Here’s a Whisky to Watch

Usually whisky connoisseurs are a bit sniffy about grain whiskies so when I invited a couple of the lads to a blind tasting they were a bit taken aback when I confessed that they were being offered a North British Distillery single grain whisky. They perked up at the news that it was aged 21 years in a bourbon cask and had an ABV of 56.8%

This is the first offering from Independent Bottler Robbie Douglas, who admits to having learnt most of what he knows from his girlfriend’s father. As a barman, Robbie has met a few whiskies, not all of them particularly good value,  and decided that he could offer something better. He seems to have got off to a good start. What he has here is the perfect introductory whisky, lighter, sweeter and generally easier than a malt, but still with a satisfying kick. You could say that it’s the whisky to offer a woman who thinks she doesn’t like whisky but knows she ought to appreciate her Scottish heritage. This could change her mind.

The appearance is light, a pale straw colour, not very promising, but it has no additives, so we forgave it.

The bouquet gives you clover, buttercups and vanilla – the poetic chef claimed he was transported to a field of corn in Springtime.

Straight away this whisky attacks the tongue and palette – you think it might be a bit rough – but then it settles down with a honeyed, clovery, syrupy feel that becomes lighter and leaves a very soothing aftertaste, sweet and oily.

It’s a bit like a Canadian rye but nicer. You could just about take it without water but it still dilutes well. The chef thought a teaspoonful would go well in the pan with sautéed strawberries, brown sugar and double cream or even in an apple pie instead of cinnamon.

Robbie DouglasDistilled in 1991 and bottled last year, the cask produced 240 bottles and retails at £60 from The Good Spirits Company. It’s not bad at all for the price and probably also collectable in a financial investment sort of way, being the first from this bottler. Robbie’s next bottling will be from Bunnahabhain, just across the water from Jura where he worked as a barman for a while. This is one of the less peaty Islay malts so again Robbie will be going easy on the palate – watch out for the laughing pig label.


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Suse Coon

Suse Coon started life training to be an architect but ended up as a fashion buyer then civil servant. After some time out to bring up her family of three, she returned to what had been a hobby and entered the field of freelance journalism. After becoming regional correspondent, then editor of the orienteering magazine CompassSport, she formed Pages Editorial & Publishing Services. In this guise, West Lothian Life was launched, while Suse maintained a level of freelancing and wrote the award winning children's novel Richard's Castle. In 1999, Suse bought over CompassSport and found her time taken up pretty well exclusively with the two magazines. In 2004, West Lothian Life was expanded to form Lothian Life, however, the workload was too great. In 2006, CompassSport was sold and Suse concentrated on the web version of Lothian Life. Her hobbies include gardening, orienteering, sea kayaking and Tai Chi.

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