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Torabhaig Distillery and the Cnoc Na Moine Release

Torabhaig Distillery and the Cnoc Na Moine Release

Torabhaig life started long before the release of the Legacy Series in 2021. The story of the distillery goes all the way back to the mid 15th Century where the McLeod and MacDonald clans fought constantly over the Sound of Sleat. The stronghold here was Caisteal Chamuis (Knock Castle) a Castle stronghold situated on the coast overlooking the Sound to Malaig and Knoydart. This Castle changed hands in many a bloody skirmish before being abandoned whilst under MacDonald rule. The last record of it being inhabited was in 1632, and by 1689 it was empty.

The Torabhaig Distillery with Caisteal Chamuis overlooking the Sound of Sleat

After the castle lay dormant and fell into ruin, a local farmer, in around 1760, built Knock House Farm. Then in 1820, the stones from the Castle were used in the building of a farm steading at Knock Farm just meters away from the site of the castle. It was this same farm building that was renovated and became the Torabhaig Distillery.

Supplied by two streams, Allt Gleann (The Burn of the Valley) and Allt Breacach (The Speckled Burn), the distillery was designed to create a spirit that would capture the essence of Skye’s rugged landscape and coastal environment.

The Orignal Farm building that became the Distillery

Torabhaig spirit has been advertised as ‘well tempered peat’ and it’s easy to see why. The high level of peated barley comes in to the distillery at between 77 and 79ppm which is a good 20% higher than the likes of Laphroaig and Ardbeg. 

They don’t, however, cut quite as deep into their heart of their spirit run which means the medicinal compounds known as cresols aren’t allowed to run over into the final spirit. They do collect a different phenol known as Guaiacol which is responsible for smoky, woody and often cigar ash aromas.

The barley is sourced from Crisp Maltings at Port Gordon which indicates that the barley is from St Fergus in Aberdeenshire, which also presents a woodier, smokier flavour profile than the West Coast and Islay peat style, which tends to be saltier and more coastal. It is therefore an interesting combination of peat style, PPM level and spirit runs that allow the distillery to create this wonderful and unique character.

Cncoc Na Moine is the third of the Legacy Series, following the 2017 release and the double header of Allt Gleann and Allt Gleann Batch Strength. The Legacy Series will highlight the journey towards a 10 year old Single Malt, due to be released in 2028. The Concoct Na Moine is the first release to include sherry casks in the make up, with previous releases using a combination of first fill and refill Bourbon casks.

The name translates into Hill of Peat, and is a hill found across the Sound of Sleat on the mainland, by Knoydart.

We were delighted to showcase the whisky as part of our Torabhaig and Mossburn Tasting event hosted at the Inverurie Whisky Shop on Saturday, 23rd March by Stewart Dick, Brand Ambassador.

Afterwards, I took a wee sample home and indulged with a fresh palate a couple of days later.

Mikes Tasting Notes:

Nose:

Burnt orange peel and damp peat lead to a vanilla sweetness. Leather and cigar leaf bind together to form the backbone of a familiar nose, where coastal elements tinker with a new note to Torabhaig liquid. Subtle blackcurrants, figs and toasted almond offer complexity and depth with a rounded, more mature feel than previous expressions.

Palate:

Always cautious not to overindulge in any of their flavours, Torabhaig can sometimes be accused of playing safe. However what this ethos does is provide balance, depth and a rounded flavour in the glass. It would have been easy for the blending team to get over excited with the addition of sherry, like many new distilleries before them. Using overbearingly fresh casks to load the spirit with colour and flavour, using sales pitches to appeal to “sherry bomb” fandom. However this has been played subtly, with around 8% of the overall make up of the whisky matured in a combination of Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso casks, both first and refill varieties. Ultimately, the spirit has been nurtured and enhanced rather than lost to the cask.

There’s a youthful intensity in the spirit, hardly surprising given that the oldest whisky in the bottle is barely seven years old. It comes in the form of freshly cut barley out in the fields of the farm. It’s musty, damp and quite honestly, brilliant. The first and refill Bourbon cask bear the bulk of the influence, predominantly with sweet nuts, toasted almonds and hazelnut. Typically, vanilla is also here with some sweet honey and salted caramel ice cream. Some Caramac appears in this sweet play which hits immediately, but then comes some smoke in the form of toasted oak, freshly lit cigars and barbecue ash. The sherry is almost undetectable but for some spikes of pepper and dark chocolate which becomes more apparent as the finish develops.

Finish:

The finish is long and complex. There’s a youthful vibrancy again, the alcohol melts quickly leaving a subtle pepper but waves of light smoke and toasted marshmallow carry a savory and sweet flavour speckled with white and dark chocolate. Tobacco and coastal notes play a long and fitting tune as the flavour softly fades.

Review

This is not a sherry bomb. Drinkers will no doubt be attracted by Torabhaig’s first sherry influenced whisky but do not be fooled. It is a cleverly put together whisky that uses the core influence of the whisky to its advantage. The rugged influence of Skye is here in abundance and just ever so slightly guided by the notes of sherry. Yes it is young, and tellingly so, but as we’ve learned as a whisky drinking community, this does not mean it is poor quality or lacking in any way. It is a delightful dram and paves the way forward for the distillery to become a highlight in the ever growing new wave of Scotch whisky distilleries.

Nächster Artikel Eine Rezension von unserem „Wine Guy“ Darren Buck

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