Back in 2013 co-founders Bill Dobbie and Alasdair Day formed R&B Distillers with the common goal of producing artisanal whiskies, with a focus on local production and provenance. They wanted to do things differently and identified the isle of Raasay as the perfect place for their new distillery. In 2016 their application to build such a distillery was granted and it was last year (2022) when I first got to try their whisky. The Isle of Raasay R-01.1, a Hebridean Single Malt.
The whisky comes in a gorgeously textured bottle, complete with impressions of ancient fossils. A bottle that is a clear nod to both the geology of the island, as well as the distilleries focus on the past. Isle of Raasay whiskies aim to give you a Hebridean style of lightly peated whiskies from days gone by. I’m a huge fan of old school style whiskies and when I tried this offering at the Whisky festival in The Hague I liked it enough to make sure it went in my Explorers Pack for this Summer!
Tasting Notes: Isle of Raasay R-01.1
ABV: 46,4% (92,8 proof)
Distillery: Isle of Raasay Distillery
Owned by: R&B Distillers
Category: Hebridean Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Natural Colour: Yes
Hints of peat mingle beautifully with fruity scents. The peat is vegetal and reminds me of sinking my feet deep into actual peat while trying to get my football from the ditch alongside the football field close to my parental home (who at the city council ever thought of that one…). Where I grew up peat is omnipresent and there’s a whole series of lakes that only exist because of all the peat that was cut away there. This vegetal peat is the smell of home for me. The fruit I’m finding in there is much less reminiscent of home though, as I’m finding tropical influences such as pineapple, mango, and passionfruit. It makes for a very nice combination on the nose though.
The mouthfeel of this dram has a buttery quality to it that I greatly appreciate. And the flavours it brings are both bright and bold. The butter is not just there in the texture but in the flavour as well. But I’m also picking up on apples, raisins and cinnamon. Which brings the mouth-watering memory of my grandma’s apple pie to mind. The peat becomes even more vegetal on the palate, and it almost starts becoming dirt. I mean that in a good way though, it’s like you’ve just had your hands in the garden all day (and then ate an apple with unwashed hands).
The finish is medium long and what lingers is honey and spices. Nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cinnamon are all easily discerned, and the honey provides a wonderfully sweet and warm layer to soothe them all out. It’s not an overly complex finish and it does get a little too sweet after some time for me personally, but all-in-all it’s not a finish I mind terribly either. Still, the better parts of this dram are definitely the nose and palate.
I’m thoroughly impressed with what this whisky can bring to the table at its young age. There’s a mix of light peat and sweetness that combines beautifully. I think it’s safe to say though that most people will find this to be a very pleasant dram. And it you’d care to know what creates these flavours then you’re in luck, as the Isle of Raasay team is very open about that. They use a six-cask recipe of both peated and unpeated spirit that goes into three different types of casks: Rye, Chinkapin Oak and Bordeaux Red Wine.