Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The last half-inch: Dun Bheagan 2002

I've been meaning to review this scotch for a while now.  I even took a picture last week.  See?

This particular glass of drink was a lovely audience while I practiced a few 6/8 sets.
 Somehow, though, I ended up with a mostly-empty bottle of scotch on the kitchen counter.  It astounds me every time.  I leave it there, and it gradually evaporates over a couple of weeks (at best).  Evaporation is slowed somewhat by keeping it in the cupboard next to the Ouzo, I've discovered.  Regardless, there I was, looking at the last half-inch of lovely golden peaty yumminess, feeling sorry for it.  Fortunately, I had a clean glass on hand as was able to rescue those lonely couple of ounces from their vacuous imprisonment.

This is Dun Bheagan.  It's an 8-year old single malt scotch from the Islay region.  I have gone through several bottles of the stuff, even though it's not available on the shelf in my local LCBO's.  Whenever I'm out of town, I look for it and bring home a few bottles.  In my reasonably uneducated opinion, it's one of the best scotches one can buy for under $50.

It has a lovely reddish-gold colour to my eye, and sticks nicely to the glass,  slowly and gracefully sliding down after a swirl.  The nose is pretty mild, compared to the taste.  Somehow, all I can think of is soap when I smell it, but a mildly flower-scented soap.

Okay, fine, I admit it -- I'd consider it as an eau de toilette.

At first sip, this scotch stands out as something different from the everyday.  It has something to say, but it's not quite as aggressive as Ardbeg, which I must find again to review someday.  It is peaty, gently smoky, warm, woody, slightly nutty and just a hint medicinal when it hits the tastebuds, but a few moments later, it blossoms into a big flowery mouthful of forest glen after an early autumn rain.  It has a long finish, but not too long -- it leaves me wanting more.  It's a tiny bit spicy like cinnamon and allspice at the very tail end, maybe a bit of black pepper.  It's kind of like pfefferneuse (that's a cookie -- if you like this scotch, you'll probably love pfefferneuse).

I sip this scotch, and I feel like I'm in bed at an amusement park yelling AGAIN! AGAIN!  More!!!!

I like this scotch as neat as it comes out of the bottle, but for the purposes of this review, I added a drop of water to the last few sips: it definitely changes it and mellows it a bit, but I don't think it's for the better.  I taste more flowers, but also more soapy cleanliness. I like the big round fullness of the out-of-the-bottle dram.

In short, this is up near the top of my list for bang for my buck.  If you're going for smooth and subtle, this is maybe not your scotch.  But it also won't beat you over the head with a sock full of pennies.  Case in point, my friend who swore he hated Islays loves this one -- and he has tried other Islays since (although he won't touch Ardbeg).


  1. Finally a decent review of the Dun Bheagan 2002!! And from an Ontario girl no less!

    Thank you!

  2. Ardbeg in its many forms is simply delicious! (And a thumbs up for all drams Bowmore too.)