For a while, when Lucie (@douglaslaing_lucie) introduced me to the new bottle of ROCK ISLAND MEZCAL CASK EDITION, I thought to myself: "That was it, global warming is such that DOUGLAS LAING had managed to grow agave in the Scottish islands!
I also asked myself if it was not the series of THE EPICUREAN, SCALLYWAG or TIMOROUS BEASTIE (Sherry) that she had just proposed to me that gave me crazy ideas!
But where does this mysterious Mezcal come from? I was quickly reassured when she told me that the agave that was used to distill it and that was in the barrels of the finish were indeed Mexican (and not Scottish). She also reassured me that no gusano larvae had passed into the casks when they were transferred to Scotland.
Reassured, Lucie (and not Lucy, she wants to), told me that the result of this limited series of only 1500 bottles was no less successful. This is what we will see.
She told me that as you don't change a recipe that works, the base of this ROCK ISLAND has remained unchanged: take the best of the Orkney Islands, the Isle of Arran, Islay and Jura, to obtain a peaty maritime whisky and put it for a finish in a more or less atypical cask. I have already had the opportunity in these lines to let you taste in music and to accompany the ROCK OYSTER (now ISLAND) SHERRY EDITION (here).
Today we are going to taste its little brother aged in bourbon barrels and then in Mezcal barrels (without gusano) during 12 months.
When the liquid flows out of the bottle (adorned for the occasion with a pastel colored label and especially presenting agave feet and piñas still smoking around the usual pearled stoup), it is of a light golden color and reminds us of both a peated whisky aged in bourbon barrels and a mezcal aged a few years in barrels Nice reference
When approaching the glass, we do not joke, we are clearly in the presence of a peated and fresh whisky.
The first passage of the nose, confirms this feeling and clearly positions our lascar in the peaty category. Warm earthy notes mixed with a fresh saline touch. The whole accompanied by powerful peppery notes. It "moves" in spite of its 46,8 % of alcohol.
At the second passage it will refresh and develop lemony notes but still smoked of peat but here more agricultural than maritime which would remind perhaps our famous mezcal. But who knows, is it really peat or smoky notes of mezcal! The mystery is complete and only known by the LAING family.
In the third passage we are clearly on spicy, peppery and saline notes that our nose finds itself. All Mezcal that it is finished, it is nevertheless a ROCK ISLAND.
Before it enters the mouth it is preceded by the scent of heat and smoke.
On the palate, it is dense and mellow at first with marked notes of sweet fruit. But it quickly becomes taut and lemony. It is still as warm as the Oaxacan sun but with some bitter and pepper notes. These aromas will blend well with the peat and salt notes. The impression of this mezcal finish would be in the direction of increasing the salinity of the base island distillates.
Over time it becomes more honeyed but retains hints of lemon.
On the way down, the bitterness (certainly our mezcal effect) remains in the throat for quite a long time, but there are some smooth and velvety notes on the tongue.
In the empty glass we find our habits and our island and agricultural peat.
I must admit that this Mexican-style tasting did not leave me unmoved and even made me want to dive back into other distillates from the house of DOUGLAS LAING....why not a Big Peat?