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Hunter Laing Scarabus Islay

Blind Luck

5 191

@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

13th Apr 2020


Hunter Laing Scarabus Islay
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: user

  • Brand: Hunter Laing
  • ABV: 46%

This was the third and last blind sample I tasted from the trio provided by @cricklewood

Tasting was done from a Highland Whisky glass.

Tasting notes (neat and blind)

  • Nose: peat, smoke, iodine, red fruit (raspberries?), vanilla, limes, cherries, graham crackers. Fascinating nose with a lovely interplay between smoke and bright fruit.
  • Palate: hot on arrival, dark chocolate-covered cherries, ashy smoke, perhaps a touch of paprika
  • Finish: long, woodsmoke, barbecue sauce, paprika, herbal (rosemary?), dark chocolate lingering
  • Score neat: 91/100 I love the interplay here between peat, smoke, bright fruit and herbal notes.

Tasting notes (with water, blind)

  • Nose: campfire smoke, strawberries and cream, vanilla
  • Palate: chocolate-covered cherries, woodsmoke, walnuts, cigar ash
  • Finish: ashy smoke, creamy vanilla, cherries, smoked paprika
  • Score with water: 90/100


The initial aroma, neat, had me thinking this was some kind of Ardbeg, but the subsequent tasting, adding water, etc. had me doubting that very much. My best guess was that this was a young (10 years or younger) Port Charlotte. This was my favourite of the three blind samples, edging out the Kilkerran 15 by a single point. The combination of smoke and chocolate-covered cherries (to my palate) was a real winner. I thought this was bottled over 50% abv. It was not. It's bottled at 46% abv. This might lend some credence to my guess that this is a young whisky, and that's not a bad thing. Young Islay whiskies suit me just fine. During the reveal, @cricklewood told us that the Internet believes Scarabus to be a young peated Bunnahabhain or a young Caol Ila. I'm no expert, but I'd be kind of surprised if this turned out to be Caol Ila.

  • Would I accept a glass if it were offered? Absolutely
  • Would I order this in a bar or pub? Yes. There's enough smoke, chocolate and fruitiness to cut through the noise.
  • Would I purchase a bottle? Yes. I wish this was available in Ontario. Barring that, I may have to get a bottle of peated Bunnahabhain (Toiteach A Dha?) to compare with my notes.

Thanks once again to @cricklewood for his generosity. This was a lot of fun.


cricklewood commented

I wasn't sure which of the KK15 or this one you would like most. I was pleasantly surprised by this release.

The blending on this whisky is well done, I believe this was produced in a rather large batch and I find that it retains enough interesting character, more so than a lot of young anonymous peated whisky. I almost get a feeling there was a little refill sherry in the mix but that's likely just my mind playing tricks.

The rumour mill abounds with the supposed origin of this whisky, there are clues, Scarabus is a farm on Islay that used to house a distillery a long time ago, It is within proximity to the new Ardnahoe distillery. Which is itself close to Port Askaig, which is home to both Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila, both the two likely candidates for a bulk whisky purchase on Islay. Who knows?

4 years ago 5Who liked this?

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