This Douglas Laing bottling is a vatting of malts from the Isles of Orkney, Arran, Jura and Islay - the idea being to create an Island blended malt to perfectly illustrate that particular style. As with all Laing bottlings, it is non-coloured and non-chill-filtered.
The colour is a very pale yellow with lime-green highlights. The nose leads with a freshly ground pepper blend (black and red), and also features bright lemon, smoked hickory, pine needles and lots of brine. There's peat, but it's not exactly a big Islay bonfire; more heathery and herbal than smoky. Chili chocolate. Green coffee beans. Light vanilla. Oyster shells (of course). Very grassy. Water brings out malt, plus more saline minerality. All these notes stay within the briny, rocky, sea-faring theme so if that's what you like, you'll love it - but it stays within the lines.
On the palate we have Asian pear, sweet peat and a big hit of salt-and-pepper. Oily mouthfeel. Tons of lemon. Like the flavour of an oyster after it's been spritzed with lemon, only without the actual oyster - in other words you get all the brine, minerality and citrus but without the actual seafood. There is also green banana and a gin-juniper note. Spicier with water. Really delicious but like the nose, it remains pitched at a certain level and never deviates from it.
The endless finish is all pepper and lemon, with a hint of pine shavings. I love all the brine, peat and spice but it's a bit too light - it could use some balance with some heavier notes (sherry, oak, deeper fruits, etc). Bracing stuff, though, and while I wouldn't actually make a martini out of this, I would add some of this to one to give it more character.
Think I'll go back to my local LCBO to pick a bottle at the clearance price - 87 points for a $52 bottle seems like a good deal. Thank you for this timely review!
@Hewie, I think we talked about this a few months ago, but I've had The Six Isles and Rock Oyster side-by-side, and I liked The Six lsles a lot more. Rock Oyster has some zip to it, but The Six Isles is just a more complete whisky.