Port Ellen 31yo 1982/2013 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, Refill Hogshead, DL REF 9964, 286 bottles)

Next up, yet another Port Ellen, yes, Master Quill gets spoiled again! This time by Cara Laing ehhh Leggat (daughter of…) and Chris Leggat (now the son-in-law of…). Yes in the time between me receiving this Port Ellen, and reviewing it now, these two got married! Congratulations (again) guys! So let’s call this Port Ellen their wedding dram, shall we?

For those of you who didn’t know already, there have been some changes within Douglas Laing company. Brothers Fred (father of… & father in law of…) and Stewart Laing parted ways and divided the old Douglas Laing firm between themselves. Fred retained the ‘Douglas Laing’ name, ‘The Provenance’ series and ‘Big Peat’ and last but not least acquired the help of daughter Cara, who had to be bought back from Bowmore.

Stewart had to think up a new name: ‘Hunter Laing’ (also a family name) and has the highly succesful ranges of the ‘Old Malt Cask’ (OMC) and the ‘Old and Rare’ (O&R) series. Although OMC is probably the most impressive series the brothers had together, Fred created the new series of Old Particular, not wholly different from the OMC (and O&R lettering, if you ask me). So the loss of OMC and O&R are almost painlessly intercepted with The ‘Old Particular’ range and the ‘Directors’ Cask’ range. The future is looking great for the Laing’s and Leggats!

Color: Almost copper gold.

Nose: Lovely old and mellow peat, not very smoky, although there is some wood-smoke in here. Swamp-like plants (although this sounds horrible, it’s quite the opposite). The swamp also contained some lavas. Small hints of licorice and tar (worn down tarred rope). Under this all, some yellow sugared fruits want to emerge. Old dried apricots. (No I’m not mad). unusually mellow Port Ellen, but therefore absolutely lovely. Great balance too.

Taste: Sweeeeeeet, sweet and chewy at first. Fruity sweetness with ash and licorice again. Again old peat, very mellow. Small hints of mint (the mint stays in the back of my throat after the finish, it’s absolutely there), almonds and clove. A little bit of wood, but nowhere near the amount to be expected considering the age, also no bitterness. Quite a lively and full-bodied Port Ellen, but not a lot of legs in my glass. Medium finish but that fits the profile, it’s in no way an extreme Islay Whisky, but a more introvert and stylish Whisky. I love it!

Nothing to complain then? Not really, life is great, still having these Whiskies around, although more and more expensive. I was a bit surprised the finish wasn’t longer considering it’s a Port Ellen at 51.5% ABV, and comparing this to DL REF 4112, but really, who cares. The Whisky is great, the packaging looks great, Cara and Chris look great, and at the time of writing, the sun is shining, what more can we ask for. Ehhh, so more Port Ellen maybe…?

Points: 92

Thanks go out to Cara & Chris for providing the sample!

Linlithgow 31yo 1970/2002 (52.4%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, 139 bottles)

This was staring me in the eye for a while now, and since this is my favorite Lowland distillery, no, one of my favorite distilleries of them all, it is time to try out a very old Linlithgow. Well Linlithgow’s on the label, but it is better known as Saint Magdalene.

What could be more appetizing to you than the fact that the site of St. Magdalene in Linlithgow, West Lothian, housed a Lepper Colony in the 12th century, or that the water didn’t come from an ancient super pure melted snow mineral water source, but from the Union canal nearby. But enough facts. If you want more, have a look at Tomas Karlsson’s site.

Founded in 1798 and closed like many (good) others in 1983. The distillery is no more and there are no casks maturing there anymore, only people. It’s an apartment building now. What a shame. Didn’t they know then, it was this good, am I wrong, or isn’t it about the quality anymore…

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Malty. Light citrus freshness and seems very clean at first. It doesn’t take long for a lot more to show up. Grass on a hot day. Dust and hay. It has a touch of floral sweetness to it. Given some time, there is a new depth to this. Or a “growing” depth you see in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Oily, fatty, toffee, licorice and hot tar (all in tiny amounts). No wood. Very special.

Taste: Thick, grassy and medium sweet. Dried apricots and apple skins. It isn’t the same as the nose (for me the nose was not fruity), but it complements it very well. Again there is almost no wood. It’s there really, but it is hidden well and transports the body. You can taste the balancing spiciness or distant bitterness (again, hidden well) and the sourness in the finish is from the oak too. Great balance.

For some people these whiskies are to light, or more of an acquired taste, but if you work on this a bit, it will be really rewarding.

It’s a first for me, but this is one, I’d recommend, you enjoy in absolute silence and by yourself. Almost any other Single Malt is best shared with friends, but this is a private one, maybe because the beauty lies in the details. But that’s not all. This has a lot to give and it doesn’t give it all at once. Again time is a friend here. I’m quite stunned also that this is a 31yo and that it’s from 1970, because it can come across much younger. For me it resembles some of the 1982 expressions also bottled by Douglas Laing. I’m a fan!

Points: 91