There’s a strong historical link at the core of everything Raasay and Borders Distillers do. Co-founder Alasdair Day’s great-grandfather, Allan MacDonald, hailed from the Hebrides and his other great-grandfather, Richard Day, was a whisky blender in Coldstream dating back to 1820. Today’s generation, R&B Distillers, built a new distillery on the Isle of Raasay last year (their first whisky will be ready in 2020!) and have ambitions for another in the Borders.
In the interim, they’ve bottled some examples of whisky which they hope will reflect what they’re trying to do with their own make. Let’s have a look…
Raasay While We Wait Single Malt 2018 Edition, 46%, £50 here
Tuscan Red Wine Cask Finish
Colour: Clouded Gold
Nose: Slight whiff of peat smoke gives way to autumnal berries. There’s sharpness here too, and a slightly springy green feel. A small grating of lime zest in a far-off bag of grass cuttings.
Palate: Based on the nose, I was preparing myself for sharpness that didn’t arrive (in a good way!). Fears of past negative experiences of wine cask maturation negativity are quelled with toffee, sweet stewed plum and the suggestion of citrus (orange this time).
Finish : Dry, subtle peat initially, and diminishing stewed fruitiness…
Overview: Given the company’s modus operandi, I can certainly see where they’re going with this. Not too big on the peat and delivering pleasant fruitiness. Regular readers may be wondering if “While We Wait” has convinced me to change my stance on wine cask maturation.
I’m keeping an open mind!
The Tweeddale Grain of Truth Single Grain, 46%, £40 here
Colour: White Gold
Nose: Bigger than I was expecting from a grain whisky. Orange dominates with a ‘darker’ bitter background and the faintest suggestion of aniseed…
Palate: Nice medium feel, some delicate spice in the form of ginger. Fruit arrives, a spoonful of stewed gooseberries and then a slightly nutty, bitter fade.
Finish: Short to medium, with the Oloroso dryness dissipating nicely.
Overview: The seemingly automatic question with all single grain is “Can it be as good as a single malt?”. It must be said that Grain Of Truth, in my opinion, can comfortably join the few on the ‘Yes’ list. While it could be argued that other releases in the category are lacking, the Raasay & Borders guys have clearly concentrated on what is in the bottle. Fair play to one and all!