Black Rory is inspired by the whisky produced in the Coquet Valley in Northumberland in the 18th Century. Both the bottle and the website provide atmospheric pictures reflecting the area where spirit of its type was said to arrive, ready to be smuggled, tax free, onto inns and taverns. This inspiration reminded me strongly of ‘Captain Clegg’, a 1962 film that DBS & I have watched recently, starring Peter Cushing and containing many an 18th Century smuggler and pirate.
Prior to its production, the master blender of Black Rory visited the Coquet Valley to discover the nature of the water and peat of the area. He then returned to Scotland to search for a blend a range of whiskies in line with this inspiration. This blend is the result.
On its own
Nose: Rich, sweet and heavy, this was rather liqueur-like, with a distinctive fruitiness, reminiscent of dry raisins or cherries.
Taste: Wow – this tasted strong! Although there wasn’t any burn, it was both very warming and full of flavour. The main body of flavour was complex wood, highlighted with vanilla, oak, light peat and orange. The end of the finish was slightly bitter, neatly counteracting the initial sweetness.
The Rob Roy
This was a magnificent copper/auburn colour. The nose was also quite remarkable, being mainly savoury, but with hints of sweet paprika and a distinctive chilli/pepper edge. To taste, it was initially smooth, before revealing a burst of flavour obviously from the bitters. A whole range of notes then played out, including: herbal notes, like basil; and sweet, spicy notes, like paprika and cherry. This then faded to a lighter, and relatively clean, citrus finish. An impressive, flavourful cocktail.
The nose to this one was similar to the first, but with a higher proportion of sweet spiciness, which faded into a woodiness. It tasted sweeter to start, but the flavour then kept “seesawing” between the sweet, spicy, wood notes and a dryer, more herbal flavour.
A rich, vibrant red, this had both the same spicy, chilli notes on the nose, along with some strong herbal notes from the bitters. Unlike DBS, I very rarely drink a Negroni, so my initial response to this was some shock regarding its bitterness; it was exceptionally bitter to start, gradually fading to a longer, less severe flavour. I caught smoke on the finish, along with a woody dryness.
Whisky & Soda
This was lighter on both the nose and the palette. There were fresh, lively herbal notes, liquorice, light peat and straw, and a dryness. To start, it tasted of straw and malt, which faded quickly into the familiar bitterness of soda water. The finish was very clean and, after a few minutes, with a bit of ice melt, this transformed into a light, refreshing long drink.
A different nose this time, focusing more on the herbal, basil-like edge of the whisky, anise and honey. A slight hint of plastic appeared towards the end. It tasted very bitter at the front of the mouth, before gradually building into a strong maltiness, like beer. Not my favourite & not recommended for anyone who doesn’t like beer!
Another refreshing, different nose; lots of the whisky came through in this drink, with wood, malt and a touch of sweet orange – like orange fondant. Herbal notes kicked in at the end. The taste developed slowly from sweet orange, to a powerful, lemony sourness that faded into a more general bitterness. Richer, heavier notes akin to red vermouth gave a warm, rounded finish. I really enjoyed this cocktail, which allowed the whisky to come through without being completely dominant.
This had a neat nose of wood, malt and lemon. It was a perfectly smooth and balanced combination of wood, malt, light peat and the fresh zing of lemon on the aftertaste. Neither too strong, nor too sweet, this was “just right” on practically every level; delicious.
Black Rory is a tasty, savoury whisky that packs a punch, warms you up, and has an unexpected, lightly bitter finish. As a result, it works well in a whole range of cocktails, especially those that might otherwise be too sweet or dull. My favourite, without a doubt, was the Toddy, closely followed by the Churchill and then the Rob Roy. And how could I say no to a no-nonsense tumbler of the Rory straight, when the bottle reminds me so strongly of Peter Cushing and all of his 18th Century smuggling?
– Mrs. B
Black Rory is avaialble from the Spirit of Coquet Website at £36 for 70cl.
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