The best things do indeed come to those who wait. Stirling’s the picture of patience as he waits to sip a Scottish dram that’s yet to be crafted…
I’m no good at waiting. Not for busses, not for dinner, and certainly not for a dram. So imagine my chagrin when, with heavy heart, I hear that R&B are still waiting for their distillery. The poor chaps. How can this be fair?
Stand firm, fear not – they have a plan. While they and I await the Raasay Distillery to rise, brick by brick, beneath Dùn Caan, the highest point on the Isle of Raasay they have crafted the aptly names ‘While We Wait’ expression. A single malt whisky crafted by bringing together two expressions from one distillery: one peated, one unpeated. This, along with two other releases (Borders and The Tweeddale Blend) complete the triumvirate of drams available from R&B as the bricks are laid and thoughts drift towards the day the first drops emerge gently from the copper.
This precise combination is a tantalising prediction of the flavours that will be produced at the new distillery on the Isle of Rasaay, off the remote west coast of Skye. The smoky peat is softened in the finishing process which occurs in French oak Tuscan red wine casks and results in a unique, lightly fruity aroma and a heather hue.
While We Wait offers very little smoke on the nose; instead, light fruity notes come through. It has a natural colour, with a slight heather tint imparted from the Tuscan red wine oak casks. On the palate, peat smoke and spice, then the sweeter, dry fruit from the casks mature to the fore, then linger pleasantly.
The ‘Borders’ echoes the soft rolling landscape of its future location in the south of Scotland. This single grain whisky is lighter and softer in flavour than the smoky peat dram of While We Wait. Matured in Bourbon casks and finished in Oloroso sherry casks, Borders has been produced to reflect a lowland style. Alasdair Day’s great-grandfather blended whisky in the Coldstream and now, over 150 years since the last distillery in the Scottish Borders, Alasdair is returning to his roots and planning to reinstate whisky in this forgotten region. Just announced, Peebles was selected by the Scottish general public as the preferred location for the new distillery.
If you hadn’t already worked out, R&B stands for Raasay and Borders; two landscapes brought together through one unique whisky company. Co-founder Alasdair Day embodies this coupling. His great grandfather, Allan MacDonald, hailed from the Hebrides while his other great grandfather, Richard Day, was a master blender in the Borders in the early 19th Century. It is this history that has prompted R&B’s ongoing project to build distilleries at these twin roots in the Isle of Raasay and in the Scottish Borders. And R&B have now been granted permission by the Highland Council to bring the first legal distillery to Raasay in the Inner Hebrides, an island where illicit distilling was once rife.
If these three drams are not enough, you can go all in and join the R&B Distillers Na Tùsairean Club (Scots Gaelic for ‘The Pioneers’) – an exclusive offering for whisky aficionados. The inaugural 100 casks of Raasay whisky will be bottled exclusively for Na Tùsairean members who will receive one bottle each year for ten years, gradually acquiring up a rare collection of R&B Whisk. Sign me up!
So, a dilemma ensues, I have to wait – and wait I shall. If the ‘While We Wait’ is indeed a hint of what’s to come out of Raasay it will indeed be worth the epic pertinence that will be requited. The great thing is we’ll not know for quite a while. As I ponder this, sipping a little WWW, I find that waiting has taken on a more acceptable demeanour.
Or perhaps it’s just the eager anticipations of what’s to come next.
While We Wait, priced at £56.85 and Borders priced at £49.98 will be available to buy directly from the R&B Distillers www.rbdistillers.com