North Start Spirits are one of the newcomers on the indy whiskey scene. Based in Glasgow and overseen by Iain Croucher, there is plenty of experience having been part of the long established A.D. Ratraay group. Now he is going it alone with his own Independent bottling company North Star Spirits Ltd. Having set up in 2016, the first batch of releases has already been and gone to much praise and a ‘take a second look’ at this kind of vibe from many scotch enthusiasts.
Recently the second batch of releases, a variety if single casks malts and grains along with single cask bourbon and special blended malt release hit the market and was snapped up quickly. Here at The Whisky Barrel we have managed to get our hands on some of this highly anticipated scotch whiskey, all bottled in May 2017. So let’s see what’s in store…
Let’s See the Scotch
Usually we love to accompany new whiskies like this with a wee tasting as well to get an idea for ourselves what’s happening in the bottle. Alas, this batch of new whiskies have been so popular we missed the boat on samples. However, as you’ll see from the distilleries, ages and vintages of these bottles, they are not to be sniffed at. The labels are quite eye catching too. Crisp, modern and ‘on trend’ with the expanding younger demographic of scotch drinkers. The name and design evokes the obvious connotations of star gazing. The notion of sitting round a fire, chatting, looking up at the stars, scotch in hand. Isn’t that just what whiskey should be about?
The Single Cask Malt Whiskey Series #002
A big rounded age statement is always a bonus. Distilled at Bunnahabhain distillery November 1986 and matured in a bourbon hogshead for 30 years. Just 84 bottles available. This looks to be a nice peppery and feisty Bunna with sweeter cinnamon notes and vanilla coming through, and a finish of clover and ginger. The North Start Spirit seems an appropriate match with an Islay malt whiskey; an island with an unfettered view of the stars.
Linkwood whiskey is a firm favourite with the independent whiskey bottlers. With official single malt bottlings a rarity, there is plenty of scope to explore this Speyside scotch whiskey on the indy scene. A favourite distillery among many customers as well. This single bourbon hogshead at cask strength, 60.2% gives you plenty to get the teeth round. Distilled in July 2006 and 290 bottles released. Like a dessert dram this one with dried fruits, lemon sherbet and creme brulee and a marzipan finish.
Matured in a sherry butt, some great colour has imparted onto this whisky. Glenallachie is perhaps one of Scotland’s understated and lesser know distilleries, but another whose whiskey the indies like to pick up on. The baby of the bunch distilled in August 2008 and at 8 years old but it’s all about the sherry cask singing here. Spicy, sweet fruitcake.
The Single Cask Grain Whiskey Series #002
North British single grain scotch whiskey is becoming a bit of a stalwart among the indy whiskey followers. As Edinburgh’s only distillery (currently) there is onus on Scotland’s capital to produce quality and the indy bottlers have stepped up again. Solid age statements and usually good whiskey to boot. Distilled in October 1995 and matured in a bourbon barrel, a nice dark stained wood colouring has come through. Just 146 bottles of this scotch of dark chocolate, raisin and smooth creamy finish.
Bourbon Whiskey from Tennessee
A ‘Mystery Bourbon’ from Tennessee, USA. Although we are reliably informed this is from the George Dickel Cascade Hollow Distillery :-). A single cask bourbon distilled November 2003 and matured for 13 years in American Oak before bottling in May 2017. Only 154 bottles available. Un-chillfiltered and bottled at 51.3%, the tasting notes hint at toffee and walnut with classic bourbon charcoal. Plenty of vanilla and some fresh citrus and crisp oily finish.
A Special Blended Scotch Whiskey
Like us, the name ‘Vega’ will probably make you scratch you head. Turns out its quite significant. Keeping in with the Astronomy theme of North Star Spirits, Vega takes its name from the 5th brightest star in the sky. One destined to replace Polaris as our North Star. That’s in 11,000 years mind, so you can stop staring into the night sky now! A limited Edition blended scotch whisky distilled October 1993, it has matured for a minimum of 23 years in Spanish and American Oak. It is a lovely deep copper colour and is well balanced sweet and spicy number. Speyside in there, no doubt. Bottled at cask strength, non chill-filtered and limited to just 400 bottles, this feel like a whiskey to open and share with friends.
All are available to buy online now. Support for another Scottish independent whiskey bottling company; North Star Spirits Ltd.