As if Bimber hadn’t seduced whisky geeks enough already, they just went ahead and released their first peated whisky, aptly named Bimber The 1st Peated. What’s more, this peated spirit was entirely floor malted and kilned on site. That’s just impressive, especially considering the distillery’s location on an industrial estate in London.
The 1st Peated began as humble Concerto barley grown on Bimber’s single farm (Fordham & Allen in Basingstoke). Apparently that’s where all of the distillery’s barley is grown, a fact that was new to me, but likely known to some of you reading this.
After harvest it was transported to London and steeped 3 times over 40 hours, before being turned every 8 hours over the following 5 days. The barley was then dried using a combination of dry and wet Aberdeenshire peat by the Bimber team in a custom-made kiln.
What I’m very happy with is that the powers that be decided to display an in-bottle PPM. I’ve written about the issues with PPM years ago, and I can’t say I’m surprised that Bimber feels the same. Here’s what their spokesperson Matt McKay had to say:
“For too long the debate about peat levels has been a race to the top. Producers have sought to display the biggest PPM numbers possible without ever trying to contextualise to customers what these numbers mean in terms of the actual peated character of a whisky once it is inside of a bottle.
“Barley PPMs ignore the fact that at every stage of the whisky-making process there is a decrease in the volume of phenols present. They also ignore the large variations that distinct production methods across different distilleries have on this inevitable decline.
“A 50 PPM barley utilised at one distillery will not directly equate to 50 PPM barley used by another. By presenting The 1st Peated with an in-bottle PPM we’re looking to kickstart a dialogue about PPMs which hopefully leads to a more considered reflection of what’s actually inside a bottle of whisky.”
Bimber The 1st Peated is a marriage of four heavily peated ex-bourbon barrels (#463. #464, #470 and #471). All bottles were sold via a weighted ballot already. So, without further ado…
Bimber The 1st Peated (54.6%, OB, 2022)
Nose: A hint of latte with grilled pineapple. Sounds weird, I know, but is actually delicious. (Though probably don’t dip your grilled pineapple in latte.) Touches of brine, dried seaweed, green olives and chalk with a whisper of liquorice. Then whiffs of watermelon, vanilla extract, plaster and lemon oil. Taste: The signature oily mouthfeel is very much present. A creamy, vanilla-esque smoke with hints of grilled lemon, mint, and tobacco. Touches of dark caramel, ripe apple and cocoa powder. Some embers too. Finish: Lingering notes of citrus, dry ashes and herbal smoke. Long.
I can't reiterate how important mouthfeel is (and often seems to be overlooked). It is what lifts almost every Bimber release I've tried to a higher level, and that's the case here too. There's also much more to the Bimber 1st Peated than just peat, just like it should be (and yet isn't true for many young peaters).