A Sneak Preview of Adnams Whisky

Today, in addition to being Repeal Day* in the US, is also particularly exciting for another reason: today is the day that Adnams, the Distillery behind Broadside beer and – a particular favourite of mine – Spirit of Broadside, unveiled their whiskies for the very first time.

Jonathan Adnams Introduces the new Whisky

Jonathan Adnams Introduces the new Whisky

Now, technically, whisky must be aged in barrels for three years and these have only had two years so far, so they are more “whiskies-in-the-making”, but that by no means lessens my excitement over trying them.

The enthusiasm and energy of the folks at the Copper House Distillery is infectious and the sheer range of handcrafted products that they’ve managed to produce in the last two years is amazing (including three vodkas, two gins, two absinthes, a sloe gin and a number of liqueurs). I’m particularly fond of how they combine the scientific processes and more creative side of microdistilling, as well as how they combine both of these with the historic traditions and local pride of Adnams Brewery.

But let’s focus a little more on the whiskies…

The Whiskies-In-The-Making

Adnams Distiller John McCarthy tells us a little more about the Whisky

Adnams Distiller John McCarthy tells us a little more about the Whisky

We have two whiskies to try: one is made with the same wash as Adnams Copper House Barley Vodka, using East Anglian barley, and is matured in French oak barrels; the other uses the same wash as Adnams Longshore Premium Vodka, using a combination of wheat, East Anglian barley and oats, and is matured in American oak barrels.

It’s worth noting again that these whiskies are made in their entirety at Adnams, including the base spirit and the grains are locally sourced. The combination of brewery and distillery means that they have everything they need to start from scratch and therefore not only build the flavour from the base spirit up, but also ensure the high quality of the spirit.

As their names, etc. will be finalised over the next year, I’ll refer to them for now by number.

AdnamsWhisky SingleMaltWhisky 1 – (43% ABV) – made with East Anglian barley; aged in New French oak
(Barrels have a medium+ toast excluding cask heads)

Nose: Lovely, warm barley notes, backed by a cosy, yeasty note that reminds of warm, rising bread dough, but with a distinct sweetness to it, like a very light syrup (rather than Golden Syrup or honey – more like the lighter syrup that you get on steamed puddings). Wonderfully different and comforting – just what I was hoping for!
Taste: Light and smooth, but with a good warmth towards the end. The oak comes through first for me, as a really fresh, white wood note, followed by the weightier barley notes. Light hints of that same, dough-like yeast – not at all overpowering – appear throughout, bringing back positive memories of the Spirit of Broadside, only lighter.
Finish; Warm, almost chewy wood, that’s ever-so-slightly sweet.

AdnamsWhisky 3GrainWhisky 2 – (43% ABV) made with wheat, barley and oats; aged in New American oak
(Barrels have a medium+ toast, this time including cask heads)

Nose: Warmer and more complex than No. 1. More savoury notes come into play, which I assume is down to the wheat and/or oats, and there are sweeter wood notes towards the end, much more like golden syrup.
Taste: Savoury, with a notable, heavy, creamy note at the start that has aspects of yeast flavour from No. 1. This interplays with more dry, savoury notes of wheat and sweetness from the wood and lasts for a good while.
Finish: A very long, persistent finish of charred wood.

These will be released in 2013 (at the age of 3 years). In 2014, two new varieties of whisky are scheduled to be released: an 100% Rye (yup, a full 100%) aged in Russian oak; and a fourth incarnation, which will be aged in ex-Bourbon casks.

In Conclusion
I had high expectations of these, but, in my opinion, Adnams have already outdone themselves, producing two whiskies with such personality and character. I eagerly await the remaining 365 days before they are finished and released; in particular, No. 1, with its smooth, but no-nonsense profile of barley, bread dough and lightly sweet wood; neither too sweet or savoury, but just right. Bring on 2013!

– Mrs. B.

* Prohibition was repealed back on 5th December 1933.


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