I’d initially planned to post this in December, when the subject matter would have been a little more topical, but…as always…other stuff always seemed to take precedent.
Our good friend ‘Peat’ has had a makeover as Santa Clause for the packaging of this cask strength version of our beloved Big Peat from Douglas Laing. This expression is colloquially referred to as ‘Big Peat Santa’ around here, and event now is readily available if you’re on the hunt. You won’t have to hunt hard either. This whisky is instantly recognizable for its graphics, if not its flavour profile this time ’round.
Wait. What? Is this the Big Peat we’ve been singing the praises of for a few years now? Not really, I’m afraid. The differences are not simply in the horsepower and nuance either, but are woven throughout the DNA of the whisky. I hate to say it, but this is not even recognizable under the same name as its weaker strength brother. But maybe it’s all in how you view it. Maybe I should look at this one differently. Maybe it’s supposed to be more a variation on a theme than a full strength realization.
It’s a rare occasion when I’ll take the lower strength dram when there is a beefier offering at hand. Call it ‘flavour greed’, not alcoholism, if you don’t mind. Which brings us back to why I’d opt for the standard edition over this…the flavour is simply richer in the mainstay release.
The color this time is as gentle as white wine. The smoke, though still big, is thinner…less billowy. The whisky seems less oily and textured. Where I could pick up on echoes of Port Ellen in the regular bottling, it is absolutely lost in here. The notes of maturity that surprised in the other bottling are here replaced by younger, underdeveloped tones.
Don’t get me wrong. This is still a good dram. It’s just not nearly as good as what you can find in regular Big Peat.
Nose: Almond. Iodine. Salt and pepper. Peat. Smoke. More chocolate. More fruit here than on the standard edition. Orange. Mixed fruit juices. Sunflower seeds. Rubber…like bicycle tires. Maybe a touch of cola. Lacks the immediate charm of the original versions at 46%. Boasts a few feinty notes too, from either very young whisky or a poor middle cut, I’d guess.
Palate: Smoky and peaty. Wow…this is a big, fiery young dram. Some prickly chilis. Lime. Pepper, salt and very fresh lively ginger. Coffee and bitter dark chocolate. Citrus again. Very naked actually. Devolves into wood splinters, dry cocoa, apple skins.
Thoughts: Still a good dram, but nowhere near the ‘take you by surprise’ charm of the regular edition. If you’re a fan of the youthful flaming peat bogs, and you love ’em big and pointy as hell (and a l’il bit young), this is your dram.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt