Tasting: Eden Mill Burns Day 2017 2-yo spirit

Dram data:
Distillery: Eden Mill
Bottler: Original Bottling
Distilled: 2015
Bottled: 2017
Age: 2 yo
Limitation: 500 20 cl bottles
Casks: US Virgin Oak
Alcohol: 43%
uncoloured
Whiskybase link

It’s always fun to taste spirit which can not yet be named whisky because it’s too young. This sample at hand comes from the young Eden Mill distillery in St. Andrews, which I visited in June 2017. I took a sample with me to assess in my usual tasting environment.

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 light gold
The nose is an obvious vanilla bomb, thanks to the quarter cask virgin oak casks being used. Custard cream and flambeed vanilla pudding meet fresh oak juice. Whoa, that’s intense at just 2 years of age. In the background you can still nose the fresh new make and only a slight metallic note, but the oak has really taken over already. Actually, I’m impressed how clean this noses at just 2 years. Also in the background is a caramel and malty note which I would at least in part attribute to the (for a Scotch) very unusual grain bill, including Crystal and Brown malt. There’s a herbal, spicy side to it as well – fresh juniper berries and allspice, I’d say. Actually, this reminds me of a vanilla-flavoured winter warmer tea with an added shot of alcohol. Quite a bit strange and unconventional, but they are in their experimentation phase right now!  Let’s check the palate! Light and accessible yet not too weak for 43% – and, again, surprisingly clean! Quite chewy and mouth-coating. The vanilla is back, obviously, there’s no escaping that, and so are the juniper berries and the allspice which form a herbal/spicy base, upon which rests a middle layer of malt, caramel and liquorice. Just like the nose, this is already full-on with virgin oak character, which is not my preferred style for Scotch, but it works at creating something nicely quaffable for just two years of age. The medium long finish is quite thick and surprisingly coating upon swallowing. Again, this does not taste like a normal sample of 2-year-old spirit, but what’s normal these days? We’ve got a very similar style to nose and palate – loads of vanilla, with caramel, oak and a growing herbal/spicy aspect towards the end.

Verdict: The final numerical score might seem a bit harsh, but since this spirit sample is so far along in maturation character, I am scoring it as if it were a whisky, so keep that in mind, it has to punch way above its weight. At just two years of age, this spirit shows a lot of character already. A lot of it stems from the small, fresh, virgin casks, but the base spirit behind it is very clean – and has a very unusual malt bill, which might account for some of the caramel character. Whilst I am personally not a fan of most virgin oak matured Scotches (I like the oak to be a bit more on the subtle side), I have to say this is surprisingly far along and quite quaffable. Given their good new make, I hope they’ve got a few good-quality 2nd-fill barrels squirrelled away to be bottled at 10 years and older, not needing to rely on very active wood as a backbone!

Score: 69/100

(Nose: 68 Palate: 69 Finish: 70)

Sample kindly provided by Eden Mill St. Andrews

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