Yes, before you google it a ‘bed’ is the correct collective noun for oysters…
Which is exactly what we have here, as a trio of Rock Oysters sit on the tasting table.
Douglas Laings Rock Oyster is comprised of single malts distilled on Scottish islands including Orkney, Jura, Arran and Islay.
All are bottled at 46.8% abv (with the obvious exception of the cask strength) and as with all of Douglas Laing’s releases they are without colouring or chill-filtration, which is to be applauded.
Rock Oyster was first released in 2015, during which time I’ve always meant to buy a bottle but it’s just never quite happened. I shall need to remedy that soon.
Rock Oyster, IB, Douglas Laing, NAS, 46.8% abv, press sample, available here.
The nose has a very strong coastal presence. The peat is strong but not overwhelming with distant phenols. Theres a nice sweeter element here too. Pink wafer biscuits and some powdered sugar.
The palate is ashy, but its quite restrained and soft. It is mildly drying but with some sweet undertones. If you remember Walls Soft Scoop ice cream then theres a taste reminiscent of that, along with some vanilla, cinder toffee and some soft grassy and mineral tones.
The finish pleasantly fades away, no surprises or off notes here. Peat smoke and soft coastal air fade away into the distance. There is a slight fruity tone at the very end, vaguely peachy, which mixes well with some honeyed baked ham.
Rock Oyster, IB, 18 yo, 46.8%abv, press sample, available here.
Much like the standard expression, this one contains the same mixture of island malts but now at the minimum age of 18 years old.
The nose is full of smoke, with some zingy elements of citrus fruit and some toasted oak. The sea spray element is still there but this time there is a slight difference. If you’ve ever been on a working pier amongst the drying fish nets and ropes then you get what I mean.
As before its a heady mix of ashy, mineraly and tangy elements. Seems a little less sweet than the NAS version at times. The meaty element seems more prominent.
The finish is much deeper and lingers longer than the NAS, almost has a really soft BBQ sauce element, much meatier than before but still restrained and refined. Theres a few burnt vanilla notes here and a faint grassy element.
Feels much richer in nature. Light at times, dark at others. Some serious ying / yang going on.
Rock Oyster (Cask Strength) Batch 2, NAS, 56.1% abv, press sample, available here.
Rock Oyster Cask Strength Batch 2 is matured in American oak and bottled at 56.1% abv.
Straight away you can tell it is much punchier. The higher abv really pushes the flavours on the nose. The peat is bigger but still tempered and the coastal breeze has become a full on gale with a slight grassy feeling. There are good elements of malt and a distinct sweetness after a little time. There is a fruity element here, almost peachy in nature, alongside a faint herbaceous note.
The palate has turned from an ashy influence to a slightly more sooty one. Feels like the peat has become a bit more dirty in nature (not a bad thing) and the citrusy notes have now become a little darker and more akin to oranges. There is a solid mouthfeel here and a great earthy feeling. Smoke drifts in and out of the palate.
The finish is long and deliciously lingering. The brine has now come to the fore and gives a great tangy feeling. Theres a big twist of white pepper here and a soft vanilla underneath it all.
I know this is all about the Oysters but I’d happily pair a bottle of this with a huge plate of olives and prosciutto…
In terms of sheer drinkability then the original is hard to beat. Well balanced, characterful and fun, just what a blend should be and probably my favourite of them all.
It’s fun to see the different characters emerging in the other expressions however, a lot of fun to try them all.
Rock Oyster Cask Strength Limited Edition Batch 2 will be available from specialist whisky retailers as of August 2018. 8400 bottles are available with an RRP of £49.99.
This review forms part of a tasting organised by GreatDrams.com on behalf of Douglas Laing to celebrate the release of Rock Oyster Cask Strength Batch 2.
You can catch up with the other online events by searching #ItsDramTime #Rock Oyster and #GreatDrams on your preferred social media platform.
Find many more tasting notes and whisky news in the Amateur Drammers Archives.
Prefer to recieve monthly updates? Why not join my mailing list?
Want to comment on my article? Feel free to Contact Me.