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Douglas Laing’s Provenance Dailuaine 8 Years Old

I’ve reached a point where my preferences in spirits tend to be on the spirit-forward side. Hence my attraction toward more flavorful single malts like Loch Lomond, Mortlach, Edradour, and Clynelish. I don’t really have trouble acquiring bottles from the first three distilleries. But Clynelish, regardless of who bottles it, is quite inaccessible for me.

Aside from a lot of good independent bottlings (IBs), I think it’s also largely due to there being a regularly available distillery bottling, the 14 year old. Meanwhile, I’m not aware of any Dailuaine distillery bottlings. The closest would be the Flora and Fauna range. But, even though that range is produced by Diageo, it’s not considered a distillery bottling.

Also, I’ve had my fair taste of Clynelish, while I’ve only had about two or three different expressions of Dailuaine. As a result, I’ve been trying to look for an alternative single malt that might have a similar profile. Looking at lesser-known distilleries’ production specs and reputations, I’ve set my eyes on Dailuaine.

Why Dailuaine? Clynelish and Dailuaine are both workhorse blender’s malts from the Highlands, owned by Diageo (yes, Dailuaine is a Speyside distillery, but Speyside is part of the Highlands). As a result, both are mostly only available via IBs. From what I’ve seen in the wild, it’s more common to see ex-sherry cask bottlings of them… which I get, as the distillery DNA is strong enough to not get taken over by the cask influence. Especially if it’s a first fill ex-sherry cask.

The larger factor that made me look into Dailuaine – and why it mostly goes into blends – is that it’s considered a “dirty” or “meaty” single malt. Finding shell and tube condensed-single malts with this profile is quite rare, since most of them tend to be on the lighter side. Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, and Macallan are some of the best-known examples.

Aside from both Clynelish and Dailuaine distilleries using shell and tube condensers, both also undergo longer-than-usual fermentations, and also use wooden washbacks. Dailuaine’s fermentation time is 75 hours, which makes it longer than Clynelish’s shortest fermentation time of 55 hours.

Why do fermentation times matter? Short answer is longer fermentations = more congeners = more flavor. What’s the significance of wooden washbacks? Wood is porous, which means yeast and bacteria can seep into the wood and create its own unique environment. This can help create flavors unique to the distillery. For a longer read, see this old article of mine regarding fermentation.

Douglas Laing’s Provenance Dailuaine 8 Years Old – Review

Ex-refill hogshead. Distilled August 2009. Bottled August 2017. One of 400 bottles. 46% ABV. USD $43locally.

Color: Hay.

On the nose: A bit hot all throughout the nose. With it, I get mild and quick aromas of graham crackers, Korean barley tea and cereals. At the end are mild and slightly longer aromas of sapodilla, lemon peel and a floral grassiness which makes me think of a mix of elderflower and lemongrass.

In the mouth: Not nearly as hot in the mouth. I get an oily texture that’s made better by mild tastes of fruit salad with cream, cereals, Korean barley tea, and an assortment of nuts. At the end is a quick burst of malty flavor that makes me think of stout beer.

Conclusions:

A bit disappointing on the nose, with the lack of complexity and that persistent heat. Other than that, I like this whisky. It makes me wish this is what the typical Korean barley tea that’s served in Korean restaurants here would taste like.

I’d call this a meaty whisky, rather than a dirty one, since I don’t get any “off” flavors. An example of a “dirty” note would be the soapy notes coming from Clynelish. Instead, I get a stronger taste of the barley-rich distillate. Being only aged in an ex-refill hogshead, I really get the distillery DNA, which I’m not familiar with yet due to my lack of experience with this single malt.

Just based on this expression, I’ll be open to trying more expressions from this distillery. Because this is only 8 years old, I’m curious what an older version of this would be like. I’m also interested in a variant aged in first fill ex-bourbon casks, to see how the distillery DNA would interact with stronger bourbon notes. Now that I’m able to travel more again, I hope to find more bottles of this in the wild.

Scotch single malt is still getting more popular despite how crazy the prices are already. Hopefully, this single malt won’t end up being as popular as other blender’s malts like Clynelish and Mortlach too soon.

Score: 6/10

(7/10 considering the price)

Thanks to Scotchwhisky.com for the production specs. Lead image courtesy of whisky.com.

CategoriesSingle Malt
  1. Jungwoo says:

    As a reader from South Korea, South Korean barley tea is quite a welcome surprise in whisky tasting notes. Thanks for another great article, and I’ll have to keep a look out for both Clyneish and Dailuaine bottles.

    1. John says:

      Thanks, Jungwoo. For me, South Korean barley tea is the closest flavor descriptor I can mention that just expresses pure barley flavor. I can’t think of other barley products that don’t have flavor additives.

      If you ever go to HK, their duty free has a lot of Douglas Laing single malts. I saw a bunch of Dailuaines there.

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