Best of Independent Bottlers: Part 6 – A Great 1975 Ardbeg from a Great Bottler

The Douglas Laing firm needs no introductions, and while today the Old Malt Cask brand is held by Hunter Laing, it was the mainstay of the older bottlings made by the pre-division Douglas Laing Company. A bit of history: Fredrick Douglas Laing founded his independent whisky bottling company in 1948, and raised his two sons, Fred and Stewart, to run the business. Over disagreement over the place of the third generation Laings (Fred’s daughter Cara and Stewart’s sons, Scott and Andrew) in the family business, the company was amicably divided, with each of the brothers taking half the stock and half of the brands built up by the company.

The Laing Brothers Photo Credit:

The Laing Brothers
Photo Credit:

Thus, this bottle actually reflects on both Laing companies equally, as it is the same type of stock you’ll find in Hunter Laing’s Old Malt Cask labels or in Douglas Laing’s Old Particular label.

This 1975 Ardbeg came from a sherry cask, bottled at 50% in 2002 and really deserves to go into the top rung of complex whiskys. While not as peated as current OBs (makes sense, of course, after 27 years in a cask and the fact that 1975 was the first year in which the distillery used non distillery malted barley), the peat is there with a lot of the sherry influence.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Ardbeg Distilled March 1975, Bottled October 2002, Yield 198 Bottles (50% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Deep Bronze with slow legs.

Nose: Soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, cigar box wood, unlit firewood, snuff, a light whiff of smoke. This is a very harmonious nose. A few drops of water bring out more of the sherry.

Palate: Tar, old bread, cigar smoke, sandalwood, sherry sweetness in a mouth drying delivery.

Linger: Gentle peat and sweetness, with pepper and chewed clove in a very long and dry finish.


This was a very fitting dram with which to end day 2. The linger here goes on forever and ever, and that touch of gentle peat within the sweetness of

It’s a shame we had to leave the room, as I could have spent quite a bit more time on this dram, and I’m sure it would have more to tell. Surprisingly, it seems that the Whisky Exchange still has one for sale, if you have and extra £999 laying around.

This concludes the series on this outstanding masterclass on independent bottlers.


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