Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New release - Adnams No.1 Single Malt

The No.1 Single Malt is the first single malt whisky to be released by The Copper House Distillery, which is located in the English town of Southwold in Suffolk and owned by the well known brewer Adnams. The distillery started production in November 2010 and has already released a range of other award-winning spirits, including gin and vodka. Master Distiller John McCarthy has hand selected the casks for this initial whisky release, which have finally reached the minimum legal age of three years.

Adnams have been making beer there for over 100 years and they produce a range of highly awarded cask and bottled beers, plus the also own a chain of pubs, hotels and wine shops. The Single Malt No.1 is made from 100% East Anglian barley and has been matured in new French oak casks.  It is joined by a second release - the Triple Grain No.2. This has been matured in new American oak casks and has been produced using East Anglian barley, wheat and oats.

Both are released at 43% ABV and are available via www.adnams.co.uk, the company's Cellar & Kitchen chain of stores and selected specialist retailers at a cost of £43.99.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is fresh, vibrant and very woody.  There are a mix of simple but expressive aromas fighting for attention - think of oak, honey, vanilla, coconut and fresh pencil shavings. Underneath some bittersweet malty cereals and golden syrup, plus hints of butterscotch and cinnamon.

On the palate this initially feels soft and creamy with some exaggerated honey and vanilla notes coming immediately to the fore. Then some creamed coconut and another note reminiscent of apricot jam begins to come through before BOOM, the taste buds are hit with a tsunami of oak and wood spices.  These instantly dry out the palate to leave a tannic and slightly bitter edge.  The oak is reminiscent of fresh wood shavings and the woody spice has a predominant cinnamon-like note to it, with hints of ginger and liquorice underneath.  As the woodiness subsides with time in the mouth, some malty cereals and dried grass notes appear.

The finish is long and very woody.  It has a little chili-like heat to it, which is probably due to its youthful age.  The woodiness is very oaky and the result is to dry the mouth out.  The dried grass, bittersweet malt and cinnamon add depth.  Very little sweetness is detected, other than some background honey and caramel.

What's the verdict? 
This No.1 Single Malt is interesting and Some may find the increasing dry woodiness overpowering, but there is some sweetness there that attempts to balance it.  The addition of water makes the whisky softer and creamier - the wood spices are knocked back and the vanilla, honey and cereals are allowed to shine.  We preferred it with water.

This product has been released literally as soon as it has hit the three year old minimum age limit, so it will be interesting to see how the spirit develops with extra maturation time or in different and larger casks.  However, it is good to see another English whisky on the market and worth trying if you can.

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