I visited Douglas Laing in Glasgow the other week. I will have a full report of the most enjoyable visit, but for today I wanted to review the Christmas edition of Big Peat, out every year for the holidays at Cask Strength. This year there were two important developments, both of which were mentioned on this blog, and yet they merit mention: First is the creation of the Remarkable Regional Malts range to incorporate the four regional malts – Big Peat, Scallywag, Timorous Beastie and Rock Oyster; the second is the addition, during 2015, of a cask strength Scallywag (reviewed here), joining the Big Peat Christmas edition in the range of limited editions, a trend I expect will be extended to other whiskies in the range.
The regular edition has become a mainstay for peat lovers (reviewed here), made of a vatting of Ardbeg, Caol Ila and Bowmore, with some Port Ellen in the blend. Incidentally, I asked Jan Beckers during my visit how many Port Ellen casks he estimates to be still in existence around the world. Obviously I didn’t get a number (and I wasn’t expecting one), but he did seem to think that it’s not going to be running out too quickly.
Either way, Big Peat is here to stay, and it’s time to dive into this year’s Christmas Edition:
Douglas Laing Big Peat Christmas Edition 2015 (53.8% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Pale gold, pretty necklace on glass releasing thin legs pretty slowly. It’s a pretty effect in the glass.
Nose: A fresh, almost “green” peat, pine needles and freshly cut pine wood, the nose very much suggests a carpenter’s workshop. The green leaves and fresh vegetation come back after the addition of a few drops of water, with fresh ground pepper and brine.
Palate: Sweet, somewhat lemony and peaty with ash, vanilla like sweetness on the palate with a numbing sensation on the back of the roof of the mouth. Slightly drying with spice becoming dominant alongside the peat.
Linger: Very sweet with bitter citrus peel notes, the peat settles in the back of the throat, and the mouth remains ashy and somewhat salty with a tingle on the inside of the cheeks. The finish is long, and that numbing sensation takes a while to abate.
This edition of the Christmas Edition highlights somewhat of a different side of the Big Peat formula. There’s something soft in it, like sitting by the fire in a new log cabin, with the pine resin still faintly noticeable. This is by no means old, but it’s very well put together with a really nice finish.
Official sample provided by Douglas Laing.