It’s been a while since I visited Raasay Distillery in 2018, and last year saw the release of their inaugural Raasay Hebridean Single Malt Batch R-01. Now, finally, here’s my review. Better late than never, no?
Only reachable via a ferry from the Isle of Skye, I’ll be honest and say that my visit to Raasay Distillery was a bit underwhelming. Probably my fault for tagging along with a regular tour instead of trying to reach out to the distillery directly.
I mostly remember that day for its fantastic weather and the excellent lunch I enjoyed at Raasay House. And the disappointment of not being able to try even a drop of Raasay’s new make, but only Raasay While We Wait, a peated single malt finished in Tuscan red wine casks that was supposed to be reflective of the spirit Raasay one day hoped to produce.
It was nevertheless not a wasted opportunity, as there’s always something new to pick up during even the most basic of distillery tours. Also, there are stunning views of the Isle of Skye from both the distillery and during the ferry trip over.
But my interest in Raasay Distillery did wane somewhat after that visit. That’s likely why it took me a while to review their inaugural release. Raasay Hebridean Single Malt Batch R-01 is made from both unpeated and peated spirit (with the barley peated at roughly 48 to 52 ppm). When it was all said and done the residual levels in the bottle only measured in at 6 ppm, which should be right op my alley.
However, what’s probably been most influential on the flavour of the Raasay Hebridean Single Malt Batch R-01, is the cask types that were used: first-fill ex-rye whiskey, virgin Chinquapin oak, and first-fill Bordeaux red wine. That’s different to say the least.
Raasay Hebridean Single Malt Batch R-01 (46.4%, OB, 2021)
Nose: Notes of sour beer, fermented wash and dried grass, as well as a touch of copper. There’s a whiff of grapefruit, but also earthy smoke, geraniums, subtle touches of citrus, and overripe green apple. Taste: First thing that I notice is the thin mouthfeel. That’s a shame. Subtle peat, a fair amount of smoked barley husks and peanut skins, and a touch of rubber too. Some ashy mezcal, a pinch of pepper and lemon zest to finish things off. Finish: A tad short. Some vanilla, apple peel and spices.
Not the most impressive debut I've seen in recent years. Their Isle of Skye neighbours Torabhaig come to mind, who managed to create a much richer, more developed single malt of roughly the same age. Especially the thin mouthfeel of the Raasay Hebridean Single Malt Batch R-01 leaves room for improvement. I wonder how their spirit will develop in the future.