Origin: Speyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon first fill and refill
Added colouring: No
Average price: € 140.00
Official website: N/A
I begin the cavalcade of this year Diageo’s special releases with perhaps the most eagerly awaited bottling of all, the first official one from the Roseisle distillery.
Founded in 2009 in the heart of Speyside, near Elgin, the distillery was born as “cannon fodder” for the beverage giant’s blends, with a gargantuan production of 13 million litres per year thanks to the fourteen pot stills present, with the ability to create different styles of malt whisky by playing on mashing, fermentation and more or less prolonged contact with copper between stills and condensation columns.
All this is done in a fully automated manner (including cutting off heads and tails) and with a biomass plant to minimise the impact on the environment.
Cask maturation takes place in warehouses in Glasgow, and in 2011 Diageo celebrated the start of distillation with a blended malt (Triumph) composed of whiskies from the twenty-seven distilleries in its portfolio, of which Roseisle was the twenty-eighth.
And let’s talk about this first official Roseisle bottling, part of the Spirited Xchange that is the theme of this year’s Special Releases, where the illustrations on the label are meant to evoke maturation and tasting notes of the bottles.
In this case, the origami kite recalls the fusion of basic elements at the heart of the distillate, just as paper, wood, twine and a touch of alchemy are the foundations of an ancient, centuries-old art that combines wonder and simplicity, creating delicate paper folds that ride the sky on the waves of the wind… a bit of a stretch, but we’ll take it…
The nose is a riot of fruit and vanilla, sweetly rich with apricot, peach in syrup, ripe banana and custard with intrusions of citric notes. Lots of confectionery that continues with shortcrust pastry, almond paste, honey (almost to a waxy vein in the background) and malt. The fruit evolves into tropical declinations, allowing some floral inflections to emerge over time, amplified with the addition of water. No alcohol bruise. The impact is very welcoming.
Things change on the palate, the alcohol content brings its weight to bear with a rather lively initial burst, in which black pepper decisively punctuates a score that is less prone to softness, where fruit and confectionery products are imbued with bitter and vegetal notes that (positively) dampen the sweetness, with anise and a hint of rhubarb. Any waxy vagueness has vanished, tropical and citric fruit grows with nuts (walnuts, almonds), vanilla slips in the background and some rough wood sprouts up along the length.
The finish is quite long and dry, slightly spicy, with nuts, tropical fruit, custard, vegetal and at times balsamic notes.
This is a debut that doesn’t go unnoticed, with balances and dichotomies expressed in a masterly manner and without smearing, managing to embody the souls of the terroir, which, just to be a bit of a fusspot, appears perhaps a little scholastic. But taking off the nerd glasses, it remains a very pleasant, well constructed, successful and disproportionately priced whisky, more or less what can be said of many other recent debuts.