Tag Archives: Douglas Laing

Brora 35

Midlands Whisky Festival March 2014 – A Day in Pictures

Brora 35

Our first stop was at Diageo’s stand to catch up with Colin Dunn. It also provided an opportunity to try the Brora 35 Special Release from 2013. The dram had everything we had hoped for; amazing depth and complexity wrapped in a swirl of smoke. We’ve now tried almost all of the Special Releases from last year, and for me, this is the star.

Colin and Chris

It was great to have a chat with Colin (Diageo) and Chris (Compass Box) throughout the day. Two of the nicest guys in the industry.

Caol Ila 12

It’s been a while since I’ve had the Caol Ila 12 so it was time to go back and reacquaint myself with it. For Mike, this is where it all started, and this is a whisky that still punches well above its weight and takes you over the sea to Islay.

Lucas with the Old Pultney 1990

The Midlands Whisky Festival had all of the right people there. We caught up with Lucas and tasted, for the first time, the peated Old Pulteney from 1990. Unusually the spirit isn’t peated, with the peat instead coming from maturation in a variety of Islay casks. This is a fabulous dram, and one of the days highlights.

Balblair 1983

Mike and I are both big fans of Balblair and it was fantastic to try the 1983 vintage again. Full of tropical fruits and spice this is a great whisky.

Glenfarclas Port Cask

One of the days dream drams. This Glenfarclas has been matured in Port Casks for 31 years and provided a perfect accompaniment to lunch as it afforded the opportunity to sit down and savour the whisky

Chocolate and Whisky Pairing

We were thrilled to be able to make Miss Whisky’s chocolate and whisky pairing class. Up for tasting was Tamdhu 10, Balblair 2003, Aberlour 16 (double matured), Balvenie Carribean Cask, and Bowmore 12 – all matched with different chocolate.

Alwynne leading the troops

Alwynne led the session enthusiastically and knowledgeably. Each whisky was expertly matched with a different chocolate designed to bring our different characteristics of both the spirit and the chocolate. One of the most interesting combinations was the Balblair 2003 and the Marou (a 78% chocolate from Vietnam). The chocolate lit up the whisky really enhancing the vanilla notes and bringing out almonds and spices.


All of the chocolate was from the Chocolate Trading Company and it was really interesting that all the bars were ‘proper’ chocolate. And what I mean by that is that there was no flavoured chocolate in the tasting – just good quality bars that matched the whisky.

Learning about chocolate and whisky

Alwynne leading the way!

Exceptional Chocolate

The final pairing featured this chocolate from Madagascar. The chocolate itself contained coco nibs (this is what is present before the chocolate is subject to conching) and was tasted alongside the Bowmore 12. Tasting them together really highlighted the salty notes in the whisky (almost to a sea water level) and was my highlight of the class. Buy this chocolate and try it at home – you won’t be disappointed.

Whisky Notes

Studiously making notes during the class

Carn Mor Tullibardine

Tullibardine may not be at the top of everyones wish list but you should really try and seek out their cask strength stuff. Everyone I have had has been excellent, and this whisky from Carn Mor was no different. It was very savoury neat, but once a drop of water was added it turned very sweet and was almost icing sugar like in taste. Sadly, despite being bottled only 6 weeks ago it has completely sold out!

40 Year Old Teaninich

This was a real treat; Teaninich is a whisky I first discovered through Compass Box who use it in crafting some of their famous whiskies, but this is one of the first I have tried as a single malt. Despite being aged for 40 years this was a fresh, light and zingy dram with minimal effects from the wood.

Flaming Heart

No whisky show would be complete without a visit to Compass Box and it was a real surprise to find that they had Flaming Heart on the stand. I love this whisky; that combination of peat smoke and Chinese five spice just gets me; its a dram that makes me smile – what more could you want?


Octomore – the peatiest whisky in the world and oh so much more that peat. The depth and complexity is astounding, and its probably time I bought another bottle!

2 Year Old Octomore

This was a special Bruichladdich. Two year old Octomore from fresh oak. The cask previously contained Bruichladdich and had now been filled with Octomore Spirit. While you could taste the youth in this – there was a new make tint to it; I would have bought it if it was on sale. It may not be whisky yet, but it is shaping up to be something special.

Old Particular Bladnoch 21

Our final stand of the day was Douglas Laing. This Old Particular Bladnoch was lovely; really fruity and jammy with a good dose of spice.

Old Particular Bowmore 25

My final dream dram token was used on this Bowmore 25. It is a dram I have tasted before and previously I have found it a touch too floral for my liking. At the festival though it hit the spot – a great end to another fabulous show! 

Islay Ferry and Port Ellen Lighthouse

An Islay evening with Douglas Laing

Our friends at Douglas Laing know us well – not only did they send us a fabulous little collection of whisky from their Provenance range.. they sent us an exclusively Islay parcel of whiskies from their Provenance range! After being at the Feis Ile this year we’ve grown accustomed to drinking the lovely peaty stuff in the summer sun and so the recent arrival of the British summer provided an opportunity to dig out the shorts, the festival glasses and imagine the view from our humble Birmingham abodes was really the expanse of  Loch Indaal!

Douglas Laing had kindly sent us a sample of the recent launched Big Peat Small Batch (which is reviewed elsewhere on this site) and three single malts; one each from Caol Ila, Bowmore, and Laphroaig. Alongside a photo of each location from our recent trip, here are our thoughts on some really interesting Islay spirits.

Douglas Laing Provenance Caol Ila (Young & Feisty) [46%]
A lovely Caol Ila that is perfect for this time of year! Reminded us of a summers day on the Isle of Islay.
Nose: Lots of woodsmoke and damp grass. Liquorice and aniseed comes through intensely before we experienced some more maritime notes
Palate: Light and summery with enough smoke and peat to remind you of Caol Ila. Heavy on the lavender before the delights of a salty seafood barbecue hit the senses
Finish: Long and salty as the smoke fades away

Caol Ila Distillery

Caol Ila Distillery

Douglas Laing Provenance Bowmore 10 [46%]
Sadly I found this whisky a bit too floral and fragrant for my taste, preferring the power of the earlier Caol Ila. If you are looking for peat and smoke then I’d consider the Caol Ila or Laphroaig. If you enjoy the more perfume-y Islay’s then this may well be up your street!
Nose: Quite savoury and floral (reminded me of slightly overcooked rosemary). Lots of damp warehouse notes wrapped in a smoked chocolate bar.
Palate: Again very floral – think summer meadows in full bloom. Sweet and sugary with a definite menthol edge
Finish: Long and sweet

The door of legends

The door of legends

Douglas Laing Provenance Laphroaig 10 [46%]
Laphroaig was the whisky that started it all for me [Jon] and this is another beautiful Laphroaig that shows off the quality of the distillery. No messing around just a fabulous 10 year old whisky that is well worth checking out.
Nose: Soft and malty with a lovely creamy and vanilla scent. Over time is became more sterile and medicinal and smelt like peaty cough sweets (now there’s an idea!)
Palate: Sweet peat. This whisky tastes very raw and natural and benefits hugely from this. Lovely amount of spice and smoke.
Finish: Peppery, drying, long

Enjoying the whisky at Laphroaig

Enjoying the whisky at Laphroaig

All in all we had a fantastic night sampling these whiskies. The favourite of the evening was the Laphroaig – it was intensely raw, almost like you could taste the constituent parts and it was very different to the distillery 10 year old so is well worth investigating for that something a little bit different!

Thanks are due to Douglas Laing – we really can’t wait to see what you release next. Please do keep up the fabulous work!