The Rock Oyster is the Islands entry in the Regional Malts series from Douglas Laing. With the island whisky we are getting into an area I am most comfortable. As a west of Scotland local the islands of Scotland are places I have a romantic view of life surrounded by the sea. It brings up images of a slower pace of life where family is central to your life perhaps a little more than work and keeping corporate family when you live in a big city.
The name Rock Oyster for once is actually pretty self explanatory with the sea influence and maritime notes you can expect from these kind of malts. In fact the quote in the corporate brand story basically resolves around a quote from the director:
“If I could select just one dram to transport the Whisky enthusiast to the Islands of Scotland, it would be this Rock Oyster.”
That is basically the point of the entry series but perhaps up to this point for me they haven’t totally matched up to my expectations of the regions they represent. Like all the other entries the Rock Oyster series has a number of special releases on the open market just now. I don’t have any of them but there is a sherry edition which looks most appealing as well as an 18 year old which could offer some great depth if done right.
The core release contains a mix of malt whiskies from Jura, Arran, Talisker and Islay distilleries. That is the same list you get for any of the Rock Oyster editions but I would bet the mix of Islay distilleries changes with each special edition. They will also have to be careful not to step on the heels of the Big Peat expression which comes last and only represents Islay distilleries.
This version is bottled at 46.8% ABV which is very healthy again and as usual there is no artificial processes in the bottling of this whisky. You can pick a bottle up in the UK for as little as £35 which is in line with all the others.
Colour – lemon juice
Nose – coastal and brine soaked rags. It’s foosty and slightly sharp. Vegetal peat is noticeable and also that peppery peat of talisker.
Palate – the peat holds back to start with and some cooking apples holds court. The peat comes in later with seaweed and topsoil notes. The texture is clean and silky rather than the more viscous textures we might be used to. There are fresh notes of icing sugar and grapefruit alongside barley grain flavours
Finish – the finish is short and prickles with a few spicy and peppery notes. The peat again dominates as a subtle background note
To me this doesn’t actually portray an island whisky but actually while being a blended malt whisky it represents a good blended whisky. The fruit notes actually taste quite similar to a grain whisky which is interesting in itself.