Talisker 8 year 2009 48.4% (Old Particular)

Last in my Old Particular trio is a complete shift in character to the Isle of Skye with the peaty Talisker. Though technically part of their “Highland” region bottles, it is also an “Island” distillery.

Talisker 8 Year Old 2009 (cask 12578) 48.4%

  • Nose – Mmmm smoked meats, juicy fruits with a bit of brine
  • Palate – A nice smokey burn, touch of ash, a dash of sugary sweet
  • Finish – Cinnamon, then a nice campfire finish

It has been awhile since I’ve had a Talisker… and I gotta admit it hit the spot. Peat and sweet, nothing complicated but well balanced and just… worked. In truth, it disappeared too soon – always a good sign!

As for tasting notes? Here is what the chaps over at Master of Malt had to say:

Part of Douglas Laing’s Old Particular series, this expression from Talisker was distilled in 2009 and bottled at 48.4% ABV, after 8 years of maturing in a refill hogshead. It is one of only 378 bottles produced. Of course, this whisky was bottled without colouring or chill-filtration..

  • Nose: Complex warming phenols alongside intense seaweed notes.
  • Palate: Both sweet and salty, maritime flavours are joined by slightly ashy notes and a touch of brown sugar.
  • Finish: Distinctly sooty on the finish, balancing by subtle sugar sweetness.

Would I agree? Overall yes!

And what about previous brushes with Talisker?

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Mortlach 10 year 2009 48.4% (Old Particular)

Next in my Old Particular trio is a Mortlach from their ‘regions’ series – from Speyside. I will admit it has been some time since I settled down with a Mortlach. I’ve had some quite lovely independent bottles (including a 37 year old!) and a rather disappointing official bottling – primarily due to its price. I was curious to see what this one from Douglas Laing delivered…

Mortlach 10 Year Old 2009 (cask 13061) 48.4%

  • Nose – Pears and orchard fruits, juicy and fruity, ripe sour cherries, lemon curd
  • Palate – A bit of chilli spice, dark fruits, reminded me a bit of cinnamon rolls, malty
  • Finish – Again back to a spice chaser, warming
  • Water – Don’t mind if I do! opens it up nicely, balanced it

In truth, I wish I had more than a small sample as it needed time and a splash of water to open up.

As for tasting notes? Here is what the folks over at Master of Malt had to say:

A single cask single malt from the Beast of Dufftown (AKA Mortlach), distilled back in March 2009 and left in a refill hogshead to mature. It was bottled 10 years later in March 2019 by Douglas Laing for the Old Particular series, with just 167 bottles produced at 48.4% ABV.

  • Nose: Strawberry laces, Portuguese tarts and cereal with milk.
  • Palate: Barley sugar and cinnamon butter, leading into syrup sponge and orange marmalade.
  • Finish: Toasty oak and more baking spice, with a hint of porridge.

And what about previous brushes with Mortlach?

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Jura 12 year (2006) 48.4% (Old Particular)

I found myself in the mood for something uncomplicated… a dram to ease into an evening of sampling… The obvious choice from the Old Particular trio was to start with the Jura. From Jura Island, the distillery style tends towards lighter whiskies intended to support a blend. However more recently, there has been subtle peat added to the equation.

Jura 12 Year Old 2006 (cask 12966) 48.4% – Old Particular (Douglas Laing)

  • Nose – Cereal, butter biscuits or lemon curd cookies – a bit of sour, yet some citrus and sweet
  • Palate – A bit more substance than anticipated, can see the wood influence with a hint of bitterness, a bit salty… like lightly salted nuts and raisins.. is that a hint of toast?
  • Finish – Light spice, that nutty bitterness continued

Overall it hit the spot for something not too sweet, straight forward and a way of kicking off a tasting trio.

As for tasting notes? Here is what the chaps over at Master of Malt had to say:

12 year old single malt from the Jura distillery, named after the island it resides on. This whisky was distilled in December 2006 and allowed to age in a refill hogshead for 12 years, then bottled in December 2018 by Douglas Laing for the Old Particular range. Only 357 bottles were produced.

  • Nose: Custard Cream biscuits, dried lemon and grapefruit peel, a hint of salted peanuts.
  • Palate: Soft oak and smoke appears up front, followed by citrus once again and sultanas.
  • Finish: Almond pastries, coriander and caramel.

Would I agree? More or less…

And what about previous brushes with Jura?

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Old Particular Trio – Jura, Mortlach, Talisker

Ahh…. time to bring back the minis! Sample a wee trio or quartet – preferably from an independent bottler or with some kind of cohesive theme.

Enter my Drinks by the Drams Single Cask advent calendar from 2018 – bought as a ‘welcome’ present for my new home in Germany – back in October 2019!

Yes… I realize it is already 2021… but who says you need to crack things open immediately? Some could argue patience is a virtue!

However what it does mean is that the exact cask I sampled is likely long ago sold out or only available via auction.

That said, the bottler – in this case a trio from Old Particular from Douglas Laing – is very much bottling other single casks for your current sampling pleasure.

So what did I select?

This particular range focuses on single casks – bottled not at the typical “Connoisseur’s” strength of 46% but 48.4%.

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Minis – Dailuaine 10 year 46%

Deprived of whisky festivals and tasting events, online versions aplenty have sprouted up all over the place!

As for our three whisky tasting groups based in Mumbai? We’ve also switched to catching up virtually… which enables me sitting here in Nurnberg to have an opportunity connect too.

Truth be told, our Bombay Malt & Cigar group is a rather international lot. As things started to shut down, one member was in his UK home, another in Belgium, of course I’m here in Germany, leaving only two anchoring our Mumbai presence. With the booze shops in India firmly shut, supplies dwindled.

So what did our gents chose to accompany their cigars? We had a Glenlivet 12 year, Glenfiddich 18 year and Bowmore 100 proof… and me? What did I select? In our last gathering I cracked open a big bottle so this time was more sensible and went for a mini…

Dailuaine 10 year 46% (Douglas Laing’s Provenance) 

  • Colour – Like a pale white wine, almost without any colour
  • Nose – Mmmm apple sauce, then a bit salty, sweet, reminded me of sesame snaps, then revealed a copper quality, a bit vegetal, sweet hay, then saline and leafy, increasingly woodsy, even a bit toast, sour mash then back to butterscotch cream
  • Palate – Cooked fruit and cream, malty, barley… it continued to evolve, nice and oily,  shifting between sweet and a hint of bitter, chased by light pipe tobacco
  • Finish – A nice spicy zing, ginger, cloves and cinnamon with a bit of bitter bark and more of that slightly metallic twang with a touch of minerals too

There was enough going on here for it to be interesting yet was somehow personable too.

I tried to find out more – checking the options on Master of Malt to see what might be a likely candidate for inclusion in the advent calendar.

I can’t say for sure, but think what I tried may be from Cask 11618… If correct, the folks at Master of Malt have this to say:

A single cask bottling of Dailuaine single malt, independently bottled by those ever-wonderful Douglas Laing folks. This whisky was distilled by Dailuaine back in January 2007 and left to age in a refill hogshead for 10 years. In February 2017, it was bottled as part of the Provenance range with an outturn of 357 bottles.

  • Nose: Oily malt balanced by gristy sweetness, followed by a touch of heather honey.
  • Palate: Buttered bread, fresh ginger, sliced apple and a subtle hint of toasted barley smokiness.
  • Finish: Mineral hints linger on the finish.

The other option could be Cask 11777 (Mar 2007 / May 2017) however the tasting notes don’t jibe and specifically miss the clear mineral qualities found in the one I sampled.

Either way, you can find a cousin of this bottle in Europe for around EUR 45. Quite reasonable for a decent dram….

Here are a few others I tried from my advent calendar minis:

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Douglas Laing’s Lowland Blend Epicurean 46.2%

Last in our Douglas Laing’s Remarkable Regions blends was Epicurean from the Lowlands

Douglas Laing Epicurean 46.2%

  • Nose – Yheasty, butter caramel, slightly raw, herbal, sour peaches, basil, almonds, quite tangy with tamarind, puckering citrus, almond face oil, the peaches quality became increasingly pronounced from raw to steamed to canned peaches
  • Palate – Sweet almond paste, spice, cinnamon, bitter, burnt citrus
  • Finish – Quite nutty, light sweet and lingers, rubber, coffee
  • Water – Initially brought out honey then dissipated almost immediately

For many this was a favourite of the Douglas Laing trio… for others the salty quality of Rock Oyster was a welcome departure. What we can say is the Epicurean paired rather well with a cigar.

Here’s what they have to say:

Douglas Laing’s The Epicurean Lowland Malt Scotch Whisky tells the story of a 1930s Glasgow man, a real cheeky chappy who was ever the life and soul of the party, and a real connoisseur of fine food and drink. A dram we describe as “city born and bred”, The Epicurean is a blend of some of the finest Lowland Malts; a marriage of the best that the East and the West of Scotland have to offer. This small batch bottling is proudly without colouring or chill-filtration and bottled at 46.2% ABV.

Tasting notes:

  • Nose – In a tipple of our Small Batch “The Epicurean”, you can bet on a nose that is barley-rich, citric, floral and herbal.
  • Palate – The mouth-coatingly sweet palate displays crunched sugar, burnt citrus, mixed spices, thyme, peaches and hard candy…
  • Finish – All charmingly underpinned and enriched in the finish with more of that earlier herbal character, in a gristy style with almonds, cut grass and burnt sugar.

Photo: Nikoulina Berg

What were the whisky blends explored?

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Douglas Laing’s Island Blend Rock Oyster Cask Strength 57.4%

Our Douglas Laing’s Remarkable Regional Malts explorations continued with the Island blend… this time from the Cask Strength edition.

Rock Oyster Cask Strength 57.4%

  • Nose – Had a similar yoghurt quality, yet with more character and oomph! than the Timorous Beastie, zest of lemon rind, barley, young, mild yet fruity – particularly melon, some smoked sweet bacon or other sweet meats, agave then quite a bit of brine
  • Palate – Nice spice, sweet, skirting on the surface, amazingly balanced, nothing harsh, a hint of pipe tobacco, honey, cherry bokum pickle, ginger, briney
  • Finish – Nice long finish, salted caramel, cinnamon, sawdust, for some too salty on the finish for many
  • Water – Opens up more, removes the edge, salty, adds a dash of cayenne, paprika, makes it smoother

There was a sense that this is from a similar ‘family’ as the Timorous Beastie however also had its unique variation, like siblings.

Many found Rock Oyster just like one would expect from the name, salty raw oysters, the feel of being on a boat, the distinctive pervasive smell of barnacles, a tidal pool of salty whisky.

At cask strength, it is also very deceptive, giving no hint of the power behind its smooth briney swish.

There was a clear divide between those who enjoy salty whiskies and those who do not care for this maritime style.

Here’s what they have to say:

Introducing Douglas Laing’s Rock Oyster Cask Strength; the super-charged partner to the original Rock Oyster bottled at 57.4% ABV. Containing the finest Malt Whiskies from Scotland’s Whisky Islands, including those distilled on Islay, Arran, Orkney and Jura, this Limited Edition delivers a massive amplification of all those coastal qualities from the original Rock Oyster.

Tasting notes:

Anticipate a blast of sea air on the nose and a tempestuously oceanic storm on the palate. Rock Oyster Cask Strength delivers a big peat hit full of Islay phenols, iodine and coal dust, with a shake of pepper softening to a distinct honey sweetness from the Arran casks. The Isle of Jura brings waves of citrus and barley to the mix, and Orkney fetches up some salt from the deep.

Photo: Nikoulina Berg

What were the whisky blends explored?

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Douglas Laing’s Highland Blend Timorous Beastie 46.8%

With their inventive packaging, having a sense of whimsy, play and days of yore, the “Remarkable Regional Malts” series explores the five different regions of Scotland.

We began with Douglas Laing’s Highland blend …

Timorous Beastie 46.8%

  • Nose – Fruity, yoghurt, an agave-like quality, raw, barley mash, spice, light cream, caramel, baby puke, yeasty, honey sweet
  • Palate – Spice burn, a few remarked “tastes better than it smells”, quite peppery with more alcohol ‘beastie’ than timidity
  • Finish – Sharp, short, bitter

There was a mixed reaction to this one. The agave like aroma was akin to the “morning after an overindulgence of tequila”… Another found this was “something to be used for cleaning like solvent.” Yet another quipped “The rat is there on the label for a reason!”

While not horrifically bad, it was a bit like having peppery tequila.

Here’s what they have to say:

Douglas Laing’s Timorous Beastie, immortalised in Robert Burns’ famous Scots poem “To a Mouse”, was a timid, little field mouse. Echoing our national bard’s wit, ours is most certainly not for the fainthearted! This non coloured, non-chill-filtered Small Batch bottling is a marriage of appropriately aged and selected Highland Malts – including, amongst others, those distilled at Glen Garioch, Dalmore and Glengoyne distilleries.

Tasting notes:

  • Nose – Overridingly sweet on the nose, then warming to floral, light barley & spicy honeyed tones.
  • Palate – The palate opens in a spicy style – fructiferous, mellow, with sugary vanilla.
  • Finish – The finish is at first subtle, but runs to a sweet character that carries an oaky quality plus a late meringue style.

Photo: Nikoulina Berg

What were the other whisky blends explored?

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Whisky Ladies + Gents explore blends – Timorous Beastie, Rock Oyster, Epicurean, Sansibar Spicily Sweet

A few years ago two of our Mumbai based whisky clubs decided to combine for a sociable evening each year:

So what did 2018 bring? Blends… yes you read that right… blends.

But not your ordinary run-of-the-mill blends, this session featured a Scottish trio from Douglas Laing and a lone Sansibar blend.

Which whisky blends did we explore?

Tasting notes coming soon….

Photo: Nikoulina Berg

Until then, here are a few other blend sessions:

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Peaty Mini – Big Peat 46%

Next up in our peaty minis evening after the Wemyss Peat Chimney, we explored a blend from Douglas Laing.

Big Peat 46% (Douglas Laing)

  • Nose – Began with quite a sharp peat that then disappeared quickly. Baked banana or a banoffee cream pie then also settled into a surprisingly restrained fermented apple, quite sweet.
  • Palate – A delicious peat heat, black pepper, green peppercorns, liquorice root, quite fresh
  • Finish – Peat spice, sweet liquorice, changes to red chilli, cinnamon spice

What we enjoyed most about this whisky was how it kept changing. While consistently accessible – in a good way. There was overall a fresh lightness to its approach – unquestionably peat but one with a delightful ‘freshness’ and spirit.

Here’s what the folks over at Douglas Laing have to say:

Douglas Laing’s Big Peat is a feisty Islay character with a sweet side. This is a small batch bottling, without colouring or chill-filtration and only contains Islay Malt Whiskies, including Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and (even the now closed) Port Ellen to name but a few!

And their tasting notes?

Opens fresh, salty and clean on the nose, developing to sweet malt dried over peat. On the palate, detect ashes, sweet tar, beaches and smoking chimneys. The finish is long and lingering, replicating the palate with salty, tangy liquorice, smoke, bonfire ashes and a phenolic quality.

We sampled from a closed mini bottle in October 2017. While I can’t recall the exact price, think it was around £5 or so… a full bottle will set you back approximately $55. An exceedingly reasonable price for a most enjoyable dram.

And what else did we sample in our merry mini malts evening?

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