The Crabbie name has been associated with the Scotch whisky industry since the early 1800s and founder John Crabbie selected whiskies for blending and bottling from all over Scotland. He is considered an early pioneer of whisky blending. After disappearing in the early 20th century, the company has now been reborn under the ownership of Halewood Wine & Spirits. This includes a single malt range that features an 8 years old Highland, 12 years old Peated Island plus older age statements of 25, 30 and 40 years old from Speyside.
The reinvention includes the building of a new distillery in Granton, Edinburgh and this began production last year. The first casks of whisky were laid down to mature in November 2018. Crabbie's also have a second distillery in the pipeline and this is based in Graham Street, Leith. It is due to open and begin production in September. As with many new whisky distilleries, they will also be producing Crabbie's gin.
"Crabbie’s Yardhead is a single malt made for mixing. We want to encourage consumers to look at single malt differently, and for bar staff to develop new ways of using single malt. John Crabbie was an innovator who challenged convention and he would have approved of the new Yardhead."
David Brown - Managing Director at John Crabbie & Co.
Crabbie's Yardhead, which was officially launched at events in Edinburgh and London in July, is bottled at 40% ABV and is available now in selected specialist whisky retailers and supermarkets. A bottle will cost £26/ $32 US.
Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is sweet and lively. Youthful aromas of crisp green apple and lemon zest combine nicely with those of butterscotch and vanilla. There are hints of cookie dough and baking spice in the background.
On the palate this whisky is again sweet and vibrant with a pleasant lightness. There are initial notes of butterscotch, toffee and vanilla and these are backed up by the crisp apple from the nose. This adds a green, juicy and slightly tart edge to things. Then comes the cookie/biscuit-like note again and a twist of lemon zest, both followed by warming baking spices (think of cinnamon and all-spice with a pinch of clove). Later notes of heather honey, brown sugar and a hint of candied lime add some depth.
The finish is short and sweet, turning quite hot and peppery once those butterscotch and toffee notes fade. The peppery nature increases to give a mouth watering quality and a feeling of dryness. A very late hint of the crisp green apple rounds everything off.
What's the verdict?
The Crabbie's Yardhead is not the most complex whisky ever but then it is not supposed to be. It is light, sweet and youthful. It is specifically designed to be used within a cocktail or with a mixer and these are qualities that you need to work well in both scenarios.
By tasting it neat, as we do for all whiskies that we review, we are probably doing it a disservice. But it is pleasant enough and decently priced for a young 'no age statement' single malt. At the launch, where a number of cocktails had been created to show it off, Yardhead performed better. This was no surprise as the sweetness in particular shone through.