Nov 142016

Yula is a celebration of the traditions of the islands around Scotland, much of which is Norse. While reviewing the first Yula, the 20 year old, I brought the full story which you can read here.  I will say, however, that Yula is deeply connected to the story of the formation of the islands. The first edition was music to my palate, and I was really curious to see how it is.

In short, while a tad shyer and needing a bit of coaxing, it’s every bit as beautiful, with orange sweetness coming in and being more dominant than the grapefruit at first. The extra year in the casks definitely had an effect, and it goes beyond dropping in ABV from 52.6% to 52.3%. I can hardly wait for next October to taste the third chapter in this saga.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Douglas Laing’s Yula II – 21 Years Old Island Malt Blend, 900 Bottles (52.3% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Amber, necklace remains for a long time with a lot of residue.

Nose: Peat rises to the nose, with brine and a residue of honey. The nose is somewhat shy at first, and needs some time in the glass to open up, and looks like some water would serve it well. With time, honeysuckle blossoms are added over the briny peat. A few drops of water bring out honey candy and a hint of freshly ground nutmeg

Palate: Thick with citrus rind dissolving into peat and some orange sweetness. Bitterness and heather honey with smoke wafting through, before some spice washes over the tongue. The mouth feel is rich, and the orange sets this apart. You’ll get even more of the orange after some time and a few drop of water and then the spice is definitely white pepper with some notes of grapefruit on the back of the tongue.

Linger: WOW, this finish is stunning with light smoke on the palate, bittersweet orange rind, a residual dryness all over the mouth.


It took some time for the sample to make its way to me, so those 900 bottles are probably all sold out by now, but if you come across one, pick it up. This expression isn’t for a quick dram, it’s complex and needs time, and will reward you for investing it. Great stuff!

Official Sample provided by Douglas Laing Co. Thanks Jenny and Slainte!

Dec 052015

As my readers know, I’m intrigued by malt blends (vatted malts), and you really don’t get to see too many of them that were aged for 20 years. Douglas Laing has started a series of three very limited expressions of Island malts. This blend is made of paeated Island malts and is the first in three consecutive annual releases of the same malts, as they age in the casks.

Originally, there were supposed to be only 900 bottles of it released, but they sold out so quickly (we’d expect nothing else, as the quality of whisky coming out Fred and Cara’s blending shop is nothing short of outstanding), that the folks at Douglas Laing made some more available, and you can actually still get a bottle for Christmas.

Why Yula? Stories vary and nobody is really sure if Yula was a Norse goddess, a Danish princess or even the daughter of the King of the Giants, but the sad story has her roaming the western seas (the Atlantic Ocean) with an apron full of rocks as she was searching for adventure or love (or maybe both?), and wherever a stone fell, it became an island (namely Ireland, and many of the Hebrides, if not all of them). Legend has her being claimed by the sea at the exact location of Islay, and the remaining rocks made up the island of Islay, where she found her final resting place. Islay is said to have taken its name from Yula/Iula/Ile the drowned princess (or goddess). This legend is reflected in the striking box and label the bottle comes in.

I tasted the Yula last night, which was the first time we dropped below 10°C since last March, so a celebration was in order with this gorgeous peated malt blend…

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Douglas Laing Yula (52.6% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Amber, thin legs coming really slowly off a necklace.

Nose: Subtle peat and honey at the start. This is more coal smoke than peaty. Some lovely spice, with white pepper and nutmeg (yes, not the most common of combinations). Salt and a hint of meat on a barque, later giving way to brine and a touch of vinegar. A hint of malt is beneath all that.

Palate: YUM!! Yellow grapefruit greets the palate, with a seriously gorgeous bitterness. Light pepper, peat and tar play too with hints of honey in the background, though not by any means sweet.

Linger: Bitter on the tongue, with a hint of spice. Leaves the whole mouth tingling with grapefruit zest, giving way after some time to a hint of sweet candy, with a drying feel on the roof of the mouth.


It’s as if this whisky was designed for my palate! Bitter and peaty, and interesting and engaging at the same time.

Beautiful stuff, really! This would make a great birthday present for me 🙂 The only shame is that we’ll have to wait for the second installment…

My thanks to Douglas Laing for the official sample.