Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Adnams fire a Broadside with the launch of their new whiskies

Adnams Whisky No 1
(Photo courtesy of Adnams)

Last summer I visited the Adnams brewery, well known in the UK for brewing some excellent beers, in Southwold, Suffolk.

During the brewery tour we were told about a whisky Adnams were planning to release. Originally scheduled for early 2013 the launch was delayed until December. What we weren't told during the tour is that they were planning to release two whiskies. So are the latest additions to the English whisky scene any good?

The Single Malt No 1 is made using local East Anglian Barley and aged in virgin French oak barrels. I read online that the whisky is made from the same wash as their Copper House Barley Vodka.

The Triple Grain No 2 is made from wheat and East Anglican oats and barley. The triple grain has been matured in virgin American oak barrels and is made from the same wash as their Longshore Premium Vodka.

Having produced just ten barrels of each whisky, Adnams have been hyping that stocks were sure to sell out quickly, an have pitched both bottles at the premium price of £44 each.

I clubbed together with a friend so that we could sample a dram of each.

Single Malt No 1
Distillery: Adnams, Southwold, England
Matured: French Oak
Alcohol: 43% ABV

Colour: Golden, with touches of amber

Nose: Smooth, not as much spice as I'd expect from virgin oak. Sweetness. Balanced, maybe a little too well as I struggled to pick up any distinguishing features.

Palate: The smoothness carries through to the palate. The sweetness leaves a light syrupy coating on the tongue. Only after I added water did the spice / oak really open up and the whisky develop on the palate.

Finish: Before adding any water the finish was decidedly short. The water helped the spice linger down the side of the tongue.

Triple Grain No 2
Distillery: Adnams, Southwold, England
Matured: American Oak
Alcohol: 43% ABV

Colour: Straw. Noticeably paler than the single malt.

Nose: Smooth and balanced. Remarkably similar to No 1. I was expecting a different profile considering it is a triple grain.

Palate: Again smooth and not as much spice as I would have expected from virgin oak. As a triple grain I was expecting the flavour to have hints of an American bourbon, but the flavour wasn't nearly as big. However, it was thankfully more rounded and a but more complex than the single malt making it a favourite. Again water helped bring out the spice / oak.

Finish: Similarly short, but the water helped lengthen the spice on the tongue.

Both were very drinkable, admirably smooth and generally impressive for such young whiskies. Adding water helped open up both drams and that will be my preference when I drink the rest of the bottle.

The more I drank the more they grew on me (some might call that getting tipsy). However, neither was as complex or as interesting as I'd hoped, or indeed would expect, for the price and I'm not sure I can forgive them for that.

Below is the official video by Adnams on their distilling process.

Drinking the Adnams whiskies I couldn't help remembering the Grants Cask Editions I sampled last year. At less than half the price, if I wanted another easy drinker I couldn't see myself buying the Adnams again.

If I was to give a dram I'd say three lightening bolts out of seven for the Single Malt and three and a half for the Triple Grain.

The Converted