Homeblend #9: The Clydefrog

by Matti

I like peated whisky. I also like blending whiskies. So, one of the first things I did when I started blending was try out different blends containing peated whiskies. It turns out peat and smoke are flavours which are hard to work with. If you use just a little it’s not so bad: you get some smoke in the nose and finish and maybe a bit of peat and spice in the taste. Really good if you want to enhance a whisky, but not really peaty.

When using larger amount of peated whisky, one of two things tends too happen: either the peated whisky completely and utterly overwhelms the other component, turning the blend into a slightly less powerful version of itself, or the peat reacts in a weird way with the other flavours and makes the final result a (literal) bitter dissapointment. This week I’ll be featuring two blends with a large peat-influence which will try to avoid this fate.

A graphical representation of Vatted homeblended whisky 'The Clydefrog', a vatted (blended) malt containing Clynelish 14yo and Laphroaig Quarter Cask

The Clydefrog is a fairly simple vatted malt: 3 parts Clynelish to 1 part Laphroaig. I’ve chosen the Quarter Cask version as it is already more rounded and a little less brutal than the 10yo (if there is such a thing as a ’rounded’ Laphroaig). I’m nosing & tasting it after letting it marry for 8 days.

The nose is interesting. Not the expected smokiness, but rather forest fruit (raspberries) greets you, then there’s sea air and ozone and finally the tiniest hint of smoke. Mouthfeel is quite prickly, but not unpleasantly so, just not as smooth as I would have expected with this much Clynelish. The taste is all over the place: first there is ripe fruit. Then salt, peat and smoke make their presence known, but get stiff competition from clover honey and spun sugar. When you add water the prickly character diminishes and the flavours become stronger across the board. The finish is cool and slightly sweet. At the very end both component malts leave you with their calling card: smoke from the Laphroaig and wax from the Clynelish. You’re left confused, even after multiple tastings.

Aye captain, it’s a wild one. It’s not necessarily a very good dram (due to the spirity mouth-feel and disjointed taste), but it has a vibrant, lively quality nevertheless.

Blend score: 3 Drams, Interesting

Stay tuned for a more ambitious blend later this week, containing not one but two peated malts!