REVIEW: SPEYBURN LIVE with MYSTERY DRAM
Last week, myself and many fellow whisky enthusiasts, had the pleasure of joining in on a live tasting of four Speyburn expressions, hosted by Steph Ridgeway, Manager of Brand Education for IBHL, and Nate Woodruff of Whisky With A View ! This was my first introduction into Speyburn, as none of their expressions ever crossed my path in the past 2 years I've been on this journey. I was excited to have the opportunity to taste these for the first time, where each expression was broken down and discussed. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a tasting, whether in person, or via the internet, I highly recommend doing so! I think that they are a great way to not only learn more about whisky, but to truly understand what you are drinking.
The Speyburn Distillery was opened in 1897 in Rothes, in the heart of Speyside by John Hopkins. It was built on an uncharted tributary of the River Spey, called the Granty Burn, where the distillery sources its pristine water from. It is currently cranking out roughly 2.4 million litres a year, with that number expected to rise, as Speyburn is one of the top 10 single malts in the United States with 59% of volume done here. My favorite fun fact about Speyburn is that John Hopkins was so determined to have the year 1897 stamped on his first cask of whisky produced, that he and his crew worked tirelessly through a blizzard on the last night of the year to be sure it happened. And why, you ask? It was to honor Queen Victoria and the year of her Diamond Jubilee! Now on the the whisky!
Up first was Speyburn 10. This is their flagship whisky, aged in both ex bourbon and ex oloroso sherry cask It comes in at 40% ABV, and has a SRP of $30.
NOSE: faint citrus notes, think lemon and grapefruit with malty waves.
PALATE: so so light on the palate, with more malt and faint lemon cake.
FINISH: very faint and short.
OVERALL: not a favorite as it was just too light for my palate. Possibly a great starter whisky that won't break the bank, or for easy summer hot weather sippin'!
The second whisky we tasted was Arranta! This is a NAS (non age statement) and is matured in 100% first fill bourbon casks! Arranta is a Gaelic word that translates to "Daring or Intrepid" . Only 2,000 bottles are released per year from only 40 casks, which are hand selected by distillery manager Bobby Anderson. It is not a limited release, just a limited production. This particular expression can ONLY be purchased here in the United States. It was Speyburn's way of saying "thank you" to the U.S. for keeping its volume levels so high! Also, a fun fact: when Bobby Anderson is hand selecting the casks for Arranta, he chalks the letter "A" on them, just like the "A" on the front of the bottle! It comes in at 46% ABV, with a SRP of $44.
NOSE: this almost reminds me of nosing a box of Good & Plenty at first, but then evolves into vanilla custard, like Royal Pudding. Small hint of artificial cherry.
PALATE: this may sound strange but it starts off tasting like a doctor's office smells. I know, kind of weird, but bear with me, we all know that smell! It has a little sting on the tip of your tongue, but rolls back into more vanilla royal pudding. Its creamy, but not thick on mouthfeel.
FINISH: short, creamy custard like finish.
OVERALL: definitely a unique nose, and equally unique taste. If you're looking for something a little different, this may be the way to go!
Speyburn 15 was the last of the core range tasting! It is the newest addition to their core range, coming in at 46% ABV, with a SRP of $70. Speyburn has plenty of 15 year stock, so they are able to keep it on shelves! It is matured in ex oloroso and ex bourbon casks and is non chill filtered, with no color additives.
NOSE: so far into the tasting, this was the one with the best nose for me. Its full of raisins and wood, and gives that tingle in your nose you get from a soda. It has some warm spice in there as well.
PALATE: dried rich red fruits, and like licking the inside of a cask. The sherry shines through a wee bit on this too!
FINISH: its rolls over your tongue and you get a slight tongue hug on the sides of your tongue.
OVERALL: a tasty, approachable whisky. It had the most "punch" and elegance of the three core expressions. One I wouldn't mind sipping on again!
And last but not least, the mystery dram!!! Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn! This particular whisky came in at 52.5 % ABV, cask strength and SINGLE CASK! It does not have a name, as it has not been bottled as of yet! So for now, its just called Single Cask #215. It was distilled in 2004, and there are only 5 casks of this whisky sitting in the warehouse all the way back in Scotland. It was matured in 1st fill Oloroso Sherry butts, and is really fantastic! I'm a big fan of single cask whiskies and learned that Speyburn will be launching a program with selected retailers called the Companion Cask Program. Here they will partner with distillers in Kentucky to source their casks. After the last drops of bourbon have departed the cask, they will be sent to the distillery in Rothes where they will then age their spirit in them, inside their lovely dunnage warehouses! I'm happy to hear this news, as I think that single cask offerings are becoming not only increasingly popular, but they give you a chance to taste a whisky in its truest form!
NOSE: sherry, hello my love! You get dark berries, think cherries, raspberries, and blueberries, poured right on top of a big ol' slice of warm ooey gooey chocolate cake.
PALATE: comes in hot and luscious and creamy, but very smooth. Its like a dessert whisky! Those chocolate cake notes remind me of cake and coffee after a meal.
FINISH: smooth semi lingering finish. Still quite tame and still delicious!
OVERALL: Again, my love for cask strength and single cask whiskies is strong, so I am very excited to see more of these come out in the future!
My first glimpse into what Speyburn has to offer was both educational and fun. I am looking forward to what they release down the road, and exploring more of their other expressions. Of the core expressions I sampled, Im not yet compelled to run out and buy any, but they have my interest especially peaked with their Companion Cask program! I'll be watching for those bottles in the future!
Thank you all for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts on Speyburn!
The Small Print:
Many thanks to Amy Mironov for sending this kit to me! Also, to Speyburn for allowing me to try these, and review them honestly. These samples were sent to me free of charge. All reviews, thoughts, and photos are my own.