Douglas Laing Single Minded Islay 6 Year Old

The 7th of December already and we are fairly making head way through this calendar. Whisky wednesday is a peated one again and it’s fairly young.

An interesting thing to note with peated malts is the peated smoky flavour diminishes over time. This is in the bottle as the fill level goes down but also in the barrels as it is maturing. This, I can imagine being quite a surprise to the uninformed. If you are dropping big money on a very well aged Islay expecting the same peat character from your daily 10 year old only to get something less intense you might be annoyed.

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The Brand

Today we have no distillery to discuss but an independent bottler in the form of Douglas Laing.

Douglas Laing has been in Glasgow since 1948 having been started by Fred Douglas Laing (FDL). It is still owned by the family today with Fred Hamilton Laing (Fred Jr.) and daughter Cara as directors.

Today Douglas Laing have a portfolio of brands and a large number of releases ranging over blends, single malts, single casks and grains. The stock for these products comes from three sources:

  • The open market
  • Cask owners who have bought a cask of new make and want to cash in
  • Douglas Laing’s own warehouses some of which they have matured for decades

It is this last source which makes this bottler so interesting especially for stock from now closed distilleries. One of my favourite product lines is their Old Particular line of single casks. There is always something interesting in each outturn and the latest bottle in this range I bought was this 33 year old Carsebridge single grain whisky. Which was a steal at £85 and is now sold out and going for double at auctions.

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The Dram

Being from Douglas Laing’s there is no colouring and no filtering going on here with 48.4%ABV. Big plus for the consumer who likes an honest product. This is not an easy bottle to find as it seems to be sold out in most places but it is available here  for £52.95.

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Tasting Notes

Colour –white wine

Nose – vegetation, a meaty vibrancy but no smoke

Palate (no water) – now the smoke appears and then develops to a charred ash.

Palate (water) – the ash is subdued revealing more meatiness with coconuts appearing for the first time

Finish (no water) – pepper and a fruity sweetness. No ash on the finish

Finish (water) – BBQ peppered steaks with a sweet bite at the end

Final Thoughts

When I have whisky from an unnamed Islay distillery my first assumption before trying is always Caol Ila. Being such a large producer it is a  fair bet but in this case I really don’t think it is. The palate is too meaty and the peat is too strong. I am ready and waiting to be proven wrong here but I cannot get over the idea that this is Kilchoman!

My case for this theory is as follows:

  • The price for the age suggests the cask was relatively expensive. A young Caol Ila would be bottled under the Provence range.
  • The meaty savory flavour is standard Kilchoman (or ardbeg??)
  • The peppery spice peat is standard Kilchoman
  • Six years ago Kilchoman were still selling casks of new make

I would love to know if I am right but I guess we never will know for sure. I can live with that I suppose but the bottom line here is this is a great bottle which I highly recommend.

However, if I am completely wide of the mark on my Kilchoman assertion then I will be exposed as quite the fraud!

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