R&B Distillers Whisky Launch – Slàinte!

Yesterday’s Burns Night reminded me that I haven’t told you about a whisky launch we attended recently. Apologies, but I was out of action for a while. I realise that it is too late to get the whiskies to toast Mr. Burns’s birthday, but luckily you can drink a good whisky anytime, all year round.

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We were invited to come along to The Reverend JW Simpson, a basement cocktail bar in Fitzrovia and apparently home of the good reverend himself until the late 1980’s. At least this is what we are being told. But is easy enough to imagine the clergyman pottering about in these rooms which maintain many of the original features, like the fading wallpaper which still shows were pictures use to hang.

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Co-founder Alasdair Day was on hand to tell us and other whisky lovers, bloggers and journalists; about the history of the distillery and to introduce us to the two premium whiskies of R&B. R&B stands for Raasay & Borders and brings these two unique landscapes together in an equally unique whisky company. But Alasdair’s involvement with these two parts of Scotland and whisky making goes beyond that. His great grandfather, Allan MacDonald, hailed from the Hebrides while his other great grandfather, Richard Day was a master-blender in the Borders in the early 19th Century. You could say, whisky is in his blood. Hence the plan for twin distilleries, one is the first legal distillery on the Island of Raasay in the Inner Hebrides, opening in 2016. The other one will be in Peebles, the first whisky distillery in the Scottish Borders region for 150 years.

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While the distillery in Raasay is being built, R&B Distillers have released the aptly named While We Wait whisky, a single malt, slightly peated and finished in Tuscan red wine casks with a light fruity aroma and a heather hue.

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Borders is a single grain Scotch whisky made from 50% malted barley and 50% wheat. This one is finished in Oloroso sherry casks and lighter and softer in flavour.

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We were treated to tasting a dram of both whiskies neat (see tasting notes below) and in two cocktails, While We Wait in an Old Fashioned and Borders in a Whisky Smash.

Both whiskies are excellent on their own but also make a great mixer.

R&B Distillers have also unveiled a membership to their Na Tùsairean club (Scots Gaelic for ‘The Pioneers’) – an exclusive offering for whisky aficionados. The inaugural 100 casks of Raasay whisky will be bottled exclusively for Na Tùsairean members who will receive one bottle each year for ten years, gradually acquiring up a rare collection of R&B Whisky. Members will also receive miniatures so they can experience a dram of the whisky without breaking into their collector’s bottle, and exclusive rights to stay at the distillery’s luxury accommodation.

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While We Wait, priced at £56.85 and Borders priced at £49.98 are available to buy directly from the R&B Distillers website http://www.rbdistillers.com

TASTING NOTES (supplied by the distillery):

‘While We Wait’

Aroma: Surprisingly very little smoke on the nose but instead light fruity notes come through.

Colour: Natural colour, heather tinted imparted from Tuscan red wine oak casks.

Taste: Instantly there is peat smoke and spice (a distant campfire, black pepper, liquorice, oak and then the sea breeze) slowly this is balanced with the dry fruit from the Tuscan red wine casks (black currant, blackberry, raspberry and cherries).

Finish: A long lingering finish.

Food Pairings: Pairs well with Sconser Scallops, Smoked Salmon, game, grouse, woodcock, venison, creamy blue cheese, bacon, haggis.

ABV: 46% Non-Chill Filtered

Year released: November 2015 – 1st Release Limited Edition

 

‘Borders’

Aroma: Prominent sherry notes on the nose, hints of sugar-coated nuts.

Colour: Natural colour, lightly golden taken from sherry finishing casks.

Taste: Surprisingly dry on the palate with the sherry influences dominating. Walnuts balanced with vanilla, herbaceous and floral notes coming through towards the end, and just a touch of warm spice.

Finish: Lingering, dry and complex.

Food Pairings: Pairs well with Cocoa Black dark praline chocolates.

ABV: 51.7% Non-Chill Filtered

Year released: November 2015 – 1st Release Limited Edition

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