ncnean huntress orchard cobbler quiet rebels gordon

Nc’nean Huntress Orchard Cobbler / Quiet Rebels Gordon

There’s so much I like about Nc’nean. The distillery’s sustainable philosophy. Their out-of-the-box packaging and marketing. The fact that Nc’nean champions women in whisky. Or simply just the stunning location of the distillery. The whisky however, I’ve not been entirely convinced by yet.

Just recently I attended a Nc’nean tasting in the Netherlands, organised by its new importer, Craft Spirits Company, and hosted by Nc’nean ambassadors Amber Morrison and Suzanne Rivière. The evening confirmed everything I love about Nc’nean. Their use of 100% organic Scottish barley. The beautiful bottle made from recycled glass. How nearly all of the distillery’s waste is recycled.

But you can’t taste the distillery’s wonderful ambitions and green accomplishments. In the end, the proof is in the pudding. We’ve got two recent releases on today’s tasting table. First, the Nc’nean Huntress Orchard Cobbler, which has only just arrived on the European mainland. Second, the Nc’nean Quiet Rebels Gordon from late last year.

ncnean huntress orchard cobbler review

Nc’nean Huntress Orchard Cobbler (48.5%, OB, 2024)

The third release in the distillery’s Huntress series. Unlike like most distilleries, Nc’nean produces two different new makes, one set to be released at a younger age, while the other will age for 10+ years.

The new make for the Nc’nean Huntress Orchard Cobbler was produced in the week after the recipe was switched over from one type to another. According to the distillery, this is when unusually high fruity compounds flood into the spirit. That’s why the whisky is named after one of the team’s favourite desserts.

The Nc’nean Huntress Orchard Cobbler matured in 66% STR ex-red wine casks, 31% ex-bourbon casks and 3% ex-sherry casks. Only 6,153 bottles were produced. The youngest casks were filled in August 2019.

Nose: Somewhat tingly, but there’s a whiff of spice, some green walnuts, and then delicate orchard fruits. Think peaches, quinces, ripe apples and even some apricot. A touch of crushed mint leaves too, alongside clear vanilla notes.
Taste: Mouthfeel is on point. Creamy for sure. A somewhat spicy arrival. Cloves mainly. Charred oak and allspice. Slightly tannic too. Also buttery pastry, gentle fruits like apricots, and grape must.
Finish: Medium length. Quite dry. Slightly bitter even, which pushes the fruits into the background.

Very cask-driven. The slightly tannic, dry, spicy notes detract from what I believe to be a quality new make. I mean, I think so. I’ve never tasted it pre-maturation. Either way, I’m not sure the STR casks are doing this spirit any favours.

ncnean quiet rebels gordon review

Nc’nean Quiet Rebels Gordon (48.5%, OB, 2023)

Quiet Rebels is always released in Autumn and celebrates the distillery team members. The Nc’nean Quiet Rebels Gordon was picked by distillery manager Gordon Wood.

This whisky matured in a combination of 74% STR ex-red wine casks, 19 ex-sherry casks en 7% ex-Rivesaltes casks. The casks were filled between September 2018 and July 2019. Only 8,688 bottles were filled.

Nose: Pretty well-rounded, slightly darker than the Huntress Orchard Cobbler. There are still orchard fruits such as apples, but also some pear skin and green peppercorns. Then a touch of blackcurrants, orange zest and plums.
Taste: Certainly not as fruity as the nose suggests. A sliver of coffee, alongside nutmeg and cinnamon, as well as ginger. Then a whisper of walnuts, slightly dry too, as well as charred oak. There’s a gentle vinous quality alongside some candied fruits.
Finish: Medium length with soft tannins and spices. Subtle minerals. Dried plums and cassis. Slightly herbacious now too.

The ex-sherry and ex-Rivesaltes have had a clear influence here. Oak-forward, shall we say. But there's just a little more depth, better balance and overall richness. Slightly tannic and spicy at times.

Samples provided by Craft Spirits Company

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