Provenance: Isle of Lewis (Scotlands)
Typology: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon
Added coloring: No
Owner: Abhainn Dearg
Average price: € 80.00
Official website: www.abhainndearg.co.uk
It’s with a certain pride that we are the first in Italy to present a review of a bottling from a decidedly pioneering Scottish distillery: Abhainn Dearg.
It’s located on the island of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, a location that isn’t easy to reach and is waiting to be discovered.
There had been no whisky production on the island for almost 170 years when, in 2008, Mark Tayburn reclaimed an old building used for farming and fish processing to build his distillery.
Everything is strictly local and handmade, at every stage of production, including bottling: being so artisanal, production is rather low (around 20,000 litres a year) and bottles are not easy to come by.
The last (legal) distillery on Lewis had been Shoeburn, which reached full production in 1833, largely absorbed by locals alone. There was an attempt at expansion which failed almost immediately, leading to closure around 1840 and demolition in 1844, when the island was bought by a fervent prohibitionist, who built a castle in place of the distillery.
Abhainn Dearg (pronounced Aveen Jarræk and meaning “distillery of the red river” in Gaelic) was born thanks to the stubbornness of its founder, who strongly wanted to recover the island’s tradition also in the construction of the stills, whose design recalls the crude one of the abusive distilleries of the past (used by Tayburn’s grandfather).
This ten year old follows the distillery’s first official whisky, a 3 year old (Spirit of Lewis) released in 2011, and ended up in our hands thanks to a dear friend who brought it to us from her trip to these remote lands, contained in a small bottle (5cl sample, a perfect reproduction of the 70cl bottle) that looks like a perfume!
Pale golden yellow in the glass, all natural.
The nose is sweet and delicate, with marked herbaceous scents, very fresh. Toast, honey, almonds, a touch of cherry: not very complex, young, but pleasant.
On the palate, slightly pungent alcohol, which accompanies without stultifying the freshness of the meadow that forms the background to a profile that is always very delicate: more honey and almonds, biscuits, a hint of lemon and salt, wood. Considering the harshness of the place where it was distilled, it’s a very calm and firm whisky, simple and linear.
The finish is medium-long, with wood, grass and lemon.
A very young expression that needs further work, as if it were searching for its own personality that isn’t yet well defined.
The project is commendable and to be supported, I’m curious to see what they will produce over time.