North British is a 130 year old grain distillery jointly owned by Diageo and The Edrington Group, so you’ll find their grain whisky in both The Famous Grouse and in Johnny Walker (alongside Smirnoff Vodka). The distillery goes through 3300 tons of corn per week (and some malted barley, needed for every grain mash), and the corn is clearly evident from the spirit.
The distillery was founded in 1885 by Andrew Usher, John Crabbie of Crabbie’s Green Ginger Wine and William Sanderson of Vat 69, and eventually made its way into the Diageo corporate leviathan. When we talk about malt distilleries, the really big ones (Glenfiddich, Roseisle, Ailsa Bay, Glen Ord and Glenlivet) only produce 10-14 million liters a year. By comparison, North British produces 65,000,000 and Cameronbridge produces more than double that, 140,000,000 liters per year. So these are completely different scales of production.
This is the first Old Particular release of single cask grain whisky, and this series of four bottles are all from currently operational distilleries (Edrington and Diageo’s North British 21 year old, Pernod Ricard’s Strathclyde 27 year old, Diageo’s Cameronbridge 25 year old and Grant’s Girvan 25 year old). I got a sneak peek at the selection of the four grain whiskies, and will review them in this weekend series, starting with the North British.
Douglas Laing Old Particular Single Cask Grain North British 21 Year Old, Cask DL10797, 294 Bottles From a Refill Hogshead, at Cask Strength (50.9% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Light hay, thin slow legs with droplets clinging to the glass.
Nose: Corn spirit, vanilla, honey, soft spices (allspice and a shaving of pepper), fresh cookies and the sweet smell of a fairground with cotton candy, corn on the cob and honey roasted nuts with some orange potpourri and a faint note of paint thinner.
Palate: Sour and sweet, with chili pepper and some alcoholic burn and a very light grainy/cereal-y note in the back.
Linger: Light sourness on the palate with the lightest spice high in the throat with a slight salty note remaining.
This is a nice, very typical, grain whisky. The corn in evident on the nose and this is a good gentle sipper, perfect for a summer’s night.
Official sample provided by Douglas Laing & Co.