Big Peat & Laphroaig Elements 2.0 on Taste; Highland Park in Istanbul

Hello everyone

Well, there were meant to be more samples on taste this week but I‘ve been away and now have a rotten cold. It‘s not fair to write a note on someone‘s new whiskies with a blocked nose. At least these two below were done in advance.

First one this time is a new expression from my former brand, Laphroaig. They‘re experimenting with certain elements of the process and this one, Laphroaig Elements 2.0, focuses on fermentation which was 115 hours here instead of the usual 55 hours. It‘s also a high strength bottling at 59.6% alc. vol. My thanks to manager, recently departed from the distillery, Barry McAffer for letting me have a sample.

Appearance: Pale gold/lemon juice, rather like white Burgundy. Tears very clingy and slow to form.

Nose: From the sample bottle, mellow peat smoke, toasted coconut and oak. In the glass is a young nose which fadesthen florals, fruity – green apple and honey; touch of coconut. Yeast, vegetable cooking water (fades), soft peat smoke. Sweet smoked almond notes and powdered sugar. With water, softer – smoke fades and returns; more soft powdered sugar notes; baked apple and honey; some vanilla and a dab of apricot jam.

Palate: Definitely smoky; spicy; oak; a little dark chocolate bitterness. Wood char but also oak vanilla sweetness and earthiness plus some tannin; wood shavings, a little salt and fresh ginger.

Finish: Long, tongue-tingling;peat smoke and dry with char and wood shavings. Richly peated barley maltiness lingers.

The extra fermentation time seems to give more fruit and mellowness. I won‘t say it takes the edges off – it‘s just not neutered i.e. a little too simple or harsh as a couple of expressions have been in the past. Sadly, I didn‘t have any Elements 1.0 (which highlighted mashing and fermentation, being made in two sizes of mash tun and with two types of wort, cloudy and semi-cloudy) for comparison. This is a very enjoyable expression and one I‘d be happy to drink again though budget might be an issue. Expect to find it around £159 – £170 at UK prices.

Also at Laphroaig, planning permission has been sought to expand the distillery and improve the visitor facilities. The works proposed are rather extensive. Certainly, when I looked after the brand‘s marketing a few nips and tucks were made to improve the kitchen and meeting spaces but nothing on this scale so it will be great for it to have such a massive investment. The work is going to be done in stages but with no production stoppages so I‘ll look forward to seeing it all when done.

Still with Islay malts, we move on to Douglas Laing & Co‘s Big Peat The Thropaigeach Edition. Try saying that name after a few drams or if you‘ve had numbing injections at the dentist. It‘s bottled at 48% alc. vol. and, as usual, no chill-filtration or added colour. It‘s been finished in former rum casks and that does show through in the fruit, sugar and toffee notes.

Appearance: Pale white wine colour with lemon juice highlights. Tears slow at first then faster and quite close together but they do remain sticky.

Nose: Sweet smoke; demerara and icing sugars; a touch vegetal; some wax and a tiny hint of sulphur. With water, some sugar sweetness, caramel and soft toffee. A touch vegetal still but it fades. Pencil wood sweetness; dark honey and tropical fruits as well as dark fruits. Chocolate and coffee plus a slight hint of citrus zest.

Palate: Quite sharp at first but settling quickly into tropical fruits, treacle toffee and coffee grounds; warm spices.

Finish: Long with smoke and char. Not as overtly smoky as some previous Big Peats.

I enjoyed this one. Big Peats are always interesting bottlings but some more enjoyable for me than others. It was showcased on Islay during Feis week at the Peatzeria restaurant in Bowmore and at the Islay Gaelic Centre but, sadly, only on days when I wasn‘t there. Pricing should be around £65 or 75 Euros and it‘s been available since May. Most definitely worth a try.

A Facebook posting from Martin Markvardsen, Senior Brand Ambassador for Highland Park, showed a new shop for HP at Istanbul airport. I asked him if I could show it in a column then other things got in the way so here‘s a pic or two of it now. If you‘re wondering what‘s in the display case at the front it‘s a 54 Year Old Highland Park. Do give the shop a visit if you‘re in Istanbul airport when you go on holiday. The 54 year old whisky is the creation of Edrington‘s Gordon Motion. Only 225 bottles were produced and suffice to say it will cost you a very large sum if you‘re interested.

I refer above to Laphroaig‘s Barry McAffer as „recently departed“ from the distillery. Barry is keen to spend time in other parts of the world and not just his native Islay. He got an offer from a company in South Korea which wants to expand from brewing to distilling though he‘s not moving to South Korea till July, I believe. We‘ve agreed to keep in touch on the project. No word yet on his replacement.

Lastly, the long awaited revamp of Rosebank is finished and the distillery opened earlier this month. I haven‘t yet had the chance to visit but will report back when I do.

Till end of this month, happy dramming.

Slainte mhath,



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