If you have listened to me in the past you will know I have a respect for the independent bottler Douglas Laing ! The quality they keep offering the customer is second to none ! As an indie bottler they have set the standard for a long time in my eyes and with some of the finest stocks of privately owned single malt / single grain whisky anywhere in the world, they are a power house within the whisky industry..
I often hear people talking about the official bottlings been the one’s to chase but I beg to differ, my opinion is it does not matter who actually releases the liquid as long as it gets released !! Independent bottlers such as Douglas Laing have for a long time released whisky that gives us a better understanding of the what is produced within the walls of any distillery. Just imagine if these indie companies hadn’t bought the stocks of closed distilleries, would we still be seeing the likes of Port Ellen, Rosebanks and Carsebridge releases for example ? possibly but in far less numbers, I imagine Douglas laing are one of the very few companies with stocks remaining of Port Ellen..
Founded by Fred Douglas Laing in 1948, the company soon gathered a reputation of selling some of the finest whiskies available. In 1950 along came Fred Jnr, who was always destined to follow in his fathers footsteps just as his daughter Cara is doing today. Fred Jnr joined Whyte and Mackay in 1968 in order to do his apprentiship, this is where he learnt his way and discovered the art of blending and gained his understanding behind the process.
1972 was the year Fred Jnr re-joined his father at Douglas Laing, and began the process of learning the intricate details of the independent bottling company his father had started, a process he would later pass onto his daughter..
The company releases whisky under a few banners for which the XOP is the flagship, Xop stands for Xtra Old Particular and only adorns the finest casks the company has to offer, sold as single casks, cask strength and fully natural, these casks are always sought after and always come with a quality guarantee in the sense we know these are hand picked for quality.
Built in 1963 this grain distillery can be found in the town of Girvan, south Ayrshire and is located in the Lowland region of Scotland’s whisky regions. This distillery really does change the pre conceptions of whisky production, the figures show the scale but it is still hard to actually understand the enormity of what you read, with the capacity to produce 115 million litres of alcohol per year this distillery totally out shadows the single malt distilleries we conceive as big !! For example Glenlivet produces around 21 million litres per year, Glenfarclas is at 3.5 million litres per year, Aberlour sits at 3.8 million litres per year and Ardbeg is a mere 1.4 million litres.. So that figure once again is 115 million litres of alcohol per year from the 6 column stills, and this is every year, staggering isn’t it !! Fermentation time comes in at around 60 hours.
New make comes off the stills at 94.5% and goes into cask at 69%, 74% and 80%. The make up of grains is predominately wheat with around 8-9% malted barley used.
40 year old Girvan from Douglas Laing – XOP
Age.. 40 years
Distilled.. May 1979
Bottled.. May 2019
Cask.. Re-Fill Hogshead #1338
Outturn.. 317 Bottles
Nose.. Butterscotch sweets and espresso coffee instantly come to mind with a deliciously inviting maple syrup and waffle aroma, dark chocolate, pecan nuts and toffee apples all making this a seductive, enticing nose that just grabs you and demands that you take a sip..
Palate.. A spicy entourage leads perfectly into an old fashioned sweet shop, candied orange, pear drops and butterscotch once again demand to be showcased, pineapple, banana and vanilla ice cream give this a wonderful sweetness, add a little honey and you have a dangerous recipe..
Finish.. It doesn’t !
Thoughts.. This just exuberates elegance in a way that only old grain can, those buttery, spicy aromas/flavours just encapsulate the senses, they send them into overdrive and with every minute you spend with these exceptional liquids you just have to sit back and smile..
Old grain whisky can be very special, extremely pleasing and this is no exception, 40 years spent in one single cask has only made this liquid come alive, it has its own identity and if it could talk it would tell us a thousand tales.
Don’t just dismiss this because its a Single grain whisky, embrace it, appreciate it, spend the time to understand it, that way you wont need to be so narrow minded and look for its weakness.. Its glorious grain whisky at its best..