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…
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.