Saturday 23 March 2019

Arbikie Highland Rye Single Grain Scotch Whisky (Tasted #448)

There's been a huge increase in the number of "craft", "startup" or just plain "new" Scottish distilleries over the past few years, which is awesome (and I wish them all immense success), but it's always nice to see someone doing something a little different. what Arbikie Highland Estate have done, distilling the first rye whisky in Scotland in over 100 years. Single grain Scottish whisky is by no means a new thing, but when that grain is rye? That's unique.

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Not only that, but they've done so using "Arantes" rye grown on their own estate (52%, along with 33% wheat and 15% malted barley also self-grown), for a truly "field to bottle" whisky. Distilled in copper pot stills, the spirit has been matured in charred 1st Fill American Oak barrels, finished in ex-PX barrels, and is bottled with no colouring or chill filtration. Those casks must have been fairly active, because the whisky gives off a lovely colour for only ~3 years old.

...but how does it taste? Well Arbikie, along with good friends Leigh and Dea from 15PL (who run the Whisky Ambassador course in HK and other parts of Asia) were kind enough to send a generous sample all the way to HK, so I could find out.

Arbikie Highland Rye Single Grain Scotch Whisky (46% ABV, 3yo (distilled 2015), Highlands, Scotland, Casks #9, #11 and #16, 998 bottles, £250)
Colour: Rusty golden-copper.

Nose: Spicy orange, paprika, flamed orange peel and cloves. It's young, there's no getting away from it, but some nice notes have developed in a few short years.

Palate: Wow...the youth is nowhere near as evident here. Big, jammy, orange marmalade and less spicy than the nose suggests (it's there - paprika and white pepper, but less noticeable). Sweet, with thick treacle, honey, maple syrup. I'm not exaggerating when I say this is an incredibly delicious and moreish dram.

Finish: Medium to long in length, initially sweet, then the spice returns, and finally a slight hint of oak tannins from the first fill American oak casks.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale):  90/100. For a 3yo Scottish whisky, this is incredibly impressive. Flavourful, delicious, complex...congratulations to Arbikie Highland Estate for crafting a fantastic and unique Scottish whisky. If I wasn't saving the rest of this bottle to share with a few friends, it'd be empty by now.

Arbikie also have single malt on the way (in "a few years") and given the quality of this release, I can't wait to try it!


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