Douglas Laing – Big Peat Christmas 2014

Tasting Notes

It’s time for this year’s Christmas Big Peat, for us this is always one hell of a dram, and we can’t wait to see how this one fares.  Christmas Big Peat is always bottled at cask strength and this year’s is bottled at 55.7% ABV natural colours and non-chill filtered.  Priced at around £49.95 and can be brought from many retailers including The Whisky Exchange here.

BigPeatXmas2014A vatted peated malt that contains only Islay malts including; Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen amongst others.

The company was established over 65 years ago, and is a leading independent Scotch whisky blender and bottler specialising in the selection and release of Single Cask and Small Batch Malt Scotch Whiskies.

The company was founded by Fred Douglas Laing in 1948 and is still owned and run by the Laing family – Fred Laing Jr and his daughter Cara Laing.

The lovely Cara kindly provided us with a sample for review, during my recent visit to Douglas Laing HQ, click here to read an interview with Cara if you haven’t already:

Kirsty – @KirstyClarke29


Here comes the peat, a big smoky, ashy hit.  Bonfires and smokehouses, meaty sizzling steak fajitas, rain falling on ash.  Then the citrus comes in and freshens everything up, plenty of lemon and lime on the nose, plenty of astringency though, there are some acetone notes, but coupled with the lemon and lime, it’s more like a margarita astringency.  There are some spices to be found, in both cinnamon and some lovely hot ginger, I think Peat’s been baking.  There’s just a touch of briny sea water coupled with tobacco leaf.


The smoke is the first thing up on the palate, and that’s no big surprize, there’s fleshy scallops and fresh tuna, which is then overpowered by a hot T-Bone steak kick.  Just as you start to adjust to the meatiness, the heat comes in, it takes a couple of seconds, but boy, this kicks like a mule!  The lovely ashy notes dry out on the tongue and a mineral flintiness sits at the roof of your mouth.  The lemon from the nose comes through and brings with it a sweetness.  There’s no sharpness, just lovely gentle lemon with some vanilla notes making themselves known.


Long and dirty.  The meatiness fades, the lemon and vanilla remain, like a gentle touch of a gloved hand in winter.  The ginger is still there, still working it’s heated magic, warming as it goes.  The smoke and soot are what really stay the distance and keep you warm long into the night.

Overall Conclusions:

It’s Chriiiiiiiiissssssssstmas! What a dram, for me this is a fantastic example of the Christmas Big Peat, it gets better and better each year.  I need to own this and quick.  It’s young, no doubt about it and for me has a heavy amount of Caol Ila (I could be wrong, I think it has happened once before).  This is everything you would look for in a winter’s dram.  Just drinking it evokes the feeling of sitting in front of the fire telling many a winter’s tale.

Stewart – @StewartCraigon


The first thing you can notice is a sharp, lemon, citrus note the kind you get from lemon window cleaner as opposed a fresh lemon.  This gently fades away to leave the hallmarks of a white chocolate mouse.  The astringent notes comes through like nail polish remover, indicating that this is probably still quite young, but then they are married well with gorgeous smoke from a wood fire.


Starts off with all the pizazz of fireworks night.  It just explodes in your mouth, that fiery smell from a burnt out sparkler envelops the mouthNext up is the citrus from the nose a lemon meringue tart that quickly dissolves leaving your mouth hot and smoky.  The wood influence comes through next, the oaky goodness imparts a swathe of vanilla.  Finally some spice dances on your tongue like popping candy, before shooting off the roof of your mouth leaving you amazed.


The smoke is there for all to see or indeed taste, as is the heat.  This warms you up beautifully almost encouraging you to not put the glass down

Overall Conclusions:

A wonderful addition to the range, a much meatier chap compared to his younger brotherAbsolutely sublime a must have in your life.  The Christmas Big Peat is starting to become a tradition, up there with the Queens Speech and leftover turkey.  You know that snowmen are just around the corner when you see this hitting the shelves.  Fantastic.

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