Tasting: Abhainn Dearg NAS Single Malt

Abhainn Dearg NAS Single MaltDram data:
Distillery: Abhainn Dearg
Bottler: Original bottling
Distilled: 2008(?)
Bottled: ?
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: Single Cask
Alcohol: 46%
Unchillfiltered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Now that the blog’s moved to the new domain and the new server, let’s find something interesting to review for the “first” post on the new site. How about this one? A single malt from the only distillery on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides? A rather low-key and rarely mentioned farm distillery with a homemade setup! I finally tracked down a mini in Speyside this year! Info on it is hard to come by – the website describes it as the inaugural bottling (no other miniature available?) and the mini itself mentions it’s a single cask bottling. Without any further info I’ll have to classify it as NAS of unknown vintage… Well, let’s crack it open and have a wee nose and taste!

Tasting notes:
pale white wine
The nose opens on a light whiff of alcohol, quite fresh – minty – with a touch of vanilla, custard and a very noticeable background oak note which I can only describe as new oak press board in a joiner’s workshop – strange, but interesting! There’s also a light citrus-like note, something along the lines of a mix of slightly older limes and tangerines. with a slice of ginger thrown in for good measure. Very fresh and light overall, but no off notes as can often be found in very young 3yo whisky. The palate is also on the light side, yet mouth-coating, the aromas take some time to develop. The oak press board is back and dominates, accompanied by custard, oak-flavoured, sugar-reduced candyfloss, a touch of pickled ginger, dried herbal flower petals (a mixture of flowery and bitter), green mint and an old orange. This still needs a few more years to mellow out, but it certainly isn’t bad at all and exhibits a unique character! The medium long finish is actually surprisingly rounded upon swallowing – just slightly alcoholic/minty. It is on the fresh side with muted sweet, herbal and oaky notes, with the oak getting stronger towards the end.

Huh! This is actually surprisingly good! I feared the worst after hearing horror stories about their “Spirit of Lewis”, bottled before it was legally whisky (thus under three years old). Well, the distillate still has quite a way to go (they’re planning to release a 10-year old in 2018!) from this most likely 3-year-old sample, but it is very drinkable and shows the unique character of the supposedly first legal distillery in the Outer Hebrides. I probably wouldn’t buy a whole bottle, especially since they’re a whopping 150 GBP, but if you see a mini, do give it a try!

Score: 71/100
(Nose: 71 Palate: 70 Finish: 70)

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2 Replies to “Tasting: Abhainn Dearg NAS Single Malt”

    1. Thanks, Sam. Sorry to hear you don’t like it. The packaging does say something about a single cask, so there might well be different ones out there…

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