As of December 2013 there is a new boy in town for English whisky in the form of Adnams. Now this is a company/brewery that I’m not familiar with until it announced plans to enter the whisky market. Being resident in Scotland, the central Adnams brewery is located in South East England which might as well be Japan to many Scots.
This successful company have their own shops located around this cluster of England selling their wares and as of 7th December this includes their first 2 releases of whisky. Both are limited although numbers have been unreleased, by all accounts (unofficial) we’re only talking about a 3000-4000 at most. These are only available in Adnams stores or online via their own website if you’re interested in making that purchase. At £43.99 you could argue that it is overpriced for what is a 3 year old whisky but try comparing that to Kilchoman or other debut releases from distilleries; overly eager to tap into that initial interest. I find the asking price is extremely refreshing.
I love the design of both bottles; it is simple yet affective. For me at least, it brings back memories of steampunk and playing those classic Sega and Square videogames. If a character was to venture into a bar (or whatever it was called in another world) then this wouldn’t look out of place on the shelf. Both snare your interest even before you’ve reached for a glass.
Adnams seems to be heralding the arrival of both across its retail channels and have made a big deal this weekend of launch. I dropped by their central London outlet to see if any were available and the assistant was happy to offer a tasting of both releases. Neither were in short supply on the shelves and it will be interesting to read how each is received nationally.
Adnams have not said what is their next project although apparently we may have to wait until 2015 for another release. Other casks are being kept aside and it seems this is a long term commitment rather than a one-off release with storage already at capacity. Talk of a rye whisky is another option as well. Of particular note is that a variety of locally grown malted grains in combination with their own 70 year old yeast strain have been used in these releases. What about the contents? Well, first the details:
Cask: French oak casks
Additional: Non-chill filtered
Numbers: Just 10 barrels for each release have been used
So what did I think? I was given a generous dram of both to taste before making my purchase, or not, if the contents were awful! Thankfully that wasn’t the case. For both bottles I was surprised by the complexity and approachability both offered at such a young age. I suppose it goes back to what a master blender was telling me regarding NAS whiskies – namely it comes down to the quality of the casks. Whatever, I actually had a difficult decision to make for now. I plumped for the single malt number 1 release but it was quite close between both, which are priced identically.
St. George’s distillery has shown that England can create excellent whiskies to rival those north of the border. With more distilleries in the pipeline south of the border we should get used to such a sentiment. I’m not going to do a taste review on the basis of a single glass unlike some bloggers would. Number 1 noses very well and is thoroughly enjoyable. Whatever your choice you will enjoy this initial step with hopefully more to follow.