Douglas Laing Scallywag Chocolate Edition #2 | 48% ABV | Bottled 2019

The Scallywag has been the Speyside representative in Douglas Laing’s “Remarkable Regional Malts” series. While I haven’t yet had a chance to taste the core version, I did get myself a bottle of the Chocolate Edition. It’s made up of both ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks, with a higher percentage of the former.

It was bottled for World Chocolate Day 2019 and is limited to 500 bottles. It’s vintage 2009, so about 10 years old.

Colour: Amber

Nose: Quite a bit going on in the nose here. Orange zest and cherry liqueur. Sultana’s. I’m also getting a fruit jam sweetness, makes me think there could be some PX in here. Dark chocolate (of course) and some light bourbony notes like honey keep it from being a bit dull and dusty.

Palate: The chocolate takes the main stage here, with both milk and dark chocolate coating the palate. Also some aniseeds and coffee beans.

Finish: Quite a long finish with the chocolate sticking to the taste buds, a hint of sweetness is there as well.

It does what it says on the bottle, and I’m happy for it. Excellent blend for it’s price!

87/100

Glenglassaugh Revival | 46% ABV | Bottled 2012

I’m desperately trying to clear out my sampledrawer and pulled out this Glenglassaugh Revival. I’ve never really paid any attention to this distillery so I was pleased to try an unknown spirit.

The Glenglassaugh distillery was mothballed in 1986 only to be reopened in 2008 with new investors. They currently produce both peated and unpeated whisky.

The Revival was their first whisky they released from the re-opened distillery. It’s 3 years old and has spent the last 6 months getting finished in first fill ex-Oloroso casks.

Colour: Amber

Nose: Yeasty, grassy and somewhat metallic. It’s young, but the casks were quite active. I’m getting tangerine and cherry pits. Some vanilla is in there too. I’m surprised at the complex yet quite coherent nose for its age.

Palate: Some pepper and woodspice, then lots of ginger. There’s a truffle note too.

Finish: Ah, the sweetness from the Oloroso wood comes back here. Dark red fruits and some leather. The metallic note is here as well though. It’s a medium long finish.

I’m honestly surprised by this. I should pay more attention to Glenglassaugh in the future…

84/100

Hazelburn 14 | 49.3% ABV | Bottled 2019

Springbank has long been one of my favorite distilleries, making interesting yet engaging stuff. Hazelburn is sort of Springbank’s little brother, being unpeated and triple distilled. Following the previous year’s release of the Hazelburn 13, is the 2019 Hazelburn 14 year old from fresh ex-Oloroso sherry casks.

Colour: Copper

Nose: A very rich nose with clear Oloroso influence. Raisins and dried plums, some tobacco leaves and leather. Notes of furniture polish too. I’m getting a hint of sulphur but not overly so. Digging a bit deeper there’s cough syrup and ham. Hazelburn is supposed to be unpeated but I do get a whiff of smoke in there too.

Palate: Quite a fat and oily arrival. Dark chocolate, raisins, plums and brown sugar. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Springbank funk in here as well.

Finish: The brown sugar extends into the finish. It has quite an intense sweetness and lingers for a long time. I can’t seem to get rid of that smokey note, not that I mind.

A beautifully complex whisky, although not the most accessible to beginners.

88/100

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

Compass Box Flaming Heart

The Flaming Heart originated from the idea of combining unpeated whisky from French Oak casks with the peat smoke of an Islay malt. Over the years there have been a couple of editions of the Flaming Heart. I was able to put the 5th edition released in 2015 and the 6th edition released in 2018 side by side.

Flaming Heart 5th Edition | 48.9% ABV | Bottled 2015

Colour: Light gold.

Nose: A nice amount of smoke but not too in your face. It’s accompanied by a waxy note, mustard seeds and a lemon custard.

Palate: Quite salty smoke that builds op exceptionally well in the mouth. A touch of a medicinal note, mint and lemons. A very clean cut, clear, straight to the point, no nonsense experience, which I enjoy if it’s executed as well as here.

Finish: A long finish of honeyed smoke

The balance of the smoke with the sweet honey and sour lemons is remarkable. Great stuff here.

90/100

Flaming Heart 6th Edition | 48.9% ABV | Bottled 2018

Colour: Light gold, ever so slightly lighter than the 5th edition.

Nose: A beehive that’s on fire. The smoke from the Caol Ila intertwines beautifully with the Clynelish. Seaweed and salt, but there’s also a slight sherry sweetness which isn’t in the 5th edition.

Palate: A strong smoke here, moreso than on the nose. Lemons, vanilla and caramel. Some butterscotch notes and those little Werther’s Original candies.

Finish: A long finish with smoke turning salty, drying the mouth.

It’s got a bit more going on, mainly due to the influence of the sherry casks. Because of that’s it’s just a smidgen less focussed than the 5th edition. Still a great blend.

89/100

Compass Box Stranger & Stranger | 46% ABV | Bottled 2019

Stranger & Stranger, quite a nice name for a Compass Box blend I think. The name comes from one of the design companies Compass Box uses. This bottling is to celebrate their 10 year partnership with Stranger & Stranger who designed the logo’s for quite a bit of their bottles, including No Name, Phenomenology and their core range of products.

That’s not the only “strange” thing about this though. This blend is technically a spirit drink, not a whisky, as they used some 1 year old Girvan grain spirit in this. The story goes that this was “sacrificial spirit” used to season experimental casks, but who’s to say. Either way, at 1% of this blend’s contents, it won’t get in the way of things.

Other than the Girvan, there’s Glenlossie, Glen Elgin and some Linkwood in this blend.

Colour: Gold.

Nose: This needs a lot of time to open up. At first it’s mainly dust and chalk. With time there’s more fruity notes. Pear, mango and Reine Claude plums. Definite hints of grass and cereal too.

Palate: It starts off quite fruity with notes of green apple, lemon and mango. However, those quickly get overtaken by grass, hay and cereal note. A heavy does of barley too.

Finish: A medium long finish. Some pepper and vanilla. The tropical fruits, mainly mango, come back to end on a sweeter note.

Decent blend here, and quite barley-centric on the mid-palate. As has come up a few times, you need to wonder if it’s worth the asking price.

85/100

Compass Box No Name | 48.9% ABV | Bottled 2017

Compass Box No Name, that’s quite a smart marketing trick there! They want to let the whisky speak for it’s own, fine. This is said to be the peatiest Compass Box so far, consisting of a healthy amount of Ardbeg, Caol Ila and, of course, some Clynelish.

Colour: White wine

Nose: A very strong peatsmoke comes out of the glass. I’m envisioning standing on a dune in windy weather, waves crashing on the shore. Salt, sea air, wonderful. In the back, there’s some banana notes, smoked ham and a hint of medicinality (is that even a word? You know what I mean).

Palate: Ultra clean, concise, focussed peat. Wood still smoldering, smoked salmon. At the end the salt begins to amp up it’s volume.

Finish: The salty notes are prominent here, quite an oily mouthfeel. The smoke still lingers too for quite a long finish.

I’ve put this next to my Flaming Heart and yes, this is quite a bit peatier. I love how focussed it comes across, very nice blending there!

90/100

Compass Box Phenomenology | 46% ABV | Bottled 2017

Phenomenology is “the philosophical study of the structures of experience and consciousness.” It’s also a Compass Box blend, so let’s focus on what I do understand. The Phenomenology uses quite an interesting recipe. It’s mostly Glenlossie and Tamdhu, but there’s a teeny tiny bit of Highland Park, Talisker and Caol Ila added, to give it that extra oomph I suppose.

Colour: Light gold.

Nose: Very nice. Lemons and freshly cut grass but also tropical fruits like mango and coconut. Underneath this all is the slightest suggestion of earthy peat. A very nice, and perhaps more importantly, coherent nose.

Palate: A very oily mouthfeel which is lovely. Lemons and apple cider, honey and beeswax. Not in a boring way mind you, it’s all running through each other eloquently.

Finish: A medium long finish, mainly the (green) apples and lemons remain.

Simply a good, sturdy blend with an interesting recipe.

88/100

Compass Box Enlightenment | 46% ABV | Bottled 2016

Compass Box has had a number of issues with the SWA. One of the latest was that Compass Box started disclosing the components that went into it’s blends, including the age. According to the SWA, only the youngest component’s age can be advertised, not the others.

Compass Box changed it’s approach and now tell you the age when you send them a mail. Also, they created this blend. The Enlightenment.

Colour: White wine.

Nose: Starts off quite malty with some shy fruity notes, but they don’t stay shy for long. A nice strong nose with white fruits, peaches, pears. Vanilla and honey and chamomile. Oh, and of course there’s beeswax.

Palate: Fruits once again, mainly melons (honeydews in particular). With undertones of white grapes, wax, vanilla and honey. It’s all intermingled nicely.

Finish: A bit of a shorter finish. Almonds and sawdust mainly.

Good stuff. If Compass Box keeps bringing blends like this, I hope they get in trouble with the SWA again!

87/100

Compass Box Delilah’s 25th Anniversary | 46% ABV | Bottled 2018

Another Compass Box, another collaboration. This time it’s with the Chicago punk & rockbar Delilah’s. It consists of a parcel of “Delilah’s 20th anniversary parcel”, 10% grain whisky and some other malts. Quite a large percentage has matured in ex-sherry casks, interesting!

Colour: Gold.

Nose: There’s quite a bit going on here. At first there’s spices: ginger, nutmeg, some cinnamon. Then there’s green apple and a lovely caramel note. Some slight sherry fruit tones, furniture cleaner and is that bayleaf?

Palate: It starts off with the spices once again, mainly nutmeg. Then some hints of those sherry fruits in the form of cherries and milk chocolate.

Finish: Medium long finish. The milk chocolate turns to dark chocolate, some coffee and roasted pinenuts.

Very nice, layered, complex whisky. I’m missing a bit of a “hook” though.

85/100