Tag Archive: Raasay


Isle Of Raasay: Hebridean Single Malt Lightly Peated (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 46.4% ABV)

Visual:Pale gold with a touch of overripe banana skin colour. Moderate speed and thickness streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Salt. Wet moss. Viscous alcohol. Raisins and dry sherry. Vanilla. Rye crackers. Brown bread. Touch of smoke. Alcoholic raspberries. Water makes peppery. Menthol touch and more smoke.

Body: Honey. Dry sherry. Red grapes. Strong alcohol. Slight sour green grapes. Dry beef slices into a more broth character. Fudge. Raspberry coolers. Slight dry alcohol. Water adds strawberry and more raspberries. Slightly oily.

Finish: Dried beef slices in crusty white bread. Smoke touches. Dry sherry. Touch of alcohol. Vanilla. Menthol touch. Peppery. Water brings out brown bread. Rye crackers. Slight oily. An orange juice touch. More water brings out a touch of malt chocolate.

Conclusion: Well this is an interesting one. There are a lot of different oak ageing influences, a mix of peated and unpeated and a new distillery to me here all in one package. So, how does this mix of things come out?

Well, let’s deal with the bad side of things first. There is still a rough edge to this spirit – expressed in ways that vary from a viscous alcohol in the aroma to a drier alcohol backing on the body giving a slight rough edge behind everything. I’m guessing it has enough younger spirit in this no age statement whisk to explain why it has some grain whisky like touches, which is not a good look in a single malt. None of these elements completely go away with water.

However, and this is a big however, there is so much going on here to examine. I don’t know if it maps mainly to the varied barrel ageings and is being used to overcompensate for those flaws mentioned, or it this is just part of the distilleries house character and will just expand and grow as time goes on, but there is a lot to get into here. I wonder if all their expressions with have similar complexity of barrel work or if we will ever get to see a more pure expression of the house style of whisky itself?

Anyway, Initially this has a salty, mossy, lightly smokey island character but that soon finds itself just another layer sitting on top of a red grapes and dry sherry character, which itself then opens up into alcohol soaked raspberries, sour grapes and a touch of orange. Already so much going on here. It is generally very dry, with evidence of that alcohol mentioned before but when you already have that dry spirity sherry character it seems less evident and sandwiched between the contrasting fruity character and light smoke you find it less intrusive than you would imagine.

Nothing in this whisky is very sweet – there are some fudge hints but it is more restrained in how it expressed that for the most part, and uses rye cracker and peppery notes to hold down any sweetness getting too present.

It results in a dry expression overall, with savoury notes and dry beef working its way around the core that somewhat call to a more gentle Islay . However that core is such very clear dry sherry and associated fruitier notes that this cannot be mistaken for an Islay, even a muted one.

So, this is rough edged and feels a tad youthful in places, but nestled in there is an expertise of barrel ageing that gives layers of Island salt and smoke over sherry and a dry fruitiness which is then over a peppery rye baseline and the whisky slips between and intermixes these three layers frequently.

An unpolished gem, but still high quality despite that. A good whisky as is, but my mind is on what they could do if they manage to smooth out those edges. I will keep my eye on this distillery in the future

Background: I tried the Raasay “While We Wait” a while back, which was not from Raasay, but more using other whiskies to try and express what they were aiming for. Anyway, having now tried this they are very different things, so whoops on that. Anyway, this, while not their first release, is their first regular release and I managed to grab a bottle from Independent Spirit before their stock ran out. Which it did. Very quickly. These seem to be in high demand. This is no age statement, natural colour and non chill filtered, but what makes it really interesting is the barrel ageing. This has a mix of both peated and unpeated whisky, both of which have been aged in rye whisky casks, chinkapin oak casks (I had to google that one – seems to be the new hotness of odd barrels for whisky ageing – a type of white oak native to central and eastern North America – couldn’t tell you yet what its influence is, but I am interested to learn), and Bordeaux red wine casks. That is a lot going on there. According to the box, this had a three to five day fermentation and uses mineral rich water that gives sweet blackberry characteristics before it even touches the oak. Would have to try some that had more standard ageing to be able to tell how true that is, but an interesting promise. I wanted some lovely music for trying this, so went with the ever experimental and wondrous Ulver – in this case “Flower’s Of Evil”. Probably my second favourite of their albums, and with the quality of their albums that says a lot.

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Malt Musings: Upcoming Whisky: From Raasay and Boarders

Something a bit different today, I am doing first impressions rather than full notes. The reason why is that these are two new whiskies from Independent Spirit‘s Raasay’s tasting night. Bias Warning: As before I was allowed to try these for doing notes by Independent Spirit for free. Anyway, I have a feeling these may be the follow on releases from Raasay’s While We Wait and Boarder’s Single Grain – however nothing is confirmed yet, so the final releases may be very different from what I tried and these may just be an intermediary step. So, more a state of play than anything else, but I figured the chance to do a glance on these should not be passed up.

Single Grain:

Visual: Pale gold.

Nose: Banana. Vanilla. Walnut cake. Still alcohol touched but smoother. Sugar dusting. Menthol. Toffee.

Body: Sweet toffee. Sherried Raisins. Mild alcohol presence. Water makes thick and viscous. Fudge. Rum. Treacle. Walnuts.

Finish: Sherry trifle. Dry oak. Water has alcohol air and spicy rum.

First Impressions: So, what I guess will be the next boarders release is here. Good news – the cardboard and rough elements are way down. Still a few notes when neat, but fair sorted out with water. It is much fruitier, but in a selective way – the Oloroso sherry oak is doing good work here bringing out lots of raisins and such like. Oddly it means that the brighter fruit single grain flavours are nigh completely lost.

Instead it gains a real thick, treacle, spiced and sherried trifle expression. I don’t think I’ve run into such a sherried single grain before and it gives quite an almost molasses like experience. It is a bit one note but intense. Water is still needed, but less so and to better effect.

It needs a bit more time in the oak for balance I feel – to hopefully give more subtlety- there are hints of walnut and soothing fudge now, but I feel with a bit more time it could build up to become something very nice. As is, it is like being shot out of a cannon – a heck of an experience, but needs the rest of the elements to make a while show.

Definite improvement, bodes very well.

Single Malt:

Visual: Rose wine.

Nose: Cherry pocked biscuits. Pencil shavings

Body: Rose wine. Still noticeable alcohol. Water adds vanilla fudge. Orange zest to marmalade.

Finish: Rose wine. Alcohol. Cherry pocked biscuits. Some smoke and menthol. Water brings malt chocolate, fudge and slight dried beef.

Conclusion: Now this definitely follows on from the While We Wait – it has the similar rose wine and cherry pocked biscuit character that makes me as sure as I can be that it is the inheritor to its mantle. It is slightly smoother, and even neat this is more recognisably whisky like that its precursor.

It seems more complex as well, slight smoke darker notes, slight orange zest lighter notes – more is coming out of the fray. It is still a bit alcohol dominated, even with water, but I’m finding myself enjoying this one a lot more. The more easily found whisky character and feel means that it isn’t just as one note with the rose wine influence.

Unlike the precursor I think I would return to this – the alcohol could do with some smoothing, but considering this is a high strength whisky I can give it some room on that. With water it is better, but not 100% removed, but I’m sure a bit more time will help that out. Another good bit of progress. Worth trying as is, and again, signs of good things to come.

Raasay While We Wait

Raasay: While We Wait (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear rose wine.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Rose wine and glacier cherries. Perfume. Vanilla toffee. Pencil shavings. Stays the same with water.

Body: Smooth, with some alcohol to the middle. Rose wine. Perfume. Malt chocolate toffee drinks. Light wood. Water makes smoother and adds more toffee. Cherry pocked biscuits. More water adds light treacle.

Finish: Light charred wood. Alcohol numbing. Vanilla custard. Water brings out rose wine and light white grapes. Cherry pocked biscuits and light treacle.

Conclusion: This is my second dram of this. I have found that the first pour out of a bottle tends not to be the best, so I have taken to doing notes on the second dram onwards where possible. The first drink came across as quite perfumed, and turned out a bit simple and unappealing – just perfumed frippery.

This dram? Well it is still fairly perfumed, which is not my favourite way of doing things, but not intrinsically bad. The rest of the whisky? Well it has pulled itself up a bit.

The main thing, which I think is also what gives such a perfumed character, is the unusual barrel finishes’ influence. Lots of rose wine styling, lots of cherries. It doesn’t really change that much with water, will get to what does change in a moment, but in general it just gets clearer and a less alcohol touched base to work from.

The main thing that the water does change is bringing out a more recognisably traditional whisky style base. It is much more identifiable as what you would expect with toffee sweetness and a treacle thick set of notes – a more typical expression that the atypical rose wine flavours that they enhance. This pretty good progression – neat it is still too perfumed, this gives it some depth.

So, neat it is still not quite for me, but it is interesting. With water I can appreciate it though – not the fanciest or best put together whisky, but the more traditional feel helps. Though I will say the traditional feel and the rose style notes don’t mesh perfectly, but it manages ok. Hope when they turn out their own whisky they balance it a bit better, but for now it is an interesting enough holding pattern to turn out.

Background: Ok, picking a region for this one was difficult. Raasay is a new distillery on, surprise, the island of Raasay. So, obviously this is under the Island set right? Nope. You see the Raasay distillery has only just opened, their whisky will not be showing up for a long time. This is a mix of peated and unpeated whisky from an unnamed Highland distillery – so that is what I have listed it under. It is also finished in Tuscan wine casks. I know nothing about Tuscan wine, but it sounds interesting. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to the odd noise to music ambient thing that is Clonic Earth.

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