Douglas Laing: Old Particular Range

Labelling of Douglas Laing range

I dashed through to Glasgow the other day for a tasting and catch up with Jan Beckers of Douglas Laing. The funny thing is, it really isn’t that far, yet I am not through in Glasgow nearly enough. I mean, it takes me longer to get to work in the morning (in Edinburgh) than it does to get from Haymarket to Queen Street Station. There are no excuses for not popping through more.

Anyway, as I said, I was popping through to taste their new Old Particular range. We were going to do the tasting at the Townhouse/offices that are the home of Douglas Laing. Jan and I were in the top floor study, which is immaculately furnished with two leather sofas, a writing desk, and a large cabinet to one side, on which sat more samples than I could count (no comments about my counting skills please-there were loads of samples).

To get our palates warmed up, we started with a Girvan 47 year old from the Clan Denny Range (as you do). It was lovely. Juicy, fruity, grapefruit, honeyed. Definitely the way to perk myself up after a dull train journey.

It was the kind of tasting I really enjoy (I really enjoy most tastings to be fair, but this was particularly good), as it was just me and Jan, shooting the breeze, (and Cara popping in towards the end, with her knowledge and enthusiasm, just to make the tasting even better) . Sitting with someone who is clearly fascinated with drinks, the drinks business and the history of the drinks business, and who I could learn from, as Jan is, was a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. We discussed everything from alcohol laws in Scandinavia (an article to come soon), to market requests for whisky, to bottling strengths, to prohibition in Wick (yes, it did happen), to the history of Douglas Laing, and more booze geekery in between.

I’ll drop in some nuggets about Douglas Laing and the booze business as I talk about the whisky that makes up the Old Particular Range. To give you an idea, the Old Particular Range is the Single Cask Range Fred, Cara and Jan have been working on. This work means tasting hundreds of casks they have in bond. I can almost feel the sympathy of the folks reading this for all their hard tasting work. On to tasting notes:

Auchentoshan 15 year Old

48.4% Abv

Buy it here for £62.35

Nose: Wine gums, sugar, fruity. Quite a simple nose, maybe with a touch of sweet cider. A pleasant nose.

Palate: Fruity, zesty, orange oil. A nice fresh palate.

Overall: I really liked this Auchentoshans freshness and directness. I think simple, sweet and fruity can be a very good thing, particularly if you are looking for a malt to drink with a couple of friends. Not mind blowing, but that’s fine.

Just to mention, the younger bottlings in this range (below 18) will be bottled at 48.4% abv, recognising that they tend to taste slightly more of harsher alcohols. The older bottlings will be bottled at 51.5, as they don’t tend to taste as strongly of alcohol, even at a higher abv. The oldest and rarest will be natural cask strength. It’s an interesting idea to do it like this, and it is something that I admit I have noticed at tastings (where young whisky is harsher), so it’s interesting to see Douglas Laing working with that in this bottling range.

Blair Atholl 20 year Old

51.5% Abv

Buy it here for £79.96

Nose: Floral, perfumed and elegant. Hints of honey and balsa wood. A complex, delicate nose. Not your more commonly seen, smack you in the face sherried beasts that Blair Atholl sometimes throws out.

Palate: Big toffeyed note. Honey. Really nice texture and general mouthfeel

Overall: Again, quite a sessionable dram, which perhaps doesn’t work when you are getting up to 20 year old whisky. There is maybe an expectation of a bit more in terms of flavour. Still good though. Just not great.

Glen Scotia 21 year old


Buy here for £83.36

Nose: Peach, apricot, syrup, a slight oily note. orange zest, banana. This is a lovely nose. Really enjoyably fruity and lively.

Palate: A big biscuity note to start. Nice and spicy. Hints of gingerbread and a toasted note. Only as it’s creeping into the finish do you get bitterness, oiliness and some of those other, well known Campbeltown notes.

So far so good. In this first part of the tasting, the Glen Scotia was my pick. So very juicy and fruity. In part 2, we will have an old Bowmore, some Big Peat and maybe even a Port Ellen…


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