Showing posts with label Douglas Laing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Douglas Laing. Show all posts

Strathmill 1993 (Old Particular) Review

“Bitter-Sweet Symphony”

Whisky Review # 827

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Strathmill 1993 - Distilled: January 1993
Bottled By: Douglas Laing (Old Particular Series) in December 2014
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # DL 10585 - 320 Bottles
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 51.5% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Refill Sherry Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 110-120 (August 2019)
Buying Advice: ­čśĆ You must like Liquid Wood! The price is okay given its age.


Golden Amber (Natural Colour)


The Sherry Cask influence is not overly strong although I do get some Sulphur. It's not too bad though. Give this Strathmill enough time in the glass as it opens rather slowly. The Nose is Fruity and Grassy with some Bitter, Sweet & Mineral notes. It's not too Woody given its age. The Alcohol is noticeable. Still, it's the best part of this Strathmill.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Grass and Straw, Candied Fruit like Pineapple and Pear, Orange Peel, Refill Oak, Dried Herbs and some Sour Citrus (Grapefruit & Lemon).

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Caramel, Nuts, Resin, Ripe Banana, Peach, Stewed Fruit like Apples and Plums, Green Leaves and Wet Stone. A light off-note that reminds me of Cooked Vegetables or perhaps slightly Sweaty Feet.


Bitter-Sweet. Sulphur and Cooked Vegetables remain present. A bit of heavy Motor Oil as well. I do miss a bit of balance here. The Palate is saved by Fruity notes. The Alcohol is not fully integrated.

Main Flavours:

Barley, Yeast, Tinned Pineapple, Ripe Banana, Artificially Flavoured Candies, Cooked Fruits (Apples and Pears), Dark Berries, Refill Oak, Grapefruit, Orange, Pepper, Ginger and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Honey, Vanilla, Caramel, Resin, Dairy, Nutmeg, Dried Herbs and Dirty Earth.


Middle-Long. Sweet at first but with increasing Bitterness towards the Dry end. The Bitter Oak notes don't invite you to have another sip. It's been a while since I find such deep Bitterness in a Single Malt. I also find Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Dark Fruits like Berries and Prunes, Nuts, Refill Oak, Stewed Fruit like Pears and Apples, Vanilla, Orange, Grapefruit, Dried Herbs, Cooked Vegetables Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Menthol and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

Added water does not improve this Strathmill but makes it a bit easier to drink. The Alcohol subsides but the strong Bitterness remains.

Rating: 82.5
Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but for this extreme Bitterness.


Strathmill was founded in 1891 in Keith and is a part of the Diageo group since 1997. Almost all of the production of around 2 million litres is used for the J&B and Spey Royal Blends. The only official bottling is a 12 Year old Flora & Fauna. In 2014 a 25 Year old Special limited release was launched.

This Strathmill is certainly not a mainstream Malt. It's Unbalanced and slightly Dirty. So it does show character which is always a plus in my book. So I would have given this Single Malt a higher rating but for this absurd Bitterness. Is it the Cask? Did the Spirit mature too long? Or both? In fact I can't remember the last time I had such a Bitter Single Malt. You won't notice this on the Nose but Palate and Finish suffer greatly. Well, it is as it is. I feel that Douglas Laing could have watched this cask a bit more carefully!


Jan van den Ende                                                                  August 19, 2019

Scallywag Small Batch and Scallywag Cask Strength Review

“Who Let The Dogs Out”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Speyside
Brand: Scallywag (Small Batch)
Bottled by/for: Douglas Laing, Glasgow
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: NAS 
ABV: 46%

Colour: Golden Amber (Natural Colour) 

Nose: The Sherry influence is there but it's a bit Dusty and Tired, almost Stale. 
I suspect that many older Refill casks went in the mix. I also believe that the heart of this Blend is formed by Glenrothes. On the Nose, this Scallywagg is mostly Sweet although it's got some Sour, Herbal, Spicy and Metallic notes as well. I find Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Toast with Margarine, Toasted Barley, Nuts, Straw, Toffee, Vanilla, Treacle, Dried Fruit, Overripe Apple, Citrus, Cherry Flavoured Candies, Floral tones, Chocolate, Tobacco, Dusty Road, Ginger, light Pepper, Cinnamon and other Christmas Spices. The Spirit is still Young and the Alcohol is not fully integrated. After a while I get some Heather-Honey as well. It's not bad but it's a bit of a mixed bag without sufficient balance.

Palate: Malty and Quite Spicy. Much more so than the Nose would want you to believe. Less Sweet as well and a bit Sour. It's a Scallywag indeed! I find Toffee, Toasted Barley, Caramel, Dried Fruits (Raisins), Vanilla, Refill Oak, Orange Peel, Tobacco, Dried Herbs, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Cardamom, Apple Sauce, Cherry Flavoured Candies and Chocolate.      

Finish: Short, Bitter-Sweet, Spicy, Herbal and slightly Sour. I find Sugared Cereals, Malt, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Dried Fruit, Green Apple, Tobacco, Licorice, Menthol, Charred Refill Oak, Alcohol, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom, Herbal Tea, Citrus Peel, Nuts and Dark Chocolate. A bit Edgy and Dry towards the end. 

I added a bit of Water but the Scallywag Small Batch does not improve that way. It's a bit more Floral on the Nose and with some extra (Wood) Spice on the Palate. 

Rating: 80.5

Nose: 20 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20 

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good 

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Country: Scotland 
Region: Speyside
Brand: Scallywag Cask Strength (Limited Edition # 1)
Bottled by/for: Douglas Laing, Glasgow
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: NAS 
ABV: 53.6%

Colour: Dark Gold (Natural Colour)

Nose: Although the Nose of the CS is not significantly different from the Small Batch it does become clear that selected casks were used for this quite Limited Edition. The Sherry notes are once again clear but this time with less Sour notes. And no Metals around. Glenrothes still dominates with its Nutty and Spicy character. I find Buttered Toast with Peach Marmalade, Toasted Barley, Nuts, Straw, Caramel, Vanilla, Marzipan, Espresso, Dried Fruit, Honey, Orange, Cherry Flavoured Candies, Floral tones, Milk Chocolate, Tobacco, Salt, Ginger, Nutmeg, Pepper, Cinnamon and Cloves. The Spirit is still Young and the Alcohol is not fully integrated. Despite this, the CS leaves a more balanced impression than the Small Batch.  

Palate: Sherry and Spices. The Macallan makes itself known. Again, the heavy Spices come as a surprise after the Nose. I find Toasted Barley, Roasted Nuts, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Dried Fruit, Apple Sauce, Chocolate, Dried Herbs, Oak, Alcohol, Orange Peel, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg and Cardamom.     

Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Spicy, Herbal and slightly Sour. I find Cereals, Malt, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Dried Fruit, Green Apple, Tobacco, Chocolate, Licorice, Menthol, Charred Refill Oak, Alcohol, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom, Dried Herbs, Citrus Peel, Marzipan and Dark Chocolate.

I added a bit of Water and you get more Tobacco and Spices on the Nose. Almost like an After Shave with those characteristics. The Palate and Finish become Sweeter and the Chocolate notes become stronger. There is certainly room to play with a bit of Water. 

Rating: 84

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21 

General Remarks: The name of this Blended Malt was inspired by the long line of Fox Terriers owned by the Laing family through the years. Fox Terriers are known for being Sweet and Mischievous at the same time. It was launched in 2013 and forms part of a series of four called Remarkable Regional Malts that covers the Highlands (Timorous Beastie), Speyside (Scallywag), Islay (Big Peat) and the Islands (Rock Oyster). The Scallywag CS was launched as a Limited Edition in 2015. Only 6000 bottles went to the market. It is not Chill-Filtered and contains Single Malt from a/o Glenrothes, Macallan and Mortlach. It matured in a mix of Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogsheads and Refill Ex-Sherry Butts. It sells at an average 70 US Dollars (February 2016).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good  

Conclusion: The presentation of the Scallywag is certainly original. It's funny to see that the Fox Terrier on the CS Packaging has wide open eyes and looks more confident than the one pictured on the Box and Bottle of the Small Batch. That surely is representative for the two Blended Malts. The CS is stronger and more balanced than the Small Batch and has less Off-Notes. It's clear to me that selected casks were used to compose the CS. When compared Head-to-Head, the CS is the clear winner although it's quite expensive for such a young Whisky. The main difference is that the Small Batch comes close to being a young Glenrothes in disguise that matured in indifferent Refill Casks. The CS clearly benefits from being composed of selected casks. It makes this Blend more balanced and gives the Macallan more room to shine. So despite the price difference my advice is to stick with the CS if you can afford it and leave the Small Batch alone.   

Jan van den Ende                                                               February 14, 2016