Big Peat is a vatting of four Islay distilleries: Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen. The fact that it contains older whisky from Port Ellen, makes this an unusual offering. While other bottlers can’t afford to use Port Ellen in a vatting or a blend, for Douglas Laing it’s not a problem as they have one of the largest stocks of this legendary distillery.
Note that Big Peat is such a success that they’re now somewhere around batch number 7 or 8, probably with (small) differences between them. As far as I know, there’s no way to recognize which batch you’re buying.
Big Peat (46%, Douglas Laing 2010)
Nose: a summary of Islay, with salty peat, some vanilla and a great aniseed note. Some mocha. Overall rather sweet with a big emphasis on tarry notes. On top of this, I get some youngish fruit like pear and peach, which reminds me of Ardbeg Rollercoaster in a way. Nice ambiguity of younger and older elements.
Mouth: very smokey and ashy. Quite explosive with a rubbery edge. Big peat indeed. Sweet liquorice and again some vanilla. Not much fruit here.
Finish: peat and smoke. Slowly drying.
A benchmark Islay vatting. You get heavy peat but a charming vanilla sweetness as well to round it off. A bottle should cost around € 40 which is very good value.