It was not so much the Angels’ Share, more the “Hell’s” Angels’ Share as Speyside Distillery crossed to the dark side to launch its new ruby-black whisky – Beinn Dubh – at Europe’s biggest Harley Davidson motorcycle rally a few months ago (30 August, 2015)
The single malt was unveiled to over 3,000 motorbike enthusiasts who gathered in Aviemore in the Cairngorms – the home of the tiny boutique distillery – for the annual Thunder in the Glens event.
Speyside Distillery CEO John Harvey McDonough says there was no better platform to launch Beinn Dubh than at the biker rally, which draws Harley enthusiasts and visitors from all over the UK and Europe.
He adds, “Whisky drinkers know all about the Angels’ Share – the term for the whisky that evaporates into the atmosphere during maturation – but with the launch of our new whisky at a motorbike rally, it’s possible that the angels who were looking over Beinn Dubh were wearing black leathers and biker boots.”
Beinn Dubh was the name given to Ben Macdui – the highest peak in the Cairngorm mountain range – by Professor Norman Collie after his solo climb to the summit in 1891. It translates from Gaelic as the black mountain – a reference to the mystical and spooky atmosphere Prof Collie encountered on Ben Macdui.
Speyside Distillery wanted to recreate the essence of the black mountain in a bottle, and Beinn Dubh was born. It gets its unusual colouring because it has been finished in toasted port casks from the Douro Valley in Portugal.
Speyside Distillers Ltd managing director Patricia Dillon says, “Like the mountain, the whisky is dark and mysterious. It is very much the whisky of the Cairngorms” – the water used in its production is from the Black Mountain itself, and the malted barley is sourced locally.
“We are deeply passionate about the Cairngorms and our links to this area: the landscape, the history and the people are very much part of the distillery’s story. The Cairngorms is a truly magical place and I can understand why thousands of bikers come to Thunder in the Glens to ride through this beautiful area.”
Beinn Dubh is a NAS expression bottled at 43% ABV (RRP of £50).
Nose: Frank with strong Port influence. The fruity side brings notes of plums, raisins, dried fruits and baked apple while I also got some burnt caramel, pecan pie, roasted marshmallows and treacle on the nose.
Palate: Thick and somewhat liquorice with wood smoke, oak spices, coffee beans, caramel, dried fruits, brown sugar, honey : warm and sweet but not overly complex. It’s got this fiery character on the tongue at first sip but finally gets more approachable and easy-drinking than what I initially expected from the nose.
Finsih: warm and sweet with dark chocolatey hints.
Overall, I must admit I was a bit skeptical about this expression, seeing it as some sort of “gimmicky” whisky – but I actually found it really interesting and would be more than happy to pour myself a glass of this “black whisky” after a hard-working day… It is definitely not too complex but its affordable price and approachable character makes it a perfect everyday dram. Maybe not a must-try but definitely good value for money and something to offer a sweet-toothed friend!
Find the recipe here!