Let’s talk about marketing savvy. Big Peat. A blended malt (vatted malt, damn it!) built from Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen. Hmmm…can you imagine just what exactly the ratios of each of those component malts are in this snazzy l’il dram? Maybe something along the lines of 85% Caol Ila, 10% Bowmore, 4.95% Ardbeg and 0.05% Port Ellen. Just a guess.
My skepticism regarding the addition of Port Ellen is one I imagine to be shared by many out there. Let’s face it…even the lowest quality casks of Port Ellen are fetching disgusting sums. Do you really think any company (in this case Douglas Laing) is going to just vat away something that can net hundreds per bottle? Not so sure. Either way, this four ingredient recipe is enough to make even the most jaded Islay-phile light up like a little kid at Christmas time.
Big Peat is a unique offering from Douglas Laing, and one which speaks volumes about the blender’s art. Having four such distinct voices come together in this kind of harmony is magic. Big kudos to whomever owns the nose that pulled this all together.
And as for ‘Big Peat’ himself…that grizzled and windswept old bastard on the label and I…we’re pretty tight. We’ve spent several great nights together, including one magical evening in Islay’s best whisky bar, just off Loch Indaal. A bro-mance made in heaven (or at least Islay).
All joking aside, don’t be fooled by the rather less than serious packaging. The cartoon-ery hides a sophistication and quality that are impressive.
Nose: The nose alone kinda blows away the early cynicism I may have had. There are definite Caol Ila notes, but there really ARE notes of mid-20s-ish Port Ellen. Reminiscent of some of the Douglas Laing OMC expressions in particular. Maybe I was wrong. Ardbeg…yeah, I think I’m getting that. Bowmore…not so sure I’m picking up any notes of Bowmore. Citrus, smoke and rubber. Ash. Salt and pepper. Soil. Peat. A touch of leather. Briny. Some chocolate. A touch of natural caramel. Iodine. Faint Lapsang Souchong tea. Great balance.
Palate: Citric and smoky. Like cask strength Caol Ila, with a little more roundness. Great arrival. Much peppery punch. Salt licorice. Touch of lime zest. Just vaguely farmy…or maybe just hay.
Thoughts: Incredibly well integrated. Incredibly well made. This is a helluva dram for the price. If you cannae afford the big guns from Islay in their single malt incarnations…grab a bottle of Big Peat.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt