The 2014 edition became last years Christmas whisky for me. The one I bought to enjoy on late evenings at home, either alone or with friends who enjoy peated whiskies.
Nose: My immediate thought is that this vatting contains several young whiskies from Islay. There's a youthful character to this (I've noted crude alcohol and petroleum in my Norwegian notes, I usually associate both of these with young whiskies fresh out of the bottle), but the nose improves significantly after a few minutes in the glass. I get peat, leather and several types of smoke. The nose has an oily character, reminiscent of when you sharpen pencils.
The nose has a nicely balanced sweetness, with fruity notes of citrus. I also get herbal and medicinal notes, with earthly iodine. This is one of those whiskies where you can spend forever with just the nose alone.
Taste: This feels more potent than other cask strengths I've had, even if they had a higher ABV. The taste is salty and maritime (sea spray comes to mind). Smoke, peat, herbal, the same earthy character as before. This is deliciously oily.
Finish: Oily through and through. The finish is salty at first, and a sweetness picks up where the salt left off. Herbs and peat.
Note: Adding water to this takes away some of the rawness, making it a bit sweeter while at the same time improving the maritime character I thought it had. For me, this is actually a rather well balanced whisky, but the highlight of this dram was without a doubt the nose.
I'm glad you had good luck with this 2014 version. It sounds like a winner.
I believe you and I talked about this one on a discussion thread when you first ordered it, and I confessed some serioius disappointment with the 2011 version. I'm down to the last ~15% of that 2011 bottle now and I'll just note that it hasn't gotten any better. It has this weird, off, sourish(?), "down" note that really dominates and ruins it for me. I'm done trying to get anything out of it and now I'm just waiting to dump those remnants into some home blends that I have in mind.
If I saw another really strong review of the 2014, I might just buy without tasting. (Last I checked, Binny's was still selling it.) But as it is, I probably won't pick up any other Big Peat without tasting first.
I'd still really like to know how small the Port Ellen contribution is!
Thank you for your reply, @OlJas. A definite winner for me, even if it was on the pricier side of things here in Norway (The 10 year old Bowmore Tempest, 55+ ABV, is some £15 cheaper. Silly, right?). I enjoy young peated whiskies, they seem to be able to get away with a lot more than the unpeated ones.
Yes, we discussed the 2011. Too bad it didn't improve over time. I think Douglas Laing & Co would do their consumers a favor if they released miniature bottles of their cask strengths as well, but I suppose independent bottlers got more than enough going on in the first place.
This is the review that made me order a bottle: whiskysaga.com/big-peat-christmas-edition-2…
I'd still consider tasting before you buy it, seeing how you had a bad experience with the 2011 edition.
Regarding Port Ellen, I'd take a guess at "a drop in the ocean", haha!