After the success of #ProjectAFG the boys at Little Brown Dog Distillery have been working hard on their second commercial (I use that term loosely) release. Only 150 350ml flasks have been produced from the micro-micro distillery, based in West Aquorthies in the shadow of Bennachie.
This weekend we were to be hosting a tasting event focussing on the Isle of Raasay Distillery. Many of you will not have tried a whisky from this distillery, in fact 99% of you won’t have, as there is no whisky yet produced from the Island! Unfortunately due to an event in Japan, the event has had to be cancelled.
Not quite old enough, we will have been sampling cask-drawn drams of what will go on to become the first legal whisky from the beautiful Isle of Raasay. I have tried a couple, and they are top, top quality products. See my tasting notes below for more details, but first, let’s learn a little about this newcomer to the Scotch Whisky scene.
The Isle of Raasay lies in the Hebridean Islands, East of Skye. Home to a population of a little over 150, Raasay is the epitome of Scottish Highland scenery and folklore. Indeed, none other than Bonnie Prince Charlie fled to Raasay on route to Skye after the ill-fated Battle of Culloden. A successful escape for the Young Pretender was achieved, and R&B Distillers, owners of the distillery, are hoping for a successful young pretender to emerge from the same island.
Situated on the former site of the Isle of Raasay Hotel, the mantra of the distillery is focussed intently on the Island itself. Working with local crofters to supply 100% Raasay barley and using the same water source for production, cooling and cutting the whisky, this is a true homage to the islands landscape. At Raasay Distillery the water flows across volcanic rock and down through sedimentary rock to a Celtic well on site, known as the ‘Well of the Pale Cow’.
Raasay is a proud and conservative island, and the owners were determined not to leave an unwanted imprint on the land. Surveys were carried out on the wildlife including Roe Deer (of which the Island takes its name), Long Eared bats (which still reside in the Distillery loft!) And Otters before any groundwork was undertaken.
And now, only 150 years since the last known Illicit Distilling was taking place on the island, legal spirit is being produced and is agonisingly close to being ready. Spirit ran from the stills for the first time in 2018, using malt harvested directly from the island in 2017, and the first release is due for release in early 2021, pre orders are now available for the first spirit, a heavily peated (40ppm barley) Single Malt, for £99.
With an eye for experimentation, but a history steeped in tradition, R&B are honing in on pushing the boundaries of Scotch Whisky while staying respectful to their roots. Raasay & Borders Distillers are themselves rooted within these two iconic geographical regions of Scotland. With co-founder Alasdair Day’s great-grandfather hailing from the Hebrides and his other great-grandfather a whisky blender based in the Borders town of Coldstream.
Pushing the fermentation to a huge 115 hours, they have created a rich and fruity new make spirit with a hefty character long before the wood even gets a look in. The core range will then be matured in 3 different styles of Oak casks.
The future for the Raasay Distillery is certainly an exciting one, and it is a journey that we are delighted to be on board with. Hosting their tasting event this Friday is simply the first step in a new chapter for R&B Distillers. The book started behind the scenes a long time ago, much of the work to get here has been largely unseen by the world outside those 150 islanders.
But it is nearly here, ready to meet the world, in early 2021.
You may be reading this thinking that you have tried or seen a Raasay whisky before. And you would be right – how so? I hear you ask. While We Wait is an expression released by R&B Distillers in anticipation of the Island Single Malt.
While We Wait is a blend of two expressions from a single distillery, half peated and half unpeated. This has helped create the style of whisky that the distillery is producing. Artfully created and matured in French Tuscan Wine Casks they have produced a lovely whisky, designed to tread the water and whet our appetite for what is to come.
It has a beautiful pink hue to it, reminiscent of a Rose Wine rather than a whisky. A nod to the Tuscan casks former residents and a truly eye-catching colour.
On the nose are loads of fresh, red fruits. Redcurrants, Raspberries and Pink Lady apples. Bittersweet aroma’s amidst subtle sweet peat and a dunnage warehouse mustiness. It certainly has depth, it has body and character. A real mix of light fruitiness and bold dusty wood.
The palate brings a lighter peat than the nose. Enveloped wonderfully in those summer fruit notes. Strawberries & black pepper come through bittersweet raspberries and possibly glazed cherries.
Some oak bitter-tannic flavours come in on the finish leaving the mouth dry and sapping. Another sip is a must, leading quickly to another pour. A definite two-glass whisky!
Tweeddale 28 Year Old Evolution
Also in the R&B portfolio is the Tweeddale Blended Malt. Coming across account from his Great, great grandfather’s records, Alasdair Day was able to sink deep into his family history and recreate, after 70 years, this wonderful blend, available in 3 different expressions. I had the pleasure of trying the 28 year old, the oldest release to date.
On the nose comes vanilla, citrus notes and plums. In time more dark fruits come through the creamy light beginning. Evolving in the glass to open up more black cherries and some Black Forrest gateau sweetness.
The palate is rich, dark fruit cake. Cloves, oranges and soaked dates. It lingers wonderfully with a creamy mouthfeel that sticks around. As it opens in the temperature of the mouth dark chocolate turns to milk chocolate and some vanilla and nuts.
To finish there is a little oak, some grassy dry notes, perhaps from the grain influence, soft spices and a little fruit lingers. Medium in length and a touch of heat, likely from the 52% alcohol. Not unpleasant, but certainly obvious.
Single Cask Tweeddale Grain Peated Whisky (50%)
White wine oaky flavours on the nose, light peat, menthol, dried hay apples and bourbon sweets are all vying for prominence but work well in a balanced, refreshing nose.
On the palate comes a very soft peat, baked apples with cinnamon and burnt brown sugar.
The finish brings out vanilla and honey, somewhat missing in the main body, chardonnay grapes, oak notes and baked apple and pear. Light fresh smoke gets a nod but is nowhere near a prominent flavour.
1 Year Old Rye Cask Raasay Sample 62.8%
Spiced peat, warming hug of a nose. Leathery, musky and earthy coastal notes. Freshly dowsed bonfire smoke but there is something slightly sweet that is difficult to pinpoint. Perhaps orange peel with cloves.
Brandy baskets filled with smoky flavoured ice cream. Sweet and sugary with vanilla and salted caramel wrapped in a lovely smoked blanket. A warming, welcoming peat fills the mouth and cuddles the tongue, very little alcohol spiciness for such a young, immature whisky, especially from a Rye cask where I would normally expect a bit more intensity from the wood.
Dry on the finish with flashes of salted caramel and coastal sweetness. An alcohol reflux which is to be expected for such a young whisky, not too hot, nor unpleasant though it does leave a warm glow down the throat just verging on the good side of hot.
Don’t take my word for the quality of the Whisky though, released or not quite ready, we will have them available to try at the Inverurie Whisky Shop this Friday. Brand Ambassador and International Sales Manager for RB Distillers, Chris Hoban will be on hand to guide you. A truly historic event is coming, and we’d like you to be a part of the journey.
Unfortunately the event has been cancelled due to the Distillery’s commitments elsewhere.
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. So what do you do when handed a sample of Single Cask Oloroso Matured Whisky? Obviously you get home as soon as you can and create a line up against other Superb Oloroso Sherried Whiskies!
At the Inverurie Whisky Shop we are delighted to be able to work with lots of local talent, from the Whisky Distillers at Glen Garioch and Brewers of Beer Story at Insch to the Gin makers of Rothienorman, our post code holds a plethora of people at a genuinely world class level. Outside the world of Alcohol though is no different. We have had the pleasure of launching local author Duncan Harley’s historical books, Gareth Henderson of Strathisla Woodcraft’s creations and now we have the absolute delight of introducing Kimberley Smith’s KimberleyART products.
From placemats and coasters to tea towels and calendars, Kimberley is certainly making waves since her company started. Having recently signed up as a preferred supplier to the National Trust for Scotland, you may have already seen her works of art at places such as Haddo House, Crathes Castle and beyond.
At the Inverurie Whisky Shop Kimberley’s focus is, of course, Distilleries. At a networking meeting, I had the pleasure of meeting Kimberley and got chatting about her art and the potential for a collaboration. Needless to say she has lived up to the obvious potential. From an original set of four distilleries, her work this year has increased her offerings to more than double that – from our local Glen Garioch and GlenDronach distilleries to the Islay based Laphroaig and Bowmore. Speyside Distilleries Balvenie, Benromach and Dallas Dhu also feature. We are delighted to be working with Kimberley, and had the chance to catch up with her to give you the opportunity to meet the master behind the magic.
Where did you grow up and when did you first discover your artistic talent?
I grew up in a small rural village called Tarves, in the North East of Scotland. I was definitely a country girl, and I remember spending summers cycling to Haddo House and making forts out of hay bales!
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, all through primary and secondary school I was determined to go to Art School. However I ended up studying architecture at University to try and use my creativity for a more conventional career path.
Buidings feature heavily in your art, is this a direct influence of your architecture studies? What drew you to Castles and, more recently, Distilleries?
It was during my time at university studying architecture that I started to paint the local castles as part of a project, showcasing the local architecture. I found the history fascinating and loved how each place had its own unique character and story. After graduating I took a job as a project engineer but continued to paint in my spare time. I started painting distilleries more recently after visiting a couple of the local ones and realising how much history is behind each whisky, and that the distilleries are all so different from each other. I love trying to portray the character and essence of each place through my work, whether it’s a distillery on the coast of Islay or hidden in a glen in Speyside.
What was your biggest influence in taking the leap into business?
KimberleyART started up as a hobby to share my work online and sell a few prints. It has grown slowly over the years since 2016, but this year after meeting so many lovely people that are making a living out of their own creative business, I thought I’d love to do that myself. I still work part time, but am really enjoying seeing my hobby growing into a fully functioning business.
What has been your biggest achievement so far and where do you see KimberleyART progressing to?
My biggest achievement from a business perspective has to be becoming an approved supplier for the National Trust for Scotland. As I have painted most of their North East Properties I had always hoped one day my products might feature in their shops. Now, each castle has its own collection in their gift shops and I feel really proud when visiting one of the properties and see my work on the shelf!
Is their anything in particular in the pipeline that your are excited about?
At the moment I have a few new products that I’m excited to launch, including a ‘Distilleries of Scotland’ range featuring paintings from all across Scotland. Two calendars for 2020, one featuring distilleries and the other will be a selection of my favourite paintings from all around Scotland.
Of course, Kimberley’s work is available at the Inverurie Whisky Shop, both online and in store, and we are looking forward to introducing the Distilleries of Scotland range in the near future. Keep an eye out for more news from KimberleyART by following her Facebook at @Kimberleyartetsy
Hidden away in The Glenlivet Estate near the highest town in the Highlands, Tomintoul, in the heart of Speyside, this relatively new distillery (built in 1964) on the banks of the River Avon (pronounced A’an) has been a big hit with shoppers to Inverurie Whisky Shop, and remains a strong performer with its Core Range of Tlath, 10 and 16 Year Old Expressions. But they are much, much more than that…
Few occasions whet the Whisky Enthusiasts appetite quite like the Spirit of Speyside Festival. With hundreds of events from midnight tastings to blending masterclasses, the May holiday weekend draws in thousands of visitors to this most famous of Whisky Regions every year.
Originally built in 1821 on the outskirts of Thurso in Caithness, WolfburnDistillery is one with as rich a history as any in Scotland. Influenced in equal measure by it’s rugged coastal surroundings, it’s close links to Viking mythology and the history of the original distillery. Distillery Manager Shane Fraser and his team have built a brand and more importantly, developed a whisky as true to its roots as it is forward thinking and innovative.
Speymalt From Macallan Distillery, bottled by Elgin based Independent Bottlers Gordon and MacPhail, has been missing from the brands repertoire for a couple of years during a re-structuring of their core range products.
Bottled this year, after maturing since 2005, this has spent a full 13 years in the nurturing care of Gordon & MacPhail‘s meticulous warehouse team. Patiently waiting and defying all clamour to release and restore the brand. This was not coming out before it was felt it was right. And here it is.
After what seems like an eternity of waiting, the GD Batch 17 is finally here. I received news from the distillery on Wednesday that the release was now in store, and that all 14 Bottlings of the release were available from their Visitor Centre in Forgue, by Huntly. 7 Released for the UK & European Market, with 7 being exclusively for the Asian market. All 14 however are available from the Distillery. Very exciting news indeed and these guys re sure to be snapped up quick! Keep an eye out for the Inverurie Whisky Shop news on receiving our allocation in store! For a Full Cask List from the Distillery click HERE
SPEY DISTILLERY SCOOPS UP IWSC AWARDS
The Spey Distillery, near Kingussie have been awarded with a host of top recognition awards at the 2019 International Wine & Spirits Competition.
Available on the shelves of the Inverurie Whisky Shop, each of their Cask Strength Releases received recognition in the form of scores over 90 points out of 100 in each of there relevant categories. The Tenne, a Port Cask matured release, also received the Category Winner Award – a great achievement! Spey’s core releases of Tenne (Port) Trutina (Bourbon) and Fumare (Peated) are always popular with us and their limited editions really hit the mark. It’s great to see their efforts getting recognition! See our collection from this hidden gem HERE
GLEN GARIOCH NEW RELEASE AND LAUNCH DINNER
Having been privileged to attend the American Trilogy Release at the Glen Garioch Distillery (read my review HERE), I know that Glen Garioch know how to lay on a party. I’m sure that this one will be no different. Teaming up with the guys at Meldrum House Hotel, Glen Garioch are laying on a 3 Course Dinner and pairing each course with a fantastic Single Cask whisky from their repertior. The highlight of the evening will be the launch of one of the oldest releases from the Oldmeldrum Distillery – a 1978 Single Cask! Tickets are priced at £65 per person and are selling fast! Get your tickets and more information call the distillery on 01651 872294.
DEESIDE DISTILLERY CASK PURCHASE SCHEME
There are exciting rumblings afoot in the heart of Deeside. The first Whisky New Make spirit in over 200 years has been filled into casks and is resting with the sole aim of becoming the only Whisky from the Deeside Distillery. Only 100 Casks have been filled, 88 of which are available to buy through their 88 Scheme. The new make has been experimented on using Chocolate Barley, aged in an array of different casks for 18 months, and is getting rave reviews across the board – including the esteemed Charlies MacLean. It is all very exciting, with the casks selling fast. Anyone interested in the scheme please contact ourselves at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also the potential to join in the Inverurie Whisky Shop Cask Purchase scheme where we are looking for shop customers to join in a joint cask venture. Download the brochure HERE