New Whiskies

Batch 102

by
New whisky tasting notes Batch 102

Dave Broom begins this week with some pals of Big Peat, as he tastes the 2017 Fèis Ìle bottling. The packaging is adorned with Peat’s fans, but what of the liquid? With a balance between the sweet and the smoky, Broom is impressed.

The next whisky is a six-year-old Caol Ila which, like Big Peat, was bottled by Douglas Laing for the 2017 Islay Festival – though this is considerably peatier.

A third Douglas Laing whisky follows suit in the form of an 18-year-old blended malt, with notes of cereals, citrus and sweetness.

Then it’s onto the first of three Strathmill bottlings this week, starting with a 24-year-old from indie bottler Cadenhead, whose nutty aroma leads to more floral notes on the palate.

Duncan Taylor then puts forward a 26-year-old Strathmill from its Dimensions series, oily and bursting with flavours of mulberry jam and raisins.

And to complete this week’s batch, a juicy 24-year-old Strathmill from Duncan Taylor’s Octave collection. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Big Peat’s Pals Fèis Ìle 2017 (Douglas Laing)

    Big Peat’s Pals Fèis Ìle 2017 (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Rounded with a distinct hit of argan oil, bay leaf and mint, which moves steadily in the direction of samphire. The smoke is balanced, with a light hickory-like touch, backed with mossiness and angelica. In time behind the general fresh air you pick up whiffs of lanolin and smouldering peat fire. There’s more oiliness with water, but neat is possibly the best option.

    Palate

    The peatiness is balanced well by some sweetness at the start, then come the pine woods, some ripe, dark fruits and a light spread of tarriness. Water ups the sweetness ratio but also adds more layering and an increased peppery energy towards the finish.

    Finish

    Smoke and spice. 

    Conclusion

    Well balanced and characterful. Worth grabbing.

    Right place, right time

    Waking at dawn under a dew sprinkled wool blanket. Last night’s peat fire glows gently still.

    Caol Ila 6 Years Old Provenance Fèis Ìle 2017 (Douglas Laing)

    Caol Ila 6 Years Old Provenance Fèis Ìle 2017 (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.6%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    A dry, flinty start, with the Bunsen burner aroma typical of some young peaty whiskies hanging in the background. Mineral-accented rather than phenolic; the smoke held in a cloud before slowly seeping forward. There’s a little hint of marsh gas at it develops, which is more pleasant than it might appear on paper. Peat fire ashes with water. 

    Palate

    Sweeter than the nose suggests and also considerably peatier, with the smoke carried forward on a salty wave. That sweetness offers good balance, while a pear drop element contributes a certain lift and brightness to proceedings. Water however shows some edginess and petrol. 

    Finish

    Crisp and a little chalky.

    Conclusion

    A stiffener. To be taken with a drop of water before noon.

    Right place, right time

    A Zippo lighter flares in the darkness beside the pier. ‘Fancy a clam big boy?’

    Rock Oyster 18 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Rock Oyster 18 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.8%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Gentle and lifted. There’s a slight nutty edge, then cinnamon (balls, Oddfellows) and a tiny hint of smoke before more roasted maltiness develops towards molasses, then dark chocolate. The peat turns to cigar smoke when water is added along with an intriguing mix of nori seaweed, citrus and tablet which, somehow, works.

    Palate

    Fruitily sweet to kick-off: dried apricot and peach, with a background of rich raisins. Water slims everything down, giving more focus to the flavours and adding a jag of acidity. The cereals return, along with some lemon edge before it dries.

    Finish

    The mineral edges come through more strongly. Slightly briny and dry.

    Conclusion

    A vatting of island whiskies, which could have ended up with personalities cancelling each other out. Instead, it is balanced and delicious. Recommended.

    Right place, right time

    All together now: ‘We were at the beach, everybody had matching towels, somebody went under a dock and there they saw a rock, it wasn't a rock it was a…

    Strathmill 24 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Strathmill 24 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    45.9%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Gentle with delicate nuttiness: macadamia, caramelised butter, a light grassiness, then apple pie and custard. As it develops, more scented oils come through along with brioche and a freesia note. Later a yeasty element comes through. While water adds lift, it thins as well. 

    Palate

    Clean and direct, with some verbena and a little lavender. This delicate floral element floats above the oils in the mid-palate, though it becomes dry a little too quickly. Again, water lightens things and with the loss of the textural quality it simplifies – so don’t add it. 

    Finish

    Sweet and oily when neat. Soapy with water. 

    Conclusion

    Pleasant on the nose when neat but once the anchoring softness is lost it drifts aimlessly, like a lost balloon in a breeze.

    Right place, right time

    Walking past a high-end spa. 

    Strathmill 26 Years Old (Dimensons, Duncan Taylor)

    Strathmill 26 Years Old (Dimensons, Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.9%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Bold but balanced Sherry, with sweetness (digestive biscuits) mixed with blue fruits, date, and green fig jam. The distillery’s oiliness adds roundness and sufficient identifiable character to balance what is a pretty cask-driven dram. In time, there’s a heady mix of ripe fruits and deck oil which takes charge, rather pleasantly, when water is added.

    Palate

    Rich with more raisined elements and some mulberry jam, but there’s still a fresh acidity at the back. The oils cling to the sides of the mouth, rounding out the mid-palate. It might lack complexity, but this is a generous dram which holds its own with water. In time, the tannins begin to bite. 

    Finish

    Slightly earthy, then some cedar and fruit. Long. 

    Conclusion

    While it might not have the layering or flavour development to nudge it into excellence, this is a very rewarding glass from a little-seen distillery.

    Right place, right time

    Bronzing yourself on the deck of an expensive yacht.

    Strathmill 24 Years Old (Octave, Duncan Taylor)

    Strathmill 24 Years Old (Octave, Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    The biggest (initially, anyway) of the trio and a lot fatter, with jammier fruits and more overt oakiness that brings to mind old cabinets and scented wood – and an interesting Rioja-like touch that slowly moves into strawberry jam. In time, the heaviness recedes, while with water the corn-like fatness of the distillery character comes though more clearly.

    Palate

    Sweet and thick, with quite sultry fruitiness, and some tannins on the back-palate. It holds together well with water, giving a new plumpness to proceedings, with added cereal and some tayberry as well. It just lacks depth and becomes quite dry…

    Finish

    … and indeed spicy.

    Conclusion

    A juicy enough dram, albeit one which, like the Cadenhead, just lacks length and complexity. 

    Right place, right time

    Crianza rather than Gran Reserva.

Scroll To Top