Tag Archives: Laphroaig

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!

Lagavulin Distillery

Feis Ile 2013 Day Six

Day six of the festival was supposed to be light on the whisky; a mini detox if you like before the spoils of Friday hit us. Lagavulin had other plans though. As you know we missed out on Lagavulin’s day through travelling up to Scotland so we jumped at the chance to take part in a warehouse tasting with the legend that is Iain McArthur. We arrived at the distillery and were led down to the warehouse by Iain who as usual was entertaining us with jokes and stories along the way. The actual tasting was fabulous. Iain was on top form, he was very funny and informative and entertained everyone – he also included the now customary rubbing of whisky into the hair of people who weren’t looking at, or listening to him! The whisky at Lagavulin speaks for itself and it isn’t often that you have the opportunity to try it straight from the cask. Here then are our brief notes of a rather good morning.

Kilchoman Cask No 1

Feis Ile 2013 Day Five

Wednesday on Islay is Bowmore Day, and as fortune would have it we were staying in Bowmore so the 09:30 tour wouldn’t require a massively early start. Except that it did, as we were up and at the distillery for 07:30 to obtain a precious silver ticket that would allow us to buy a bottle of the more affordable Bowmore Feis Ile bottling. We’d arrived too late on Saturday to make the distillery so we were keen to ensure that we were able to obtain a couple of the final 300 bottles.

Feis Ile 2013 Day Four

Feis Ile 2013 Day Four

Another day, another iconic distillery!

The sun was already in full swing when we rolled into the Laphroaig distillery car park. The girls were off to a Mixxit whisky cocktails class and the boys were meeting Vicky Stevens at Laphroaig for a tasting of all 5 batches of the Laphroaig Cask Strength 10 year old. Again, it feels like Christmas!

After the obligatory 'cartwheel in front of the Laphroaig waterfront sign' photo, Vicky led us into the dunnage warehouse. It was vault-like, damp, dark and quietly oppressive. Casks, laid three high, stood motionless in a state of stasis, the magic of maturation unseen but unstoppable.

The group, a smorgasbord of nations, assembled excitedly as Vicky locked us in a poured the first dram. Soon we were nursing a healthy measure of the Cask Strength Batch 1. Hailing from 2009 this whisky was big and bold, the flavours of Laphroaig turned all the way up to 11. Batch 2 was a lot sweeter and incredibly moorish – it really was fabulous trying the whiskies in such a unique location. Vicky recounted many great tales as she expertly led us through the whiskies and the warehouse. On the top floor we were treated to Batch 3 which was back to the more traditional bourbon influence with the old style bandages and TCP scent filling the warehouse. Batches 4 and 5 (5 only recently bottled) were enjoyed as we continued our tour through warehouse 1. It was really interesting noting the temperature variations throughout the building and sampling the spirit in the very place it was distilled and matured.

After a brief pause to collect our rent we were off on a distillery tour. James talked us through each stage of the process and we enjoyed a thoroughly enjoyable stroll through the building of Laphroaig. It's great to see that every day is a school day too; we never knew that the fire under the kiln shouldn't be that hot! It should be about 30 degrees so as to smoke the barley to perfection rather than cooking it. No distillery tour would be complete without a whisky so we finished off in the filling store with a dram of Quarter Cask – perfect.

The afternoon was set up to be free of whisky so we headed off to the Big Strand which is err… a big beach facing out to the Atlantic. Gloriously long and sandy we had a great walk along the beach taking the standard jumping photos!

The evening was spent in Bowmore. After some refreshments in the Lochside hotel, our walk home was interrupted by a sprint to the pier to beat the rising tide and claim one of the final bottles of Master of Malt's That Boutique-y Whisky Company prize – but more on that tomorrow. An amazing sunset rounded the day off and that left us looking forward to Bowmore and some fun with Master of Malt on Wednesday.