Isle of Raasay is a relatively new Inner Hebrides distillery founded by Alasdair Day, which began distilling in September 2017. As this is the first in a series of three posts, we’ll further discuss the distillery’s distinctive approach in the next posts.
Since we have three sets of matching casks exploring unpeated and peated single malt, these will make for three posts exploring the Isle of Raasay spirit in the three cask types: Virgin Oak Chinkapin Oak, Ex-rye casks from the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, KY and Ex-Bordeaux red wine casks.
Chinkapin Oak (Quercus Muehlenbergii) casks take me back to an experiment actually featured on this blog, as one of the Glenmorangie Wood Experiments of 1993 is an oak who’s effects on the whisky are very close to what I experienced with this cask. In the Glenmorangie experiment, Dr. Bill Lumsden tried the effects of five types of oak, one of which is Quercus Stellata, or Post Oak. While these are not the same type of oak, they seem to have a very similar effect on the whisky.
Isle of Raasay Virgin Chinkapin Oak, 27 Months (Cask Strength)
Appearance: Deep gold, Viscous thin legs.
Nose: Thick vanilla, heavy oak, it’s very earthy with moss and Wet dirt. There’s also a very interesting combination of nuts and mushrooms. This one is definitely different.
Palate: very powerful on the palate with a lot of the earthiness with an almost floral quality.
Linger: Sweet and deep, with vanilla and spices. It lasts very long as a finish, which would be pretty predictable given the strength.
There’s alot of promise here, though more as part of future vattings than or its own.
Isle of Raasay Peated Virgin Chinkapin Oak, 31 Months (Cask Strength)
Appearance: Gold with slow legs running off a sturdy necklace.
Nose: smoked Vanilla Custard with some pine forest floor. There are hints of the same mushroom and moss we found in the unpeated expression, but gentler.
Palate: Far beyond its years.This is rich and sweet And almost creamy. there’s a tad of that funk, but the peat and the Vanilla really make this work. This Cask is basically ready for drinking.
Linger: Gentle Spice, with a hint of vanilla and the peat filIs the mouth.
Wow! This Whisky shines! I added a drop of the unpeated ex-rye to it and it replaced the damp earth with something dryer. This one could definitely make it on its own as is, but in a vatting this will bring some real character to the Isle of Raasay single malt.