Speyburn is maybe the least sexy of all Inverhouse distilleries : while anCnoc and Balblair are releasing new expressions quite often, Speyburn has not really been active in recent years. Of course there are a few basic expressions, and some good 25 year olds (and a great single cask here and there), but still, the brand is not very popular in most countries. Last year (2017), Speyburn has rebranded it’s basic range, there’s a new packaging and new label and the bottles look better. In addition to the re-branded bottles, the distillery has also released a brand new 15 year old, which I was lucky enough to taste with the other two expressions on a live Facebook event hosted by Brand Ambassador Lukasz Dynowiak. I know I’ve reviewed the 10 yo in the past, but this was a good opportunity to try and review the three together, So why not?
The first whisky to be reviewed today is the ‘Bradan Orach’: Gaelic for ‘Golden Salmon’, Bradan Orach is an entry level Speyside whisky, matured exclusively in American Oak ex-bourbon casks. This bright single malt was named in honour of the world-class salmon fishing found on the River Spey.
Nose: lots of apple peel, pears and a hint of coconut, and citrus. Fresh and young.
Palate : quite sharp, with apple peel, wood shavings, vanilla and cereals, toast..
Finish : cereal, bitter wood, apple.
This is quite a basic, entry level malt, as can be expected. It’s not bad, but not very interesting as well, quite fresh yet not impressive, and mostly aimed at beginners looking for a budget malt for the same amount of a decent blended whisky. I would look elsewhere, but it good for what it is – a young basic malt.
The next whisky we’re about to review boasts an age statement, ans is matured in a combination of American Oak ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. I’ve reviewed this one five or so years ago, and Although I do not remember it very well, I do remember it was Ok-ish, no more.
Nose: this feels a tad better. It’s rounder, not as young. Sweeter, creamier with vanilla and more cereal, with a touch of lemon wafers.
Palate : a bit more sherry sweetness, a bit of dark chocolate, biscuits and vanilla citrus cookies,wood shavings.
Finish : sweet, with cocoa, cereal and a hint of raisin.
This is a tad better indeed. It does not feel so young, and it’s tighter and a bit richer due to the use of some ex-Sherry casks, but it’s still quite a basic single malt. It’s not bad , but it’s also not very exciting, I think you can certainly find better malts at the same price point.
Last but not least of course, comes the new 15 year old expression : again we’re talking both American oak and Spanish oak casks , and this time we’re getting a bit more oomph with 46% abv, as opposed to the basic 40%… Pricing is also a bit higher, but for a 15 year old it’s quite fair.
Nose :deeper, with much more sherry, some sultana, chocolate, cocoa and a nice touch of ripe orange.
Palate: wood, sweet pastries, sultana and ripe oranges, some marmalade, and spice mostly pepper, cinnamon. Milk Chocolate with raisin, ginger powder and a musty edge.
Finish : sweet sultana, spices, wood.
This certainly is a notch better than previous drams, it’s more rounded, more complex, and feels mature and very enjoyable. It’s perhaps not one of the best whiskies I’ve had this year, but It’s a fun dram, quite more-ish and easy going. Certainly a good option at this age group. A bit more oomph would have helped (48%? more?), at any rate I would recommend getting this one if you’re interested in trying some Speyburn and do not want to shell more money for the lovely 25.