Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review - 'Timorous Beastie'

The Timorous Beastie is a blended malt from the independent bottling company of Douglas Laing & Co. is the third such release and is made from a selection of Highland single malts including Dalmore, Glengoyne and Glen Garioch.  It joined Big Peat, made from Islay malts, and the Scallywag, made from Speyside malts.  Since its release there has been a fourth addition to the range, named Rock Oyster, which is made from a selection of Island malts.

Douglas Laing and Co. are a Glasgow based company that was founded by Frederick Douglas Laing in 1948. They are one of Scotland's largest independent bottlers. Until recently the company was run by Frederick's two sons, Fred and Stewart. Almost two years ago, the brothers decided to go their separate ways with Fred continuing with Douglas Laing and Stewart starting a new company called Hunter Laing. Douglas Laing release a number of ranges of single malt and single grain whiskies, including Old Particular single casks and the popular King of Scots blend.

The Timorous Beastie gets its name from the Robert Burns poem 'To A Mouse', which the famous poet wrote after disrupting a field mouse nest on his farm - "Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim'rous beastie, O, what a panic's in thy breastie! ..." .  The packaging continues the fun and humorous theme started with Big Peat and Scallywag.  It is bottled at 46.8% ABV and is available in selected specialist whisky retailers. The cost should be £35-40.

Our tasting notes
The colour is pale golden yellow and the nose is full of bold aromas.  The main ones are of crumbly brown sugar, raisins and robust malted barley.  Underneath are further notes of tangy green apple, burnt orange zest and cinnamon.

On the palate the whisky is immediately tangy and sweet.  The mix of these contrasting elements clashes slightly but melt together with time.  There is plenty of bitter orange peel and this battles with the crumbly brown sugar from the nose and some golden syrup-like notes.  Then come bittersweet and robust malty cereals and very green apple - this has a freshness to it, but also a slight hint of pleasant sourness.  This freshness makes the overall feel of the whisky feel light.  Some warming woody and earthy spices (think especially of cinnamon and ginger) add some late depth.

The finish is of reasonable length and is initially very sugary.  This sweetness fades to reveal the bitter orange, barley and warm wood spices.  This leaves a dry feeling in the mouth.

What's the verdict?
We like what Douglas Laing are doing with this range of blended malts - they are giving the consumer the flavours of each region in Scotland but also creating a sense of fun.  The use of the quirky and creative characters in the packaging and marketing is a step which makes Douglas Laing's products stand out from similar ones by its competitors.  

Timorous Beastie, like Big Peat and Scallywag before it, is not the most complex whisky but is not necessarily designed to be.  Especially when the price point is considered.  It has a pleasant freshness and sweetness that will appeal to a wide audience.  We now cannot wait to taste Rock Oyster, the fourth expression in the range.

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