Rock Island

Douglas Laing’s blends, namely the Remarkable Regional Malts, seem to be working out for them quite well. These blends are composed of whisky from one specific region, Islay’s Big Peat being the most well known.

After introducing the Rock Oyster in 2015, Douglas Laing has now renamed their Island region blend to Rock Island. Currently the line consists of a NAS and 10 year old version, with a limited 21 year old being released as well. These blends all contain whisky from this isles of Arran, Jura, Orkney and Islay.

Rock Island | 46.8% ABV | Bottled 2019

Colour: White wine.

Nose: A very coastal feel. A salty seabreeze, fresh fish being brought into the harbour. There’s some earthy peatsmoke too but it’s quite gentle. Some hints of lemon. Also there’s a creamy and flowery note which I often find in Arran whisky.

Palate: Quite an oily mouthfeel. It’s salty but not overly so. A slight pepper and some hints of seafood coming through.

Finish: Short to medium long finish. Oily but drying towards the end because of the salty notes. The lemons return from the nose and the smoke gently lingers.

Great start. The nose and palate are quite consistent and it does give that maritime feeling it’s designed to deliver.

83/100

Rock Island 10 | 46% ABV | Bottled 2019

Colour: White wine.

Nose: It’s just like the NAS version but everything is more pronounced and driven. The peat comes through a bit more here. There’s still that maritime feel with the salt, but there’s a sweeter side as well. Pineapple, vanilla and some soft honey. The creamy note is still present too.

Palate: Again, Douglas Laing managed to have a great continuation between the nose and palate. Something other whisky sometimes struggle with. Quite a gentle arrival with some peppercorn. Then the earthy smoke comes in along with notes of pineapple and vanilla.

Finish: Medium long finish with the smoke lingering and a touch of ham.

Nice blend. A good balance between approachable and engaging.

86/100

Rock Island 21| 46.8% ABV | Bottled 2019

Colour: Gold.

Nose: We get a much more pronounced peat here. Quite earthy again with also notes of moss, hay and grass. There’s some ginger too. The seafood comes out more, mussels and clams. There’s also a hint of dust, showing the age of the components. With time there’s some more creamy vanilla notes.

Palate: Earthy peatsmoke engulfs the palate. It’s quite an engaging experience because of it. There’s lemons and dark honey too. Also a nice flowery note (think Arran, not 80’s Bowmore).

Finish: The smoke remains and turns salty. Langoustines. A long finish with a drying mouthfeel.

Excellent stuff. I love how the quality of the whisky noticeably improves as we go towards the older/more expensive stuff. That’s not always the case these days.

88/100