June 9, 2015

Laphroaig Douglas of Drumlanrig

Quality Control

From now on we're only going to drink scotch that's personally selected and certified by nobility. How else are we going to ensure the proper quality of our malt beverages? We think this is a pretty reasonable measure. 

Luckily the Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry takes some time away from the goings-on at Drumlanrig castle every year to do just that. He visits the good folks at Hunter Laing and puts his seal upon a few choice barrels, which are bottled under the winged heart sigil of Douglas of Drumlanrig. The winged heart (FYI we're pronouncing that like "wing-ed" because it sounds cool), commemorates the bravery of Sir James Douglas "The Good" who was killed during the crusades. 

The good duke likes his Islay malts, and he likes them un-chill-filtered and free from artificial colouring, so he seems like a pretty stand-up guy.  

Douglas of Drumlanrig Laphroaig 15 Year

This Laphroaig was a limited release of 150 bottles distilled in 1993 and bottled in 2008...   

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Equal parts extra virgin olive oil, salt water, and peat smoke.  It has a lovely vegetal entry and then moves slowly into hearts of palm, some little hints of white grapes & citrus, and then builds into the smoldering salt water campfire rocks.  It's very subtle though and never overwhelms, it just sits there in the nose in an immensely approachable and enjoyable way.

Palate:  Some sweetness comes out in the palate with little lemon candies and honey. The olive oil sensation continues in flavor though the mouth feel is rather thin.

Finish:  A very well-balanced, if slightly forgettable finish. The 46% abv choice is noticeable and so mellow it borders on weak.  Mild peat smoke drifts across the nostrils and the garden theme continues with some fresh eggplant (? weird tasting note but that's what we got), florals (daisies?), and light ocean salt.  It's super drinkable, that's for sure, but by no means a beastly dram.


Duke of Queensberry's Crib - Drumlanrig Castle
This is a very nice bottle.  It would be the perfect introductory Islay malt for someone who does not have taste for peat smoke yet. It's delicate and has a lot of subtle things going on in addition to the smoke like farm vegetables and flowers.  On the down side it's a little watery, as the very pale color would suggest, and definitely isn't showing bold flavors. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a nice mellow Islay malt is just the ticket when you don't want to burn your throat with a killer peat-head bottle.

The only issue here is the price point / value. Over $100 is a lot to spend for an introductory dram, so this one is a little tough. For that coinage we'd probably veer towards buying a nice cask strength Laphroaig, and then if you're feeling like something more mellow just adding water yourself. You'd probably end up in a similar place. Some of these bottles were done at cask strength, but we didn't manage to track one down, so those may have been more up our alley.  Or maybe we've just been drinking too much barrel proof whiskey lately and we're jaded.  A few years ago we may have had a very different opinion.

Anyway if we put the cost out of our minds, this one is a very lovely malt. Good for some outdoor action on a warm day when you want something very drinkable and soft. A treat fit for...  well evidently for a Duke. It must be nice being a Duke.



  1. I really dig this bottle and loosely agree with the "introductory" angle, although I don't think it's less of a pour for it. It's a great example of what I personally really love about particular young Laphroaig: very nice delicate pours that don't always have to be a kick in the tongue. It's been a very long time since I've had it, but the Murray McDavid 11yr Ardbeg 1991 rings a bell here. Not sure if you have that open in your collection but I'd enjoy the chance to pair it with this. This Laphroaig is definitely a bit more on the band-aid / vinyl funky side if I remember correctly. Cheers.

    1. Hey Brock! It's definitely not your average Laphroaig. Much more refined, certainly in a different league from today's standard releases like 10 year and quarter cask. Refined is good, I could see my dad really liking this one since it's delicate and just a hint of smoke. Not sure we're racing to try it again unless we can track down the cask strength version though. Cheers!