Weds, and michelle and I split off for the rest for a Douglas Laing tasting in Bowmore. Lottie safely packed off with Jim and Alice as we head down to the pier to catch the boat.
Unfortunately, time and tide wait for no man, and Douglas Laing showed themselves to be a bunch of lubbers when our boat trip was cancelled due to the fact there was not enough water for the boat to actually get to the pier. The DL team rescued the situation but hosting an excellent tasting with canapé on the benches on the pier.
I have a cold, so read everything I write with that in mind. We started on Bowmore beach with a Double Barrel, a vatting of Bowmore and Glenallachie. Floral, with oily peaty undertones on the nose.
Taste: creamy and butterscotch to start, with some peat in the middle that fades quite fast with a hint of Bowmore parma violets. Nicely bitter at the end, not particularly long. Cara Laing called it an aperitif whisky, and that is on the money. I think this vatting works well, the flavours gel. This was paired with some smoked salmon.
Next up was a Provenance Bunnahabain called young and feisty. Very salty with lots of barley, nothing complex but I liked it. It was also helped by a load of tasty oysters. I’m not convinced with the whole putting whisky on your oysters thing, but I wasn’t one to refuse.
Next, an Old Particular 21 year old Jura. As I understand it, Old Particular is the brand Douglas Laing are pushing after the split with Hunter Laing (which we were all tactful enough not to ask about), whereas Provenance is being wound down. This is just my impression, I could be wrong, but the packaging of Provenance definitely looks a little dated compared to Old Particular. This was chocolaty and rich, but I’m afraid I’m not that much of a fan of Jura, and this did nothing to change my mind. Still, it is relatively cheap at around £60, so if you are a fan I would recommend it. We had some lovely scallops with this.
An 18 year old Bowmore followed, and this was my favorite. Some light FWP to let you know its origin but also lots of peat and some body. Very long. I’d guess it costs around a £100, cant find it online.
Then it was a 25 year old Bruichladdich which Cara swiped from her father’s collection! My notes and recollection are getting ropey now, but this was light and delicate, fairly complex and pretty damn good.
Finally, an 8 year old Laphroaig. This was a lovely young Laphroaig, you know what they taste like. As an aside, what is going on at Laphroaig these days? The last three releases I’ve tasted (QA, Select and a port finish) have been hugely disappointing, and I am a massive Laphroaig fan. What has happened? I’m at a loss.
It is great to see independent bottlers running events at the festival, and this was better value and more fun than most distillery events. Douglas Laing are an interesting company to me, because I found it hard to estimate how big they are. They do not sell direct, have a high minimum order for people like us and you dont see them in supermarkets. They also no longer sell through Gordon& Macphail or the whisky exchange. So how big are they? Turns out, bigger than I thought. The year before the split they turned over £6.5 million with a very healthy profit of £1.2 million. Must do a lot of international trade!
Both this and the whiskylounge events were good and I think we might do a pack for both of their whiskies.