5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 23 – Singlemalting # 220 – A.D. Rattray North British 30 Year Old

Today we head to the Lowlands for a visit at the North British Distillery in Edinburgh. Single Grain Scotch Whisky is a fascinating category and one that we have always included in every adventure. All of the single casks that we have ever presented in this category have been over 20 years old. Normally I am a big proponent of the fact that older is not necessarily better however when it comes to Single Grain there is no doubting that additional aging really does bring big rewards.

Single Grain Scotch Whisky can be made from any number of grains but has to be distilled by the same distillery. As the workhorse of the blended Scotch world Single Grain is also typically filled into casks at a higher ABV than Single Malt. North British was founded in 1885 and is now jointly owned by Diageo and Edrington under the Lothian Distillers umbrella. No doubt both these Scotch Whisky powers share the benefits of the high amount of Grain Whisky that NB pumps out every year to keep their blends rolling. For Diageo of course Johnnie Walker and they even distill spirit for their Smirnoff Vodka Brand at NB. For Edrington its Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse. Their job was made much easier with the closure of the Caledonia Grain distillery in Edinburgh in 1988 and has cemented NB as an Edinburgh Icon.

The vastly larger portion of the mashbill for North British is corn with smaller amounts of barley. This leads to some comparisons between older Scottish Single Grain and aged Bourbons. The biggest difference of course is speed of maturation. Taking 30 years to tame the sweet brightness of Corn in Scotland can be achieved much more quickly in most bourbon producing climates in the US.

North British Distillery

A.D. Rattray North British 30 Year Old Single Grain Scotch Whisky – Sherry Butt # 24767 – Lowlands – 56.7% ABV

Colour:       Amazingly light for 30 years and speaks to the possibility of the Sherry Butt being a refill cask.

Nose:          Give that nose just a wee bit of time with air contact and it all starts to unfurl. An old wood spice chest of cardamon, ceylon cinnamon sticks, orange taffy and mahogany.

Palate:        D Dutchman Dairy in Sicamous British Columbia make amazing hand crafted ice cream including a fabulous Rum and Raisin that I absolutely have to stop for everytime I’m passing through. This takes me back there last Summer when Cindy and I visited the Dubh Glas Distillery in the Okanagan. Sicamous is right on the way so Cindy, Sashes (our Maltese Yorkie) and I all enjoyed some delicious ice cream on the way. There is also a developing herb garden note that I can’t quite pinpoint. Parsley and sweet Spring onion.

Sashes in the Snow

Finish:       The chewy orange taffy keeps kicking with a dusting of burnt demerara and some spikes of very subtle Chicago Steak Spice. A really interesting Single Grain that has taken 3 decades to build this delicate complexity into something that is well worth spending time with.

In the 4th edition on day 23 we had the Single Cask Nation Tormore 21 Year Old.

Make sure you head over to the Scotch Test Dummies and Whisky Vault as we get close to wrapping up this 5th Edition.

Tomorrow we have a whisky from Secret Spirits that caused probably the most headaches for this edition. The story will unfold tomorrow.





  1. Lawrence Donald says:

    thank goodness for this blog – my bottle had no label so without it i’d have had no idea i was drinking. all part of the experience, but not a favorite at any age.

    • Jonathan says:

      G’day Lawrence so sorry that you got a bottle without a label those naughty Scottish Elves must have been drinking on the job again. Single Grain is not for everyone but is especially good when it gets some age on it.

      Another part of the adventure.

  2. Adam van Dijk says:

    I can’t get over how sweet this is! I’ve not had many single grain whiskies to compare (the invergordon applewood bake most recently) but the ones i have had have all been quite sweet. I dont mind the dram, but this would be a dessert drink for me, nice springtime treat 😁

  3. Stuie says:

    Although I live in Toronto, I work for a company that has it’s head office in Houston, TX. Accordingly, I have consumed more than my fair share of bourbon. I detect wood and cherry essence….to me this is very bourbon-like. And yet, I really like it.

    I do get the honey and rum that others reference but clearly I have rogue taste buds.

    Still, what a wonderful 23 days it has been so far…..and the best, I’m sure, is yet to come.

    Thank you, Jonathan for setting this up!!

  4. Cheryl & John says:

    Wow, we both love this one. I can see why you said Rum & Raisin. Nice and very enjoyable from nose to afters. Now, how to get more?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *