Big Peat

From a blended whisky review to my first blended malt review. For it I chose Big Peat, by Douglas Laing, a blended malt from Islay. It comprises only malt whisky from the island of Islay and it is made up of whisky from Coal Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg and Port Ellen (which closed in 1983!).

Big Peat_The Smoky DramWhisky: Big Peat, 43% ABV (Cost around R460)

Region: Islay, Scotland

Style: Blended Malt

Age: NAS

A blended malt is a combination of single malt whiskies from different distilleries. It differs from a standard blended whisky in that the blending components must be made exclusively from malted barley (in other words a single malt) and does not contain any grain. It was previously known as a “vatted malt” whisky.

As one can deduce from the name of the whisky, and not to mention from the distilleries that contribute to the blend, this is a peated whisky. According to the Whisky Science blog peat is a spongy material formed by the partial decomposition of organic matter (vegetation) in wetlands. The smoky flavour of a peat reek is supposedly coming from simple phenols, its alcohol-derivatives and creosols. The smoky flavour that some of us so enjoy in our whisky comes from the drying of the malted barley by a peat fire. Big Peat has a PPM of around 40.

Colour: Pale gold to straw with many long medium legs.

Nose: Starts off with a refreshing seaside saltiness and that wonderful peaty smoke. Lovely woody spices follow with a slight hint of medicinal character and an almost sweetness of pecan nut slice. Gorgeous and complex.

Palate: Burnt wood logs and smokiness is what I get on the first sip. This is quickly followed by a tongue tingling spiciness (cinnamon) across the whole mouth. It has a grassiness to it as well as some nuttiness. Palate is round and full with great complexity.

Finish: Long, warm and lingering with lovely enduring spiciness (especially on the tip of tongue) and more of that magnificent peaty smokiness.

Overall: If you are a fan of smoky or Islay whiskies, this one is for you. Not only is it seriously delicious, with a smooth smokiness that makes it very easy to drink, but it is a very affordable dram (especially considering there is Port Ellen whisky in the blend).

My Score: 87

New direction for Douglas Laing & Co

New direction revealed for whisky entrepreneurs Fred and Stewart Laing

Douglas Laing & Co owners forging new chapters for the next generation of the family

The owners of Douglas Laing & Co, the successful independent Scotch whisky blenders and bottlers, have announced that they are to go their separate ways and focus on different projects from today. 

Douglas Laing_Fred_Cara_1

Established by Fred Douglas Laing in 1948, Douglas Laing & Co has continued to thrive under the guidance of his sons Fred and Stewart Laing for the last 40 years.  Now, Fred and Stewart are looking to build a secure future for the next generation of their families by concentrating on the industry in their different ways, with Fred continuing to head up Douglas Laing & Co, while Stewart launches a new company, Hunter Laing & Co. Full details of Hunter Laing & Co’s formation are being announced today, as is further detail on Douglas Laing’s development.

The assets of Douglas Laing & Co have been split between the two brothers. Stock, brands and other functions of the business have been divided, giving both brothers equal value.

Stewart will retain Old Malt Cask, the Old & Rare Selection, Douglas (of Drumlanrig) range of Single Malts, Douglas Blend, House Of Peers, Sovereign Single Grain and John Player Special blend as well as the bottling facility in East Kilbride.

Douglas Laing under Fred will continue to offer their Single Cask Provenance range, Director’s Cut, Double Barrel, Premier Barrel, Clan Denny Malts and Grains, Epicurean Blend, the King Of Scots range, McGibbon’s and Big Peat.

In a joint statement, the brothers said: “The Scotch whisky industry is in great shape at the moment and this presents each of us with the perfect opportunity to diversify and explore different projects with the next generation of our families. 

“As drinkers around the world expand their whisky repertoire and seek out new flavours, the opportunities for niche players will flourish.  Our commitment is to creating a solid business for the next generation of our families and the business structures now in place allow us to capitalise on the opportunities the market place provides for their long-term benefit.”


High Spirits at leading Scotch Whisky firm Douglas Laing as it welcomes third generation Douglas Laing_Fred_Cara_2

Wednesday 1st May 2013, Fred Laing realises his career-long ambition of taking total control of Douglas Laing & Co. the business his father Fred Douglas Laing established in 1948, which is now regarded as one of Scotland’s most successful independent Scotch Whisky blenders and bottlers. As Fred restructures for the future, it has also been announced that the company will maintain tradition with a senior appointment from the third generation of the family.

Cara Laing, Fred’s daughter, joins the company as Head of Brands Marketing, bringing with her impressive industry experience and proven marketing expertise. She leaves behind Morrison Bowmore Distillers where she led both Bowmore and Glen Garioch Single Malts as Marketing Manager, to take up this role. Specialising in brand strategy and innovation, Cara was previously Global Brand Manager of Jura and also worked on Dalmore Single Malt at Whyte and Mackay.

Fred and Cara now have an exciting opportunity to develop fresh, innovative, new brands for Douglas Laing. The first of these new brands – a premium Single Cask range – for the company is expected to be unveiled in September. Most recently Fred created and launched the Big Peat brand; a modern, quirky Islay malt with a big personality that continues to grow YOY, out-performing the Malt category. It has also won numerous awards, most recently stealing the show at the ISW International Spirits Awards 2013, to win ‘Grand Gold’.

Beyond innovation, Douglas Laing will continue to invest heavily in stocks appropriate to protect their malt, grain and blended core brands such as ‘Directors’ Cut’ and ‘Provenance’ both of which are performing well and out-pacing the Malt category with strong double digit growth. 

Douglas Laing brands include:

  • Single Malt: Provenance, Directors’ Cut, Premier Barrel
  • Single Grain: Clan Denny Grain
  • Blended Malt: Big Peat, Double Barrel,
  • Blended Scotch: King of Scots, McGibbons, Epicurean 

Fred Laing said: “This is the start of a fresh new chapter at Douglas Laing with our third generation and I’m delighted to have Cara join the company my father established over 60 years ago. I confess, she brings exceptional and arguably better experience in the industry than I do. She has a great head for business, and an energetic, creative take on what’s needed in the industry; a trait that’s particularly important given our determination to strengthen Douglas Laing’s niche as a progressive, innovative company.  We look forward to developing our current whiskies as well as our new brands, which are already in the pipeline.”

Douglas Laing_Cara

Cara added: “Douglas Laing has a long and interesting history; one that I’m delighted to officially be part of now. The company’s reputation has been built on being individual, never following the crowd and always insisting upon the best quality. Dad has been a massive inspiration to me as the driving force behind Douglas Laing, so I’m looking forward to working with him, strengthening the characteristics and brands that he introduced and emphasising our progressive, original spirit through clever marketing and strategic development.”

As has always been the case, Fred will continue to hand-select all of Douglas Laing’s casks as well as writing the tasting notes in conjunction with Malt Ambassador, Jan Beckers. Fred has also retained other key members of the original Douglas Laing team, including Finance Director Alick Bisset plus Head of Logistics Archie Hamilton and Head of Production Stephen Gardiner who cumulatively bring more than 50 years experience with the company. The 12 strong Douglas Laing team will be expanded on in the coming months with several senior new appointments.

Some further Douglas Laing & Co. information:

  • Established over 65 years ago, Douglas Laing & Co. is a leading independent Scotch Whisky blender and bottler specialising in the finest Single Cask bottlings.
  • The company was founded by Fred Douglas Laing in 1948 and is still owned and run by the Laing family.
  • The company philosophy is to bottle the way the distiller intended – at a high strength and non-chill-filtered to preserve the robust and unique character of the whisky. Douglas Laing’s industry reputation and many awards is testament to this ethos. 

For further information on Douglas Laing & Co, please contact Wire Media on 0141 440 6761

For further information on Hunter Laing & Co, please contact Steely Fox on 0131 524 6176

For further information, please contact Pamela Scobbie of Wire Media:, 07717874769.