The DHL delivery guy called at 2 pm to say he was coming over with a package from the UK. My heart skipped a beat as I saw it was from Douglas Laing, as those packages always have amazing liquid inside them, but this time was extra special as there were two XOP samples inside, both extremely limited single cask editions: A 30 year old Glen Grant single refill hogshead which yielded 36 bottles (to be reviewed next), and today’s Braeval, a hogshead which produced only nine bottles, talk about scarcity….
Also today, Douglas Laing announced that the Provenance series will undergo a branding makeover, one that will bring it more inline with the Old Particular look, pulling the Douglas Laing brands closer together, complimenting a branding move made last year bringing the regional blended malt series which includes Big Peat, Timorous Beastie, Scallywag and Rock Oyster under the Remarkable Regional Malts umbrella (discussed here). In this series, Rock Oyster Cask Strength was recently announced (I’ve been waiting for the announcement of it for some months now, and will post notes on it as soon as I can get a sample to taste), and have it on good authority that a Lowlands regional blended malt will complete the lineup later this year.
The XOP series, on the other hand, is the top end of the bottlings from the extensive Douglas Laing stocks. XOP stands for Extra Old Particular, and is a rebranding of the Director’s Cut brand, with no real change of packaging, only of the logo. I’ve had several Director’s Cut/XOP bottlings, and they have all been truly excellent, so I expect these two to be no different.
Braeval is a Speyside distillery owned by Chivas Brothers, now under Pernod Ricard, but back when this whisky was distilled it was owned by Seagram’s. It looks very quaint, but was built, in fact, in 1978. The distillery was mothballed from 2002 through half of 2008. The fermentation is comparatively long (70 hours), and produces a light and floral spirit.
How is it?
Braeval 1990 – 25 Year Old – Douglas Laing XOP, Refill Hogshead #DL11008 distilled 5.1990, Bottled 12.2015 (57.3% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Amber with very slow legs peeling reluctantly off a necklace.
Nose: Very concentrated vanilla, oak, a deep honey, hints of dry hay and some floral notes hitting after a short rest in the glass. Behind is a hint of white pepper and a touch of a dry white wine.
Water makes the nose sweeter, with more of the honey coming through.
Palate: This is not a whisky for sipping without adding water, and you’ll find it very tannic and spicy, with yellow grapefruit on the palate. Water brings out quite a lot of the tannins, and the spice and has a lot of fresh grapefruit in it. Bitter and dry, what more can you ask for?
Linger: without water it’s very long and citrusy on the tongue, with a slight bitterness and dryness. Quite a bit of oak comes through on the neat finish, and a hint of that white pepper. You’ll also get the citrus in there.
With water, the linger gets even longer, with dominant grapefruit and oak, together with a peppery overtone.
This dram is not for the faint of heart, but if – like me – bitter and dry whisky is your thing, boy are you in for a treat.
The wood in this expression is gorgeous and the spice works really well with the bitter citrus on the palate.
There are only 9 bottles of this expression available and if you like a woodsy profile to your whisky and are looking for a premium bottle, you’ll want to get one of these.