

Old Particular, Cambus, 24 years old, 51.5% A+

Refill hogshead DL1172

cambus-24-year-old-1991-cask-11172-old-particular-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Bright with green apples, candy cigarettes and fruit polos. More perfumed than the Lomond (and more complex, mature cask) but with a sweeter, fudgier note. It is also lovely, this year really has been a good year for grains! With time there's something like toilet freshener (in a good way), and warm dessert wine. There is a good funk on the nose here too - big fat crayons and buttercream icing. Better with water; more fruit, more wax.

Body - Lots of apples in the delivery, really creamy, slightly odd, like Cajeta (goats milk caramel) on crackers.

Finish - Quite short, slightly mini-milky, I'm back with the fruit polos.

Another great drinker. Slightly more interest to it but a little less robust.

With "crème brulee chocolate cups" (which are f'ing delicious), the apple notes of the whisky become the backbone of the intensely creamy chocolates - the chocolate wins on the finish but the whisky ties the whole thing together.

These cup things are superb with peated whisky too, there's a delicious crunch that really goes well with them - where can I buy these!

Xtra Old Particular, Garnheath, 42 years old, 44.5% A⊕+

Refill barrel DL11209.  Another one of these over 40 Garnheaths!

garnheath-42-year-old-1974-cask-11209-xtra-old-particular-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Dark and winey, with red cherries and big, deep waxes. Quite a step up from the Cambus, this has blood orange, furniture polish, royal icing, black forest gateaux, stewed red peppers in red wine and the general demeanour of a properly important whisky. The grain character is a bit of a footnote here - dried fruit, earth, cut flowers and cask are centre stage.

Body - Big and ripe - bright red lipstick, chupa chups and now the grain comes to balance things out - slightly sour yellow oak, a new ream of printer paper, candy cigarettes.

Finish - Medium, more paper, a hint of fly paper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

I didn't get to add water to this one. Big and bold on the nose, hard but interesting grain on the delivery. Delicious.

With "spiced Christmas fudge" - incorrectly. This works amazingly, it makes the fudge taste like chocolate. And it removes all the paper and makes the whisky taste almost sherried. I bet the tiny Christmas cake would have been even better though!

Xtra Old Particular, Invergordon, 50 years old, 49.7% A⊕⊕

Refill hogshead DL11182.  Douglas Laing really know how to knock it out of the park. 

invergordon-50-year-old-1966-cask-11182-xtra-old-particular-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Less exciting on the nose than the Garnheath (more restrained), but fresher and with an even more complex style. More plastics, more plasticine, more clay. Overripe, browning apple, roasted pineapple and melted crayons.

Body - Ah… that is enormous. The pineapple comes first, then pancakes with maple syrup, then light peat and bananas.

Finish - Very long, very fruity. Extremely drying too. Waxes and floral notes keep trying to peak out from the cask but they're overpowered by tannins and wood (in a delicious, highly compelling way). This is a finish that speaks directly to your hind-brain. Your hind-brain wants another sip.

An extraordinarily compelling whisky, excitingly pitched with a real peat hit about it. I love it.

With "barley sugars and christmas flavoured hard candies" - I went with the barley sugar. Which is remarkable for some reason I can't quite fathom - it's a simple block of almost pure sugar, but has real complexity (slightly medicinal, woody). Where do you get incredible sweets like this? Anyway, with the whisky, it's almost pornographic on the nose - this is most unexpected - I probably should keep this to myself. Much, much younger on the delivery with this weird, austere, simple/complex sweet in my mouth. Makes me feel younger!

An unexpectedly fascinating and exciting whisky pairing and some great whiskies here.  I would recommend the Lomond and the Invergordon if you can push the boat out to it. 

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