NEW Whisky Alert – Raasay, Distillery Special Release

Review – Isle of Raasay, Single Malt, Distillery Special Release

Ilse of Raasay Distillery

Earlier in the year we reviewed the Isle of Raasay Distillery Na Sia single malt release. The first single malt to be distilled on the Isle, from a brand-new distillery that opened it’s doors in 2017. Following a 100% Raasay philosophy, they use Raasay water and barley whilst completing the distilling and maturation processes on site. As the year has progressed they have released a second vatting on the Na Sia, a number of single-casks, and finally their Distillery Special Release – Sherry Cask Finished Single Malt.

Distillery Special Release – Sherry Cask Finished Single Malt

The Distillery Special Release is an annual bottling from the distillery. Celebrating their full first year of whisky on Raasay they wanted this release to be something a bit special; their first ever sherry cask single malt.

Distilled 19/09/2018 the liquid was first placed in190L ex Rye-Woodford Reserve casks made of Quercus Alba American Oak for maturation. The spirit was then transferred to a mixture of 125L ex Ex Pedro Ximénez & Ex Oloroso Quarter Casks for finishing.

As always there is TONNES of useful information on the Raasay website for us whisky-geeks including the barley variety – Peated Concerto, 48 PPM – and yeast type. We highly recommend taking a look to find out those finer details about the whisky.

With an expected outturn of 8,000 to 10,000 bottles this small-batch release is coming just in time for Christmas presents!

First Impressions and Reflections

With a beautiful reddish-amber colour, this whisky looks amazing in a glen-cairn glass. The higher ABV of 52% vs. the 46.4% of the Na Sia, creates a lovely oily texture around the edges of the glass.

Much like with the Nia Six there is no denying that the Raasay bottle is both unique and stunning. The subtle differences on the box packaging between the standard releases, single-cask releases, and distillery special releases are delightful.

Nose: fresh red berries, dried red fruits, marzipan, clove, cinnamon, peppery spice, light peat
Palate: initially sweet, with lots of fruit-cake, almonds, raisins, poached stone fruits
Finish: sweetness gives way to a bonfire smoke, which builds as time goes on, coats all corners of your mouth

The sherry influence is immediately noticeable on the nose; providing depth in a young whisky. Texturally it really benefits from the higher ABV creating a heavy decadent feel in your mouth.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Nose: red forrest fruits, warming fire-pit, smoke, bramble
Palate: heavy texture, black forest gateau, kirsch, blackberries, raisins, plum, clove, apple fruit-cake, almond
Finish: spice on the finish is interesting like stem ginger, finish is long, and the smoke builds

Definitely a winter-y dram, with good depth on the nose. This certainly packs a punch with the nose and palate, the finish is a little more delicate but is a good way to round off another masterpiece from Raasay. This is up there with our favourite sherry bombs!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Final Thoughts

All in all this is a really nice dram. Earlier in the year we reviewed the Na Sia and concluded that we would like to see Raasay increase the ABV. As it happens this particular release is higher (at 52% vs. the 46.4%) and you can really tell the difference. A thicker whisky, which coats your palate with plenty of fruity notes.

If you love a sherry bomb whisky this will be right up your street, with a peppery-twist from the original ex-rye maturation. It is still available on their website for £85 if you fancy grabbing a bottle, and could be a fantastic Christmas gift for the whisky lover in your life!

Raasay Distillery is clearly going places, and we’re super keen to see how they keep iterating over the coming months. Looking forward to 2022 and beyond …

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