Scapegrace Vanguard

Along the shores of Lake Dunstan New Zealand lies the Scapegrace Distillery. A distillery that’s won many an award for their outstanding gins… but did you know they also make whisky? Their inaugural (and limited) releases were sold out in an instant, but now they’re back with two editions that will be part of their core range! The Scapegrace Anthem and the Scapegrace Vanguard. Of which I will review the latter today.

For both editions Anthony Lawry went for a maturation in virgin French oak. What separates these two drams though is the grain, or rather the use (or respectively omission) of smoke. Manuka smoke to be precise. This review focusses on the non smokey expression though, the Scapegrace Vanguard, hence I will save the details about Manuka smoking for the next review.

Tasting Notes – Scapegrace Vanguard

ABV: 46% (92 proof)
Age: NAS
Distillery: Scapegrace
Chill-filtered: No
Natural Colour: Yes

A pleasant stroll through a flowery meadow bee farm. This nose is just filled to the brim with honey, straight from the comb. Paired with notes of damask roses, chocolate daisies, pink carnations and paperwhites. But there’s plenty of fruit here too, with notes of stewed pears, candied cherries and home-made apple compote with a touch of cinnamon.

Poached pears and an ever so slight honey note carries through from the nose, but the palate shows a completely other side as well. Notes of green moss, wet grass, ground peppercorns and slightly tannic liquorice root take center stage here. It brings an image to mind of a lively pond on a sunny springtime day.

A medium long finish is paired with notes of green apples, chai tea, pear popsicles, and a pinch of red pepper. The mouthfeel is slightly oily and turns almost buttery after a little while. The tannic influences I found on the palate don’t carry through to the finish.

A lovely fresh dram, with a little bit of heat in the finish. I love it when a dram evolves from nose to finish, and this Scapegrace Vanguard sure does. I find this very reminiscent of springtime, with lots of floral notes and plenty of honey. The red pepper note was a very pleasant surprise near the end. All-in-all I’ll happily pour myself another glass when given the chance!

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