Torabhaig whisky from Skye is among the new spirits reviewed by Peter Ranscombe.
IT’S time once again to dip into my notebook and share some reviews from recent tastings.
Ahead of its release on Thursday, the second malt whisky from Torabhaig distillery on Skye is among the spirits I explore in the latest in this occasional series of articles.
There’s a bit of a rum theme too, with a rum created by a “cabal” of Scottish enthusiasts, and a spirit that brings togethe rum and whisky…
Torabhaig Allt Gleann Single Malt Scotch Whisky (£50, independent whisky shops)
Following the launch of its inaugural single malt back in February, on Thursday Skye’s Torabhaig distillery will release the first of four bottlings due to appear over the next two years. The lemon aromas on the nose of the Allt Gleann are much brighter and more definite than they were with the Legacy Series 2017 Inaugural Release, although there’s still plenty of peat, TCP, and wood smoke to thrill the island whisky fans. On the palate, the citrus flavours are joined by green apple, roast meat, and more definite vanilla and honey notes, alongside a hit of peat. The overall effect is lighter on its feet than I was expecting, with a drop of water bringing out more of the sweet vanilla and the smoke.
X by Glenmorangie (£29.95, Master of Malt)
Whisky’s affinity with cocktails continues with the launch of X by Glenmorangie, a version of the Highland single malt designed especially for tall drinks. For me, there’s more fruit on the nose, centring around mandarin and lemon. The sweet honey and vanilla are still there, but the fruit is left to shine. On the palate, those sweet vanilla, coconut, and honey flavours come marching back to the fore. There’s the usual harmony between the oak and spirit flavours and the warming alcohol, though perhaps with more chewy marshmallow on the finish. I’m left thinking it’s quite an enjoyable dram on its own… Edinburgh-based bar operator Mothership mixed it with grapefruit and maple syrup for its launch back in April, which brought a smoky note to the nose, alongside tonnes of citrus. The mix of sweet and sour on the palate kept the whole shebang really fresh and moreish.
The Drinks Lab Strange Bedfellows Spirit Drink (£35 for 500ml, drinkslabspirits.com)
What happens when whisky meets rum? That’s the question posed by batch 001 from experiment 001 from The Start-up Drinks Lab, which was launched in 2017 in Port Glasgow by Hannah Fisher and Craig Strachan to help fellow entrepreneurs launch drinks brands. Now, they’re expanded into “out of hours spirit experiments”, including this mix of 60% rum and 40% single malt Highland whisky. It’s got a whisky-like lemon hue, and then sweet vanilla, fresh lemon, heather honey, and cereal on the nose. There’s warmth on the palate, and a slight black pepper spice. Sweet vanilla, more cereal notes, honey, and coconut carry through onto the finish to create an interesting mix. A bit more like a lowland malt than a rum for me, and great fun to boot.
Cabal No 1513 Rum (£39.95, Master of Malt)
Staying with rum, and another interesting whisky connection. This time, it’s a combination of aged rums from Guatemala, Guyana, Panama, Trinidad, and the Caribbean, which have been married together in pedro ximénez sherry casks in Speyside by Edinburgh-based Harpalion Spirits, which was founded by Richard Dixon and Claire Kinloch. Its attractive, warm nose is full of brown sugar, caramel, honey, nutmeg, dried peach, and prune. It’s got a light texture to accompany flavours of sweet spun sugar, richer brown sugar, and caramel. The result is easy-going, sweet, and rounded. There’s a nice chocolate orange note on finish, and definitely some sweeter PX sherry molasses touches too.
Dima’s Three Grain Ukrainian Vodka (£35, dimasvodka.com)
And finally, a segue from dark to light spirits, with a really impressive Ukrainian vodka made from barley, rye, and wheat. Surprisingly-expressive cereal notes on the nose, with lighter floral touches too. Refreshing citrus on the palate, with meatier cereal flavours, all leading to a creamy finish. It’s well balanced, with some heat from the alcohol, though nothing excessive. Good value too for the price, with the producer recommending serving the vodka with snacking pickles.
Read more of Peter’s spirits, wine, and beer reviews on his blog, The Grape & The Grain