Timorous Beastie: The 21 and 40 Going Head to Head – Douglas Laing

I really like the direction Douglas Laing is going with the Remarkable Regional Malts line. The vatted malt (blended malt, if I must) line now encompasses five out of the six regions (missing only Campbeltown, which could be interesting with the variety of styles coming out the three distilleries in the town), and has expanded to include cask strength editions of Islay’s Big Peat (ok, this isn’t really new, as the Christmas edition started in 2011), two editions of the Speyside Scallywag cask strength versions, a (hopefully first of a regular release) cask strength edition of the excellent Rock Oyster and now a premium age stated edition of the Highlands Timorous Beastie in both a full cask strength 40 year old and in a 21 year old. This opens the door to a whole new line of premium editions of older malt blends from different regions (think just of all the closed Lowlands distilleries that could participate in an Epicurean 40, or the amazing maritime balance that could be struck with a 25 year old Rock Oyster).

The regular Timorous Beastie (reviewed here) is composed of Glen Garioch, Glengoyne and Dalmore. I tried to find out what distilleries took part in these two expressions, but my quest was foiled as the recipe for these expressions is not being disclosed. Jan did tell me, though, that these expressions are not simply older casks of the same three distilleries, so your guess is as good as mine. Whatever is in there, darn, that’s good whisky!

We’ll begin with a quick reminder of the standard Timorous Beastie notes:

Douglas Laing Timorous Beastie Highland Malt (46.8% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Pale gold, thin legs dropping slowly.

Nose: Honey and salt are the first things to reach the nose. Somewhat maritime, with a layer of spice right under that first sweet brine with cinnamon and baked clove, malty cereal and the lightest sour note. Time brings out something earthy and

Palate: Sweet honey with notes of citrus, the full body is almost chewy, this is an easy sipper and is very gentle. You could easily lose count of how much you drank of this.

Linger: Very gentle spice warms the mouth, especially on the top of the palate, with some lingering sweetness and the lightest hint of citrus on the tongue. There’s not too much going on in the finish here, but it leaves a pleasant flavor in the mouth.

On to the detailed notes for the 21 and the 40:

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com


Timorous Beastie 21 Year Old (46.8% ABV) Timorous Beastie 40 Year Old (54.7% ABV)

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Copper, very thin legs off a viscous necklace. Color Amber, extremely sturdy necklace, with very thin legs.
Golden honey, fresh sherry, ripe red apples and a hint of nutmeg. Honey dew (green melon) and raisin wine.

With time in the glass, an older dusty sherry reveals itself and takes over.

Nose Cinnamon buns baking in the oven, light floral notes, hint of oak, freshly ground cinnamon, and a hit of lemon. There’s the faintest chalky note with honey and a hit of after eight chocolate mints and tobacco.
Sweet hit, spicy on the tongue with fresh ground black pepper, thick and viscous, with the spice really dominant. Palate Dry and floral (as much as that can be a flavor), with honey and some vanilla custard. There’s a peppery hit mixed with clove – as spicy as the 21, but it’s more wood spice than pepper and a hint of baked apple in cinnamon.
Dry high up on the back of the mouth, spicy on the gullet and tongue with a chalky feel left in the mouth. The linger is pretty long. Finish Sweet on the tongue with a hit of spice, very dry, with a cerealy feel and a chalky dryness on the top of the mouth. After a minute or two, some oak settles on the tongue. The pepper will go with you for a long time.
This dram has a glorious nose with fresh and old playing a hide and go seek game.

The palate is all spice as is the linger.

Conclusion  Significantly older on the nose, with dryer elements. Just as spicy on the palate and linger, but the spice leans more toward wood spices, and some oak.

Final Thoughts

Vatted malts give the blender an incredible latitude of freedom, and in both these Highland malts a clear profile of a relatively complex though gentle nose and strong spicy palate was chosen, far more than the spice on the palate of the regular Timorous Beastie. Both are extremely well crafted. I’m not sure you can still get the 40 year old, but the 21 is still around here and there, and if you do come across a bottle, you’ll definitely want to pick up a bottle. I admit to being more than a little curious about what’s in the recipe for each expression, but that’s information that I just couldn’t come by….next time 😉

Doing this tasting head to head was an absolute pleasure, and I thank Jan Beckers and the Douglas Laing team for the official samples.


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