Long time no see ! I’ve been a bit busy with my mariage preparation and all that…
Anyway, today I’ll be reviewing one of the first bottling from R&B distillers, where R is standing for Raasay (a small island off the east coast of Skye, just in front of Portree), and B is standing for Borders, a region just south of Edinburgh.
R&B distillers has been building one distillery in both of these places, but actually neither one is yet active (but hopefully will be soon). What’s in that bottle then, you may ask me rightfully ?
Well it’s actually a blend of two single malt from an undisclosed distillery (let me guess, the closest one, Talisker ? :-P), a peated one and an unpeated one. R&B distillers blended them for us and then finished the result in French oak Tuscan wine casks “from three vineyards that produce Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc” (source: their website).
Their aim is, as they stated it, to demonstrate their whisky making skills to us.
I had the chance to stumble upon it in the Scotch Whisky Experience shop during my visit in Edinburgh last February where Alasdair Day himself, R&B Distillers co-founder, was presenting this bottle along with another one (Borders, a single grain). If my memory serves right, he told me it’s actually quite young (around 5 years), but don’t trust my memory too much.
I was immediately appealed by it and luckily, since it was my birthday, my awesome friends got me one bottle
Well let’s get to that, this lovely color is attracting me way too much
Name: While we wait
Bottler: R&B Distillers
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: Young (~5 years ?)
Cask: French oak Tuscan wine casks
Bottle size: 70cl
Colour: Rosée wine / pinkish
Nose: Round and moderately powerful. It has really been marked by the red wine casks from the beginning conferring it gourmand notes of strawberry tartlet, cherry clafoutis with some nice crème pâtissière, red berries and white chocolate backbone. Fruits continues with some nice plums, passion fruit and some light grapes. It surprisingly manages from being too heavy with some freshness given by lemon and lemongrass. This is a contrasted nose as we know enter a heavier, almost wild animal-like, territory with tanned leather, dry beef, cacao and coffee. Amazing complexity and balance, and it manages to differentiate itself from the crowd very well. There's everything in it, though the peat is quite shy at this stage and show itself only as a light heather like smell in the background (which get stronger in the second nose). Wonderful.
Palate: Powerful, as expected, and drier. Start on the same red berries as the nose, minus the pâtisserie side and with a (quite a bit) bigger floral peat side that comes unexpected on the middle palate and deliver a flow of licorice, wood smoke, black pepper, moss, cloves and heather. Fortunately, this peat does not overwhelm the berries that stay more than present and supplement very well this peat. You can feel the youth, but in a pleasant way. Red berries red berries red berries. Did I told you I can taste red berries in there ? This is delicious. More fruits coming in, but I'm stopping here.
Finish: Very long and vigorous on strawberry, blackberry, black pepper and an omnipresent floral smoke.
Overall: Ok, I'm gonna say it. Best discovery this year so far (I know... it's only been ~2 months). Awesome nose with big complexity, balance and elegance. The palate is punchier, but that's how I like it, and it doesn't feel that much on the complexity. The red wine finish is uncommon (even more so in Tuscan red wine casks), and so provides a different whisky, but it works so well (honestly) ! Never had that much red fruits in a whisky until now, that's moreover so well counterbalanced / supplemented by a nice floral peat. Dont know if I'm being influence here by the fact that it's a birthday present that's been preceded by a nice tasting in Edinburgh, but I don't think so. Like complex, punchy, unusual whiskies ? Grab this, period. They wanted to demonstrate their whisky making skills, well they've done it in my eyes. Looking forward to what they can do in the future.