Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tasting: Douglas Laing's Big Peat Christmas Edition 2017

Big Peat is a part of Independent Bottler Douglas Laing's Remarkable Regional Malts range. The series contains 5 blended malts, each representing its respective Scotch whisky regions, and as the name alludes Big Peat is the representative for Islay.

This year Douglas Laing added The Gauldrons, its first Campbeltown blended malt, to the range, which also includes Timorous Beastie from the Highlands, Scallywag from Speyside, The Epicurean from the Lowlands and Rock Oyster from the Islands.

Big Peat was introduced back in 2009 as a blended/vatted small batch bottling, without colouring or chill-filtration containing Whiskies, from among others, Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and the now closed Port Ellen distillery, bottled at 46%

When Big Peat was released it quickly divided the waters, and became a love it or hate it kind of blend among whisky fans. Mostly because Douglas Laing challenged they "oh so serious single malt snobs", by creating a “comic book” style label for their whisky, portraying Big Peat as a wild black bearded, big nosed, yellow sweater wearing Islay dude, and on top of that, "brought him to life" by putting him on various merchandise like sunglasses, posters and beach balls. But no one can really argue with the success that the Big Peat blend has become.

Since the original Big Peat was release, special/limited releases have followed. In 2016 Douglas Lang released their first Feis Ile edition, created in celebration of the annual Islay Festival of Music and Malt, simply known as Feis Ile. This year, Douglas Laing once again created a clever marketing strategy, and called upon "friend of Big Peat" via social media’s to submit their best Big Peat look alike photo, and the first 300 people to submit their photo, would have it printed on the tube of this year’s Feis Ile edition. If you are one of the lucky few who got their hands on a bottle, you might find this authour's ugly mug on it.

This December a 25 year old Gold Edition of Big Peat was released, as the first in a trilogy of limited editions ‘old and rare’ releases.

Another Big Peat limited edition bottling; The Christmas edition, as this review is going to focus on, was introduced in 2011, and just like so many other limited edition whiskies, quickly became a collector’s item for the herd of whisky collectors out there, and the earlier editions are now being auctioned and flipped for a not so insignificant sum of money.

Douglas Laing. Big Peat Christmas Edition. 7th release - 2017
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky.
Natural Cask Strength
Non Chill-Filtered/No added colouring

Distillery: Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore, Port Ellen and other undisclosed Islay distilleries.
Bottler: Douglas Laing
Region: Islay
Age: NAS
Proof/ABV: 54,1%
Dk price: $79USD/500dkk

Points: 84/100

Dominating peat smoke at first, followed by coal, firecracker, tar and a splash of lime and grapefruit mixed into one costal salty wave.

Creamy sweet with bread crumbs, and – goes without saying – Islay peat smoke, lemon, sea salt and an underlying taste of cinnamon.    

We finish where we started with more coal and peat smoke, and a delicious note of chocolate truffles in a long soul warming Islay hug.

Overall impression:
Big Peat’s Christmas edition isn’t an overly sophisticated dram, but it’s well balanced, highly drinkable and the cinnamon/chocolate truffles notes work wonders for my inner Christmas spirit. Hell, it’s even started to snow here, and Denmark is now covered in a fluffy white blanket and my stereo is playing The Pogues Fairytale of New York - after all, I am a child of the 80ths – so, what more is there really to desire right now? Oh, by the way, the cask strength at 54,1% drinks incredibly smooth, would defiantly be a shame to water it down.

Merry Christmas everyone. Slàinte mhath

Photos & Review By: Hasse Berg