Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Review / InchDairnie Ryelaw

This whisky is the highly anticipated first release from the Fife distillery of InchDairnie. The Ryelaw was distilled from a mix of 53% malted rye and 47% malted barley in 2017. Both cereals were grown at farms in the Kingdom of Fife, including Ryelaw Farm from which the whisky takes its name. The spirit was then matured in charred virgin American oak casks for five years. It has been bottled at 46.3% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. Ryelaw is made for just one week each year at the groundbreaking distillery, which features one of only two mash filters in the Scotch whisky industry (the other is at Teaninich in the Highlands) and a bespoke Lomond still. 

The InchDairnie distillery was founded in 2015 with the first distillation taking place in Decemeber of that year. It is located close to the town of Glenrothes in Fife, Scotland. InchDairnie is owned by John Fergus & Co. which was formed by Scotch whisky industry stalwart Ian Palmer. The focus of the distillery is flavour, innovation and experimentation. Unusally, they make five styles of whisky - InchDairnie single malt, Ryelaw, KinGlassie peated single malt, Strathenry to be used in blends and the experiemental Prinlaws Collection featuring different cereals, yeasts and casks. The current capacity is two million litres per year.

"We have been preparing for over a decade, and only now we feel the quality of RyeLaw meets our exacting standards. While we are rooted in Scotch whisky tradition, we have explored what is possible when agriculture meets industry and innovative technologies combine with methodology." 
Ian Palmer / Founder & Managing Director at Inchdairnie.
InchDairnie Ryelaw is available from specialist and luxury retailers in the UK now, with further worldwide distribution following shortly. A bottle will cost £110. 

Our tasting notes

The colour is deep gold and the nose is sweet and fruity. Aromas of banana, cherry and blackcurrant kick things off alongside vanilla fudge, toffee and caramel. There is also something floral in the mix and this sits alongside further savoury aromas of sandalwood, cocoa powder and bitter orange peel.

On the palate this whisky is sweet and spicy to begin with. A distinct peppery note gives a little heat, which then fades as the sweeter notes begin to establish themselves. This makes the whisky feel creamy and soft. The sweetness has a confected nature and is reminiscent of milk chocolate, marshmallow and orange fondant icing. Then comes some vanilla fudge and maraschino cherry to add to this.

With time more savoury notes develop. These start out quite biscuity and cereal-like before becoming more spicy and warming. These soft spices include cinnamon, white pepper and a hint of gingerbread, plus some clove and eucalyptus evolving later. A late dose of toasted oak also comes through nicely. The overall impression is of a lovely, balanced and rounded whisky.

The finish is of decent length and holds together well, especially as the sweetness lingers. Once this begins to fade it starts to becomes more mouthwatering, spicy and warming. A lovely bittersweet maltiness is also present. Some late dryness comes from the oak.

What's the verdict?

The Ryelaw is a delicious and lovely first whisky from InchDairnie. It has been a while in the making as their philosophy was not to bottle something at three years old, but to wait until the profile of the whisky was ready. We applaud them for this and as a result we have a whisky that tastes beyond its years. 

The price is a bit top end but not that dissimilar from other such releases from new distilleries. We like thet InchDairnie are expanding the boundaries of Scotch single grain whisky in this way and changing what people think it is. They are also expanding the flavour profile of the Scotch whisky category by using different grains. We cannot wait to see what will be next from them.

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