Boarders: Single Grain Scotch Whisky (Scottish Single Grain Whisky: 51.7% ABV)
Visual: Deep yellowed grain.
Viscosity: Many fast thick streaks.
Nose: Sugared almonds. Definite alcohol. Vanilla. Rum and raisin. Water makes smoother and more nutty. More water adds slight lemon cakes.
Body: Quite smooth mouthfeel despite the alcohol. Rum and raisin. Cardboard. Water adds raspberry liqueur. Gin. Soft lemon cake. Quite viscous still. More water makes more lemony. Some squeezed orange. Peach syrup and tinned peaches. Even more water adds pineapple chunks.
Finish: Rum and raisin ice cream. Cardboard. Alcohol air. Water adds a quite medicinal air, nutty and slightly rough. More water gives orange, lemon, watermelon Jolly Ranchers and dried apricot.
Conclusion: You really have to lay on the water with a trowel for this one. At over 50% abv for a single grain whisky that isn’t a surprise, but it is still worth pointing out. Ya know, just in case. What is surprising is that despite a distinct alcohol character you can still feel the viscous yet smooth texture to the whisky even neat. A good sign there at the start.
The rest of it – not so good neat. A slight cardboard like character, definite alcohol – you can feel a nice rum and raisin character there but it is overwhelmed by the rougher notes.
Progress with water is initially a mixed bag- rougher nutty comes came out which are kind of unpleasant and the cardboard, while it lightens, never fully goes away. On the positive side the flavour style definitely improves – less alcohol, more rum and raisin, then slowly lemon cake. Then, with more water, a full fruity burst that seems like grain whisky’s speciality style. Out comes lots of lemon, watermelon, peach – all backed by the gentle rim and raisin.
So, good? Erm, well, even with a ton of water it has those cardboard backing and rougher edges. I don’t know the age of this, but it feels young, and while I have had some very good single grain whisky over the past years; Whisky that has shocked me away from my preconceptions of grain whisky, they still seem far more reliant on age for quality than their single malt counterparts.
So, not one I can really get into. Its good points are always layered over that weak backdrop. It needs a better base before the, admittedly ok, bells and whistles can work. So not worth it, especially at the slightly higher price point this comes at. It needs a few more years I think to work out the rough edges, then maybe its strengths can shine.
Background: Like Raasay before it, this is not made at its named distillery. Instead being distilled at an unnamed Highland distillery and finished in Oloroso sherry casks. It is said to be an example of what they hope their whisky will be like when it is done. Apparently this is the only single grain scotch whisky to be made from 50% wheat and 50% malted barley. So they say. Bias warning – this was gifted to me after Independent Spirit’s Raasay whisky tasting night for me to take home and do notes on. As always I will try to not let that affect my notes. Many thanks for the whisky. This was drunk while listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor!’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven – very relaxing and vibrant music for doing notes.