Isle of Raasay started distilling in 2017 on the eponymous island with 161 inhabitants in the Inner Hebrides, separated from the Isle of Skye by a short ferry journey. They revitalised the nineteenth century Borodale House and turned it into a modern distillery.
At the heart of their whisky production is what they call the ‘six cask story’, a selection of 3×2 signature styles. They make a peated and unpeated spirit and each of them is matured separately in three types of casks: first fill ex-Rye whiskey casks, virgin Chinkapin oak and first fill Bordeaux red wine casks. For each bottling, different proportions of these styles are married together, which gives them flexibility and complexity early on.
After a series of samples series and an inaugural release in 2020, the first wider-scale Isle of Raasay single malt release was presented in 2021.
Isle of Raasay single malt 3 yo (46,4%, OB 2021, Batch R-01, 26000 btl.)
Nose: sourdough, dusty hay, metallic notes and hints of beer. There’s quite some oaky fragrance underneath. Also notes of lovage and green tomato, green apple, lemons, a butyric touch and a rather subtle, mineral kind of smokiness. Interestingly different, but slightly sharp and high-pitched.
Mouth: goes in different directions. There’s some bright citrus (grapefruit), as well as some rubbery peat (more than the nose suggested) and mineral notes. White pepper, grassy and gingery notes, pickled cucumber and a plain alcoholic edge. Hints of tequila. Young and slightly rough.
Finish: short, with a hint of pear and vanilla, as well as spicy wood.
Three year old whiskies hardly ever impress me. This one ends somewhere in the middle: there’s potential for the future due to some uncommon flavours, but in terms of drinkability and balance it stays well behind its “neighbour” Torabhaig for instance. Still available in several shops, especially in mainland Europe.