Dec 15th 2021
Connas' Stunnas' Arbikie Highland Rye
New Distilleries are always an exciting proposition, there is an inbuilt sense of excitement and intrigue as to how their whisky will fair. Pair that with the current excitement around inaugural bottlings and their secondary market value there’s somewhat of a “perfect storm” of interest.
If you add to the mix the fact that the perceived value of a “grain to glass” approach is also a huge positive, Arbikie distillery tick all the appropriate boxes. All they need to do is knock up some tasty single malt and they’re laughing, right?
That’s all a bit boring isn’t it, every new distiller and his dog have been doing that to death in the last couple of decades! So, John Sterling and the team have decided to push the envelope even further and reintroduce Rye whisky to the Scottish Portfolio for the first time in over a century. No doubt, in corners where the “Single Malt Scotch Only” folks dwell this caused a bit of a stir, and to them I say…
“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it”
So I’m going to!
Arbikie Highland Rye 1794
Single Grain Scotch Whisky
Well pronounced with Lemon and Rye (unsurprisingly) and wheat. Delving deeper brings fresh sourdough drizzled with honey, allspice, and clove.
Medium feel, well integrated alcohol, and tongue coating flavour. Once again cereal led with rye grains and crusty wholemeal bread. Warming cinnamon with a pleasant underlying melon and mango and a modest lick of lemon curd.
The fresher fruits decline in a medium finish with a pleasant cereal and spice warmth.
Arbikie Highland Rye 4 Year Old
Single Grain Scotch Whisky
Medium pronunciation, signature rye with more fizzy lemon initially, quickly enveloped by cinnamon buns and a touch of peppermint with a far-off wheat field in the summer in the background.
There is continuity (with the first release) in feel and flavour presentation, but an altogether much fresher character. Iced lemon shortbread and wholemeal breadsticks, cereals and nutmeg, candied orange peel with allspice and mace.
Medium length with that lemon persisting and dried orange sprinkled with cinnamon.
Ok folks, lets address the Elephants in the room here…
- “Is Arbikie Highland Rye like Single Malt Scotch” – “No”
- “Is Arbikie Highland Rye like Single Grain Scotch?” – “No”
- “Is Arbikie Highland Rye like American Rye?” – “No”
So, what is it “like”?
Let’s not concern ourselves with what its “like” and worry about what Arbikie Highland Rye IS!
On assessment, it’s a very well-made spirit which presents with good balance between flavours from the mash bill, through fermentation, distillation, and maturation. There is no doubt that the folks at Arbikie know what they are doing and have executed a fine whisky.
What I will say it those among us who “like what they like” and “Stay with their usual brand”, there are huge movements in spirits at the moment, with great experimentation happening over all categories. There is much to be found, experienced, and enjoyed. If you put a gun to my head and forced me to make a comparison to this Arbikie Whisky, I’d be jibbering for a week before you pulled the trigger.
It has characteristics of a rye/wheat/malt mash bill traditionally seen in an American Rye, it has reflections of Pot Still Distillation seen in Single Malt Scotch, brought together excellently with maturation in a cold Scottish Warehouses.
I may not be able to quite put my finger on where Arbikie Highland Rye sits in the Whisky category. But I can tell you one thing.
I think I like it.
But that doesn’t matter, what matters is if YOU like it!
Go and try some!
Then we can talk about it!
See you soon.