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Douglas Laing Rock Oyster

Context is everything

4 387

@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

27th Mar 2019

1

  • Nose
    22
  • Taste
    22
  • Finish
    21
  • Balance
    22
  • Overall
    87

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Distribution of ratings for this: user

  • Brand: Douglas Laing
  • ABV: 46.8%
  • Batch: 11

This was the second whisky I tasted from the blind samples sent to a few of us by @fiddich1980 and it was the one that fooled me the most. Of course, I had sampled the wonderful Compass Box No Name just before this one, so my palate wasn't exactly calibrated.

First Tasting (Blind)

Neat from a Glencairn glass

  • Nose: Light, bright, fruity, with a little grassiness in the mix. Red apples, strawberries, raspberries, cream. This is not familiar to me in any way, except for the grassy note that reminds me a bit of Highland Park, but I'm not really getting any smoke at all. With time, the fruits seem to get darker. Is there a Macallan component here? Dalmore maybe? No, I'm not getting oranges or cinnamon, so I don't think it's Dalmore. Perhaps some Glendronach, as the darker fruits come through.
  • Palate: Medium-bodied, fruity, with some malty cereal notes, honey, a very slight soapy note. Glenrothes? Aberfeldy? I’m really no good at this blind tasting stuff.
  • Finish: barley, chocolate, a little nuttiness (I want to say this is a nuttiness I recognize from Glen Garioch, but I can't be sure), gentle smokiness maybe, although it could be lingering smoke from the previous sample, more red fruits, some graham crackers. Lovely
  • Best guesses: Glenrothes, Macallan, Glen Garioch, Glendronach, Highland Park
  • First Tasting Rating: 85/100 points

So the reveal left me a bit sheepish, but the actual components are Arran, Jura, Laphroaig (rumoured), and Highland Park (rumoured).

This first blind tasting of Rock Oyster showed just how important context is. I had tasted Compass Box's No Name before this one, and the big Ardbeg smoke (the key component in No Name) and 48.9% ABV probably made me "blind" to the less prominent smoke in Rock Oyster.

Second Tasting

Neat from a Highland Whisky Glass

  • Nose : medium smoke and iodine that says "Laphroaig!", berry aromas, graham crackers, whipped cream. Reminds me of a dessert in the 1980s, when everyone smoked in their houses, even at children's parties. Delightful.
  • Palate : medium bodied, creamy texture, red fruit, graham cracker crumb pie crust.
  • Finish: smoky at first, developing to nuttiness (hazelnuts?), then strawberries and raspberries, and returning to the ashy, peat notes. A bit of chocolate lingering as the smoke hangs on.

This is an absolute treat. I like this a lot. It's more enjoyable with a "clean" palate. It's more well-rounded and balanced when I can detect the smoke, yet my original notes aren't that far off. Those tart raspberry and strawberry notes are still there, especially on the nose.

Second Tasting Rating: 87/100 points

I'd say the second rating is more reliable as it was done under clearer conditions. I would buy a bottle of this whisky without hesitation. It's interesting, hits the right notes for me, and is well-balanced.

3 comments

Wierdo commented

Rock Oyster is a whisky on my list to try. I've heard the 18 in particular is very good.

I find blind tastings interesting. How often do people get it right? Rarely I'd say. I think a lot of our whisky perception comes from our knowledge of the brand we're drinking.

6 months ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Wierdo the only one I was close to correctly identifying was the Compass Box No Name. I correctly identified that there is an Ardbeg component. No Name was easily my favourite of the four samples @fiddich1980 sent me (via @Nozinan)

6 months ago 0

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 commented

@Wierdo Rock Oyster 18 is not as muddled as the standard Rock Oyster, more fruitier. There is more intensity of flavours but, not as many sharp flavour elements. The 18 is a much more homogenous and unified blend. This was my impression courtesy of @Robert99.

6 months ago 0

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