I’m tasting all manner of vatted malts for a feature post, and received three samples from Douglas Laing: Two Double Barrel expressions (Ardbeg & Aultmore and Caol Ila & Tamdhu) and a sample of Big Peat. The Big Peat sample will be tasted with some other Islay vatted malts, but I don’t have to wait to try these intriguing combinations.
While a traditional vatted malt will have several malts, looking to combine into something else – usually moving each individual single malt to the background, the blenders at Douglas Laing took a very different approach. Two single malts, of very different characters combined to give you an interplay between these two distinct malts.
Ardbeg is a well known peaty Islay whisky and Aultmore is a Speyside distillery owned by Dewar’s (Bacardi) and producing whisky for blending. I have recently tasted an Aultmore, but it was a single barrel SMWS sherry bomb, so I won’t draw my notes from that tasting, but the whisky is basically floral and fruity – and these notes come out in the blend. The concept is interesting, the blending is good – as one would expect from such a reputable company, and I still have the Caol Ila & Tamdhu to look forward to later this week.
Douglas Laing Double Barrel Ardbeg & Aultmore (46% ABV, NCF, NC)
Color: Dark Straw, thin and quick legs
Nose: Powerful peat overpowering at first, but there’s something subdued about it, despite the robust peat. Underneath it come melon and red apple. I left the glass on the table for about 10 minutes, and nosed it without agitating the liquid and got a whole lot more of the Aultmore fruity character with the addition of cookie dough, graham crackers and sweet confections.
Palate: Comes in stinging on the tongue, with a spirited and young feel. There is a real interplay between the fruit and the peat, and between sweet, bitter and smoky notes.
Linger: Very short with gentle peat and a sweetness left on the sides of the tongue. Underneath the smoky finish lies grapefruit peel.
Small note: My son, who doesn’t like peated whisky and prefers sweeter Speysiders, took a sip of this one and came back for more saying “it’s peaty but it’s good”….
My thanks to Cara at Douglas Laing for the official sample.