Whisky Review: Douglas Laing Scallywag

Douglas Laing Scallywag

image via Joshua St. John/The Whiskey Wash

Independent bottlers offer unique presentations of familiar drams and complete reimaginings of tired labels. As risky as these bottlings can be, there are a few independent outfits who have made a name for themselves by bringing quality and consistency to the forefront.

Douglas Laing & Co has been in operation since 1948. While their considerably deep modern day catalogue offers a variety of single malt bottlings, the company is perhaps more commonly known for their range of signature blended whiskies, referred to by Douglas Laing as Remarkable Regional Malts. Rock Oyster is the Island region’s entry into the series. The lineup is further rounded out by The Epicurian (Lowlands), Timorous Beastie (Highlands), and the appropriately named Big Peat from Islay.

Scallywag from Douglas Laing & Company is a blended malt Scotch whisky representing the Speyside region of Scotland. A blended malt is one of the five categories of Scotch whisky officially recognized by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). Defined in regulations back in 2009, a blended malt Scotch whisky contains a combination of single malt whiskies which originate from separate distilleries and no grain whisky.

Additionally, the Speyside designation on the label indicates to the consumer that all of the single malts involved in the process were distilled in the Speyside region. Specifically, the distilleries of Mortlach, Macallan, Dailuaine, Inchgower, and Glenrothes are named as contributing to the blend. Ex-sherry butts and ex-bourbon hogsheads are used in the maturation process. Douglas Laing & Company presents Scallywag without the addition of coloration or the use of chill filtration.

Tasting Notes: Scallywag by Douglas Laing & Co

Vital Stats: 46% ABV (92 proof), no age statement, 100% malted barley, available around $60-$70 per 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: Soft, bright corn and copper hues with medium legs.

Nose: Buttery sweet initially. Sherry makes itself apparent as the nose opens up in the glass after a few minutes. Light flashes of wet, green oak late.

Palate: Moderately oily mouthfeel. The palate opens sweetly with dry sherry taking the lead above malty vanilla with orange zest and transitions quickly into spiced and vegetal notes. Black pepper, charred oak, freshly cut grass clippings. The oil leaves a feel of ash on the tongue into the finish, which is suitably dry. The burn is of medium intensity and decays a bit too rapidly for my preference. Aftertaste is of malt and black pepper. There is a hint of a tang late not unlike licking the top of a 9-volt battery.

Final Thoughts and Score/Buy A Bottle:

Score: 80/100

Buy NowA fun blend, though a bit uneven. Brings to mind a wet dog shaking himself dry in the living room. While there is not a tremendous amount of depth to the dram overall, there is something amusing about it. No doubt, there is a certain level of charm in the presentation. Let’s be honest. Who among us can resist a dog grinning to reveal a single remaining front tooth while wearing a monocle?

I love what Douglas Laing & Co bring to the table as a producer. Their products are presented with style and accompanied with crucial information regarding their contents. As malt blends go, however, Scallywag is not the head-turner I had hoped it would be. Perhaps the mistake was mine for allowing my expectations to run ahead of me. If you should find yourself in need of a blended malt, you could do far worse than Scallywag. Unfortunately, for the price you can also do a lot better.

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