Isle of Raasay Distillery – April 2021, Peated Samples
We decided to split the tasting review in two as for the first time in any of the tastings we have done the drams were split into unpeated and peated. It was a really interesting way of doing a tasting and allowed us to see the individual components which are going into their inaugural single malt. On top of this at the end of tasting all six we were encouraged to make our own blend of the single malt, fortunately we had saved just enough to try. You can read about how this went further down!
As this is a new distillery with young spirit, we have made a note of the age of each of the samples below. All natural colour and non-chill filtered, each of these samples was cask strength at roughly 61% ABV, however the single malt will be bottled at closer to 46% ABV.
With our peated samples we were lucky enough to have two that had reached the minimum 36 months maturation point – legal whiskies in their own right!
The Peated Samples
For their peated spirit Raasay Distillery use highland peat – slightly less punchy than the Islay peat that the majority of us might be more familiar with. Each of these samples are between roughly 48 – 52 PPM, however, once they have been blended together they’re expecting closer to a residual 13.5 PPM. Very much in line with their ‘lightly peated, dark fruits’ philosophy.
Virgin Chinkapin Oak – 34 months
Ever heard of Chinkapin Oak before? Neither had we however, we will definitely go and find more whiskies that use this oak. It by Raasays own admission is it gives a smoother maturation than the usual American white oak.
Nose: smokey bacon, BBQ, meaty crisps, smells dark, definitely peaty but more like slightly burnt sugar
Palate: maple syrup bacon, bonfire smoke, a lovely sweet edge, dark chocolate and cherry, like American sweet BBQ ribs
Finish: a light finish, the peat gives away to the sweeter elements, less oily then some of the other samples
Feels like loud music in a dark American sports bar. This was definitely the star of the show for me – an absolutely amazing sample. Using highland peat at 48 to 52 ppm it has wonderful undertones of smoke. I would love to purchase a bottle of this as a standalone whisky in it’s own right. Some really complex smokey, fruity, sweet flavours at play.
Ex-Bordeaux – 36 months
This is the closest to the ‘While We Wait’ expression that Raasay released, and embodies the philosophy of ‘lightly peated, dark fruits’ well.
Nose: apple and rhubarb crumble, very fruity, cherry, blackcurrants, caramelised brown sugar, red apples with some light smoke
Palate: very very light smoke, really dark fruits, dark chocolate cherry, maraschino cherries, toffee, and caramel
Finish: lovely and oily, really rich and warming, this lasts longer on the mouth than the unpeated spirit and has more of the pepper on the tip of the tongue
Less sweet than the unpeated version, but feels more ‘grown up’ like an older sibling!
Ex Woodford Rye – 37 months
A rich and punchy dram, offering bags of character and one that will certainly compliment the other drams within the mix.
Nose: black pepper, butterscotch and bramble
Palate: buttered brown toast, saltiness and maritime air
Finish: very oily, great mouth feel, rich and warming, the peat is light and more like a BBQ
This was very palatable, but didn’t stand out to me. It is less creamy than the unpeated version. Adding a few drops of water into this certainly helped to open up the whisky, it is certainly a little punchier than the other drams we tasted. Whilst adding a peated smokey element the creaminess certainly moves into the background.
The ‘House Blend’
As previously mentioned, these six samples will ultimately be combined to make the Isle of Raasay Distillery single malt release. We were encouraged by our hosts to mix together our samples to see how all the different flavours work together. This is what we came up with …
Nose: light smoke, dark fruits, maple syrup, brown sugar, burnt butter, cherries, dark chocolate, BBQ fruit, sugar glazed fruit, maritime salty notes
Palate: SO sweet, very fruity, black pepper, very light smoke, definitely hints of BBQ in there, and dried Christmas fruits
Finish: wonderful mouth feel, very rich and oily, and warming, longer lasting as a group of flavours then they are on their own, brown sugar and very light BBQ smoke linger
I appreciate it’s very bold to give our own ‘house blend’ five stars, but the combination of these samples was E P I C ! If we were even half-way close to what the official single malt will taste like then this will absolutely become a house favourite.
Now all we need to do is get our hands on a bottle via the ballot …
A great tasting from a distillery that is fairly new, we are definitely going to keep an eye out for their journey moving forwards. We have seen they do some very interesting cask shares so we this could be a great way to discover more of what this distillery can offer.
Have you tried anything from the Raasay Distillery? Let us know in the comments.