A 6 Cask Lightly Peated Blend
My local whisky group has been all about this distillery since their launch. We were even fortunate enough to enjoy a virtual tasting with the distillery. We sampled all of the individual casks that went into this blend: Rye, Chinkapin, and Bordeaux. The Bordeaux was delicious and jammy where the Chinkapin had a really nice virgin oak spice to it. It was promising, albeit grain forward, even at 32-34 months old. A lot of thought and care was put into their spirit and cask selection and you can read all about it on their blog here.
That leads us to today and the release of their first bottling. They took all 6 cask types, 3 each of peated and unpeated malt, blended and bottled them at 46.4%. This attractive and unique bottle has no age statement but it’s a safe assumption it’s not far over the 3 year mark. On the bottle it calls out the highland peat used in it’s malt and makes note of their sandstone filtered water. The dimpled, rocky textured bottle showcases fossils to emphasize the Jurassic volcanic rock the Isle of Raasay is made up of.
One other fun fact is also listed on the bottle. The population of Raasay is 161.
I rested this for a brief 5 minutes in a Bruichladdich dram glass and did not add any water. Deep Copper in color with light/medium legs in the glass.
On the nose there was a big punch of floral honey to me. Bit of toffee and this mild lactic dark chocolate note. The peat smoke is way in the background, even further back than say a Highland Park. Apricot, dried stone fruits. Fresh green lumber smoke. The softest touch of salinity.
I immediately noticed the rather thin and watery texture as soon as I took my first sip. It’s a very diluted wine-like flavor. Dried fruits. Raisins and currents. A delicate floral bouquet is getting a bit mucked up from the peat. The peated ex-rye cask is noticeable to me here as the dominate profile. Very grain forward in this blend, likely due to the proof. That salt air note is there right in the back of your palate.
The peat on the finish started out really abrasive compared to the more subtle flavors. As you continue sipping it becomes more homogenized in profile. Very earthy, rich nuttiness with a pop of fresh black peppercorn. Fruits mix with that peat and you get a skip back and forth with each sip. One sip you get the clove and heat, another more fruits and honey.
Overall I have to say this is just ok. It’s not the most complex dram and the proof hurts it for me. It felt like the blend just couldn’t make up it’s mind on the palate. A mishmash of flavors that didn’t harmonize well and is saved by the finish. If not for the finish I’d say forget this one entirely. The grain forward spirit and watery texture made such a meh impression. It’s such a night and day comparison going from cask strength single casks to 46.4%. That richness is all but gone.
I really started to compare this to Finlaggan as I continued sipping. Finlaggan has a noticeably higher peat content but more importantly a focus in flavor whereas the Raasay seems a bit scattered in it’s blend. The Finlaggan is light and you can sit back and sip without caring much. The Raasay is very similar. It’s not a thinker and you can just enjoy it for what it is. It doesn’t do anything spectacular for me though. It’s just OK.
Try a sample just to see what Raasay is doing but pass on importing a bottle. Your money is better spent sampling the single casks instead.