Alasdair Day, co-founder of Raasay Distillery, invited us to try Raasay While We Wait 2018 at Bottles, the new Italian Wine Bar In Spitalfields we reviewed in July.
There is a fascinating back story to this. Raasay Island lies to the east of the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides. and the Raasay distillery is the first ever (legal) distillery there.
The distillery started business in 2017 but has to wait 3 years until it can call its own produce “whisky” so, in the meantime, it has worked with a partner distillery to produce the closest blend to what it expects from its first cull in 2020.
Now wait; there is even more interest to this story. To achieve the blend they were going for, and based on his grandfather’s special recipe book of blends, Raasay is one of only a few distilleries to age whisky in used wine casks, adding a rare fruitiness to the flavour. This is where the Raasay whisky is maturing right now.
To give us an idea of the taste to expect, Rassay While We Wait has been finished in Tuscan Montechiari Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc casks; not only does this nod to the Tuscan source of the distillery’s stills but the casks have been selected for the flavour that they lend to the whisky.
The story doesn’t end here. Starting such a business on a little island with a mere 160 residents presents problems but also opportunity. The distillery is now a major employer on the island and a number of new engineering-based graduates (who could not have dreamt to find work in their home town when they left to study) now work and build their lives and community back at home.
The distillery has a boutique hotel B+B looking out over the water to the Isle of Skye (where there is a decent golf course for addicts). It sounds like a little piece of heaven. If you can’t make the trip, then enjoy the flavour; Raasay While We Wait 2018 is available to purchase online on the distillery’s website at https://raasaydistillery.com.