Among the countless distilleries that have been springing up in recent years in Scotland, one has even sprung up on the island of Raasay, a long semi-deserted cliff next to Skye, just opposite Portree. The Isle of Raasay distillery is the first one ever opened on the island, and together with Borders distillery is part of the R&B distillers group founded by Alasdair Day and Bill Dobbie. The stills started distilling in September 2017 and the first official single malt will arrive in November 2020. The very long fermentation of 115 hours, the mix of peat and non-peat malt and the plan to use only barley grown on the island are the basis of the house recipe. Like other new brands, to finance itself Raasay decided to put on the market in 2018 a “number zero”, which they called “While we wait”. This is what it says on the website: “While we wait for the inaugural Isle of Raasay single malt, we have created a single malt that demonstrates our skills and offers an example of what will come out of our distillery. This limited edition combines two expressions from a distillery – one peated, one not – aged in French oak barrels that contained Tuscan red wine”. What do you think? A “non-whisky-yet”, where the spirit of Raasay ages less than 3 years, right?
Wrong. Because this is not spirit coming out of Raasay’s stills. Simply, it is 5 years old whisky from a very close and renowned island distillery, although there are rumors that the distillery of origin is not actually on an island and hosts many varieties of stills inside, but who knows? Raasay’s guys put it in the barrels and used their “craftmanship”. It’s not up to us to give a moral judgment on the operation, but know that many people have been a bit annoyed by the opacity of communication. We just want to see what this little peated is like in Supertuscan barrels.
N: immediately hits a note of peach, even syrupy. At the same time it seems very ‘fluffy’, with notes of ironing, laundry. It is not exactly marine and island in the strict sense of the word, but it still has something iodine, and shows a marked minerality. There are even hints of wax. The presence of the ex-wine barrels brings out only very light notes of red fruits.
P: here the peat can be heard a little more, with a very distant and delicate smoke. Fresh and thirst-quenching, definitely more citrusy than the nose (with notes of mandarin and lemon), with a light bitter tip coming from the ex-wine barrel. Dusty notes of strawberry lion tablet, and excuse the synesthesia. A slight patina of crumbled antibiotic, says Giacomo, remembering when he used to visit those friends of his who were passionate about Roipnol. Caramel.
F: not very long, still a little dusty, with a nice persistence. Wax, rather mineral, and still red fruits.
84/100. Very interesting, lots of character and brushstrokes of uniqueness in a young whisky, but with personality. We confess that at first we thought it was a home-made Raasay, we didn’t pay enough attention to the communication. The spirit, with its mineral profile, seemed to us surprisingly similar to some lovely Clynelish. Now that we have discovered the true origin of the spirit (or at least we imagine it), we are a little less surprised. A praise also for the choice to use sparingly the bulky red wine barrels.
Sottofondo musicale consigliato: Millionaire – I’m not who you think you are.