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Big Peat is a blended malt, sometimes called vatted malt, from Douglas Laing & co. The bottle features a bearded Scotsman (presumably named "Pete") wearing a sweater. It is unchil-filtered (yay!) and I don't think there's any mention of E150a, but this is so lightly coloured, almost clear, so I'd venture to guess it's bottled at natural colour. Which single malts are in this blend? According to the company's website:
With Caol Ila spirit bringing sweetness, Bowmore the perfect balance, Ardbeg the medicinal, earthy quality and Port Ellen, a degree of elegance, Big Peat represents all that is Islay in a bottle. Fred Laing tells us that of course, there are a couple of Blender's Secrets in Big Peat too – but even after a few drams, he won’t share that info – and so it remains our peaty little secret!
So what's the "secret"? Laphroaig? Lagavulin? Bruichladdich? Bunnahabhain? I guess we'll never know. But more importantly, how does it taste?
- Nose (undiluted): smoke, peat, with citrus fruits and sweet barley grain behind it. Graham crackers perhaps. Smells like a toned-down Ardbeg. With time in the glass, a faint bacon aroma develops. I like this.
- Palate (undiluted): slightly oily texture yet still somewhat light-bodied. It's a bit briny, however there are lots of deep, dark flavours here; it's ashy on arrival, develops some pepperiness, and a touch of tobacco.
- Finish: somewhat drying, black pepper, tarry, slightly antiseptic, with some very dark chocolate ( > 85%) and coffee flavours lingering.
I did not, at any point, add water to this whisky. It did not need it and I didn't want to add any. My only criticism, and it is an admittedly minor one, is that it didn't have an overly wide spectrum of flavours. Most of the flavours are deep, dark, smoky and ashy. There seemed to be a bit of "high end" lightness lacking, especially on the palate and finish. Now this isn't a dealbreaker for me, as it tends to be the type of flavour profile I gravitate toward anyway, but I feel people should be aware of it. Big Peat's "flavour colour" or "pitch of flavour" is closer to Laphroaig Quarter Cask than it is to Lagavulin 8 Year Old, if that comparison makes sense. There's a stark contrast between the colour of this whisky and its flavour. I don't think this is currently available in Ontario, but I'd buy it if it were.
Thanks to @Nozinan for giving me this (mostly? half?) full 200ml bottle of Big Peat to taste extensively.