Next year, we release the first legal Scotch whisky from the Isle of Raasay, an island rooted in centuries of illicit distilling.
Our Inaugural Isle of Raasay Single Malt is a limited-edition release, with fewer than 3,000 bottles currently available to pre-order.
This release forms the link between Raasay While We Wait single malt and our core Isle of Raasay Single Malt expressions. Like Raasay While We Wait, our inaugural single malt Scotch whisky is bourbon-matured and finished in high quality red wine casks.
Last month, myself, Operations Director Norman Gillies and Head Distiller Iain Robertson carefully assessed every cask filled with our inaugural release spirit.
We have been keeping a close eye on our developing spirits since the start, ensuring island quality is at the heart of everything we do. I am very pleased to report that our premium quality water, barley, yeast and oak are producing a premium quality single malt Scotch whisky. If you’d like to hear whisky writer Dave Broom’s thoughts on our maturing spirit, listen to this clip from his visit to Raasay in spring 2019.
Building Flavour From Grain to Glass
We mash 100% Scottish barley with water from our well, producing a wash that ferments for up to 118 hours (5 days). These long fermentations and the manganese from our well water, which is ideal for yeast development, help us develop sweet, blackberry characteristics in our new-make spirit before it even touches the oak of the cask.
While our inaugural release spirit is made from heavily peated Scottish barley – we take a premium cut from the heart of the run at the stills in order to achieve an elegant, lightly peated single malt.
Distilling Technicalities – Small But Important
Our wash made with peated barley is distilled using our uniquely designed cooling jacket on our lyne arm. This ensures that some of the spirit vapour condenses early and returns to the wash still – an extra loop that allows us to build up some of the heavier characteristics we want in our peated spirit.
Conversely, when we run unpeated wash, the cooling jacket is turned off. This helps create a balanced combination of heavier and lighter flavour compounds in the final spirit.
The Magic of Maturation
Our inaugural release spirit has been transferred from first fill American Oak bourbon barrels to first fill French Oak Bordeaux red wine casks for a final year of maturation.
Every drop is maturing in the heady Isle of Raasay air before it is bottled in time for Christmas next year, when you can enjoy the first ever legal dram from the Isle of Raasay!
But What Will It Taste Like?
The American oak barrels are developing almond, hazelnut, and sweet spice flavours, and the previous bourbon contents also adds caramel, toffee and creamy chocolate notes. The final maturation in French Oak barriques will develop savoury spice flavours, and the residue of Bordeaux red wine will bring dark fruit notes to our spirit.
Our core single malt, released in 2021, follows a similar, carefully crafted process. Maturing in High Rye Bourbon barrels, Bordeaux red wine barriques and Virgin Chinkapin oak barrels – this release comprises a more diverse range of casks, thus increasing the complexity of flavours. More on that in Part 2 of this blog.
If you’d like a piece of Raasay whisky history, pre-orders for our limited edition inaugural release are now available online.