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