ABV: 46.2% Bottler: Douglas Laing (Remarkable Malts)
Something strange has happened over the last couple of days. The sun, that much elusive celestial body (at least to the British) has decided to make an early appearance. Only a few weeks ago, parts of the country were under a thick layer of snowmageddon, and much of the rail infrastructure had gone in its oh so predictable ‘adverse conditions’ week-long coffee break. Spring appears to be entirely missing in action – it’s positively summery - plants and animals are not doubt starting to look a touch confused – “…do we come out now, or are you just tricking us?” I sadly suspect the latter, but, regardless this early tease of warmth has made for ideal conditions for a summer sipper - queue Douglas Laing’s Epicurean.
An epicurean is type of hedonist - with a particular penchant for deriving pleasure from food and drink. DL’s Epicurean bottling features an attractive, eye-catching illustration of a dapper looking fellow who’s apparently from the 1930’s. The bottling is the Lowlands entry into the company’s Remarkable Malts series – six blended malts designed to showcase the broad styles of the six whisky regions of Scotland. Like the other remarkable malts, its batch produced, un-chillfiltered and naturally coloured. It’s delivered at a pleasing 46.2% ABV.
Nose: Garden fresh, combining juicy pears with dried grasses and hay. Tart citrus and hints of ginger provide additional interesting aromas and are joined by some golden maltiness. Alas, there’s a very noticeable youth to this whisky…..charitably you’d describe this as copper coins/metallic, but in reality, this is pretty heavily dirtied with feints. A few drops of water improves things, emphasising vanilla, butteriness and light florals, as well as diminishing some of the rawness and metallic notes - but they never disappear fully and mar the otherwise enjoyable aromas.
Taste: A punchy arrival, but certainly with some bite (higher ABV sometimes a good thing, other times it just overemphasises rawness) that delivers some crisp and clear flavours – maltiness, tangy citrus and grapefruit and sweet honeydew melon. Then, some trademark Lowlands grassiness, butter and vanilla cream. Mid palate this is surprisingly spicy, with both ginger, but particularly pepper, which feels quite fiery when surrounded by flavours that you’d normally associate with a lighter style. Water reduces some of the aggressiveness, both of the alcohol and the spicing, as well as transposing the fruit selection more towards stone fruits.
Finish: Medium in length with crisp citrus, grassiness and a touch of rawness.
The Epicurean has some good, crisp and fresh Lowlands style aromas and flavours. It’s also got some boldness to it, being delivered at a higher ABV than one might expect of this type of whisky. However, there’s some brutally young whisky in here and the levels of rawness/feints are hard to miss, or to ignore. Nevertheless, there are some evocative, refreshing flavours here, and at around £35, you should not be overly afraid to try this in some longer drinks - I suspect it would sit quite nicely with ginger ale over lots of cubed ice.