There's a new kid on the whisky block.
A new independent bottler, Woodrow's of Edinburgh has arrived and, if the first release is anything to go by, the future is looking good.
Founded by Woody Tan, an alumnus of Heriot Watt University having completed the Brewing and Distilling masters degree, Woodrow's of Edinburgh is not only an indie bottler but also a cask trader and blender.
Having been lucky enough to visit Woodrow's bonded warehouse in Leith on two occasions - firstly, for its launch and secondly, with the Edinburgh Whisky Group - I was able to try both the inaugural and the (soon to be) second releases; not once but twice. Don't let anyone tell you that quality assurance isn't important to me.
The first release consisted of three bottlings: Glen Spey 13 years, Dufftown 14 years and Caol Ila 14 years.
Most folk will recognise Dufftown from the Singleton range. However, this is very different to any of those expressions. With a finish in an American white oak Oloroso cask, I have to admit I wasn't too keen on this when I first tried it. On that occasion, it was a ridiculously hot day on the Costa del Leith and, on the nose, this whisky came across as too rubbery. Fast forward to last week, on an evening which was still warm but significantly less scorchio, and that burnt rubber note didn't seem anywhere near as prominent.
This wasn't my favourite of the three although by the looks on some of the EWG members' faces, this Dufftown was definitely a winner. The Caol Ila was spot on. Has anyone ever had a bad Caol Ila?
But it was the Glen Spey that I enjoyed the most. Rarely bottled by the distillery's owner, Diageo, most Glen Spey which appears on the shelves as a single malt comes courtesy of independent bottlers. Ever since discovering Gilbey's Spey Royal, a blend with Glen Spey at its heart, this is a whisky which intrigues me. Matured in a single refill hogshead, this is a great example of how not to mess around with a whisky. No fancy finishing here because, essentially, it doesn't need it.
Glen Spey - 13 years - 59.2%
Refill Hogshead - 236 bottles
Nose: fresh crisp green apples; Apple Sourz; slight hint of pencil sharpenings together with new leather; notes of porridge with honey.
Palate: fresh red apples followed by notes of vanilla cheesecake; unripe bananas come to the fore after a while and there's a subtle hint of blackcurrant and cherry chocolate heading in to the finish.
Overall: a well balanced whisky where the cask has allowed the distillate to shine through.
The next three releases from Woodrow's will feature whisky from Mortlach, Laphroaig and Mannochmore distilleries which we were also able to try. This was a divisive lineup but the Williamson (Laphroaig) was probably the favourite of the three amongst the whisky group.
Woody did treat us to a seventh dram: Braes of Glenlivet straight from the cask. This was an absolute stunner as far as I'm concerned and I can't wait for this one to be released.
Thanks to Woody and Megan for hosting us at the bonded warehouse and for suggesting that the proceeds from the EWG evening be donated to a local charity. £200 was raised for Edinburgh NE and Leith Foodbank at this crucial time.
You can find a list of stockists over on the Woodrow's of Edinburgh site: STOCKISTS
Jeffrey Street also has a Bunnahabhain Staoisha 7 year old bottled by Woodrow's exclusively for them: WOODROW'S AT JEFFREY STREET WHISKY
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