Rock Oyster

Maker: Douglas Laing & Co, Glasgow, Scotland, UK20161007_111358.jpg

Distilleries: Isles of Arran, Jura, plus unidentified distillers from Orkney (Highland Park?) and Islay.

Style: Blended island (including Islay) malt.

Age: NAS

ABV: 46.8%

Michigan state minimum: $60

Note: Not chill filtered, likely not colored either.

Appearance: Pale straw with thick sea legs.

Nose:Peat, alcohol, smoke, sherry, seaspray.

Palate: Medium bodied. Sweet butterscotch, then brine, peat smoke and burn.

Finish: Peat, buttercream, then burn. Lang lasting.

Parting words: 68 year old independent bottler and blender Douglas Laing & Co had a big hit a few years ago with their Big Peat blended Islay malt. They’ve now followed up with other regional blended malts. Rock Oyster is the Island edition, as one might guess from the name. Islay is usually considered its own region and not a part of the islands or Highlands but Islay whisky (-ies?) are included in the blend here. This isn’t Big Peat Jr, though. The smoky, peaty, Islay malt is balanced with sherry, bourbon and maritime aromas to great effect.

It’s hard to get a single malt this complex for $60 in these parts. There’s nothing I don’t love about Rock Oyster. Highly Recommended.

The Arran Malt, 14 y/o

Maker: Isle of Arran, Lochranza, Arran, Ayrshire, Scotland, UK

Region: Highlands- Island

Age: 14 y/o

ABV: 46%

Notes: Non chill-filtered

Appearance: Bright new gold.

Nose: Wildflower honey, vanilla pudding, butterscotch pudding, heather.

On the palate: Full-bodied and buttery. Hard toffees, sweet cream butter, blondies, wild thyme.

Finish: Hot and buttery. Like freshly made caramel corn, not entirely cooled yet.

Parting words: Founded in 1995, Isle of Arran Distillers is one of the youngest distilleries in Scotland producing whisky. This 14 year old expression, released in 2010, is their oldest expression to date. It’s a good, solid single malt. It is firmly in the tradition of the Highlands with plenty of sherry and bourbon notes, but with the maritime tang of the costal malts. Isle of Arran is on the right track, and this is a good whisky for a distillery of any age. Isle of Arran 14 y/o is recommended.