There is no doubt English whisky is on the rise. It is still very much in its infancy but it is definitely getting to the point where it is becoming a serious prospect and is gaining traction in the market. The thought of an English whisky is not looked at so skeptically as it was, even a few short years ago.
With that in mind here are a couple of recent releases from south of the border.
First up it is East London’s first single malt whisky from the East London Liquor Company.
East London Single Malt Whisky, OB, NAS, 47% abv, press sample.
This is aged in a combination of ex bourbon & rye casks from Californian Distillery Sonoma and ex-bourbon casks from Kentucky. The press informations states it has been double pot-distilled.
The nose is rather faint and initially indistinct. It is floral, light and grassy initially but almost feels somehow like it is without the sweetness of the flowers. There is quite a herby presence here, alongside touches of wet moss, oranges and damp malt.
The palate feels very thin. The herby nature reveals itself again with big hits of fennel and dill, giving a feeling reminiscent of cheap grappa. It is rather spirity and the fleeting notes of butter and vanilla do little to tame this, the time in these casks has done very little to mellow the spirit. Some very underactive casks at play here.
I get the bourbon cask influence and I get the rye cask influences too, but it just feels like a disjointed mish mash rather than any kind of fusion.
£80 will buy you a bottle of the first single malt from East London.
Reading thorough the press information it proudly states that ‘the East London Liquor Company has always stood against expensive mediocrity’
Secondly we have the latest release from The Lakes Distillery.
I have reviewed only one of their products before, the rather unimpressive Steel Bonnets Blended Malt.
Let’s just say I’m hoping for better things.
Whiskymakers Reserve No1, Lakes Distillery, OB, NAS, 60.6%abv (press sample)
This was matured in both red wine casks and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, with American, Spanish and French oak components. 5922 bottles were released, it is non chill filtered and is bottled at natural colour.
The nose is rather rich with some big orange and red berry influences in amongst the nose prickle that a 60% + abv brings. There are underlying notes of oak, sweet malt and cocktail bitters. There is something rather reminiscent of an Old Fashioned here. Given a little time and a splash of water there are elements of gooseberries, distant pear drops and gorse flowers.
The flavours of the palate immediately fill the mouth. There are touches of oak and cedar as the wood dominates initially. A nice, sweet vanilla bourbon-ness mixes well as it moves from sweet to tannic with a handful more berries (raspberries this time) and the first introduction of spice, with a sprinkle of cinnamon, faint cloves and a faint ginger.
Ginger and pepper start to really pop in the finish and the lingering woodiness starts to dominate, this time with touches of cask char and the faintest drying spice.
To be fait this is a pretty well integrated younger whisky. Yes, it is a touch punchy (even watered down it feels a bit stronger than it actually is) but that is the youthfulness coming through. There is a lot going on cask-wise here but it is reasonably well rounded and other than quite a woody upturn on the finish is really rather good.
Youthful but flavoursome, I’ll admit to being quite impressed with this.
Price wise it’s perhaps a touch high but in comparison to other distilleries early offerings it represents reasonable value at £65.
It is well on its way to selling out unfortunately and no doubt will have done so by the time this is published but apparently Whiskymakers Reserve No2 is on its way and based on this showing, will be well worth trying.
You can find more of my tasting notes in the Amateur Drammers Archives.
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