As we begin to witness the craft distilling revolution I can’t help but wonder when it will hit Britain. More people with the means and determination are riding this distilling tidal wave of new make spirit into the history books but more importantly our whisky collections. Whiskies from these kind of producers are nearly always produced with local ingredients and with an absence of the dreaded E150 (Caramel ) and chill filtration. Offering up small batch artisan releases these whiskies can be a real breath of fresh air in a Scotch dominated category.
This review is looking at one such distiller, a couple of gents that on a fishing trip essentially decided between them to start a distillery. The Dry Fly distillery began its journey three years ago with a view to making a superior quality spirit and was the first distillery to open in Washington in over a 100 years. It’s not unusual for new starting distilleries to make their bread and butter with unaged spirits such as Gin. This essentially means once you have everything in place you can fire up production and start to make a living. Whisky of course takes a little more time and although we often exude the virtue of young whisky there’s a lot to be said for just a few years in oak. Dry Fly currently make Vodka, Gin, Bourbon and a Wheat Whiskey. As the years tick by I’m sure we’ll see an interesting portfolio of whiskies emerge from these guys and on the basis of what we’ve been trying here I’ve no doubt there’s going to be some awesome stuff in the pipe line.
Before we get stuck into the whiskey it’s worth just taking a look at one of the main differences between these styles of whiskey and our usual and much loved staple of scotch. Some of the main elements of character in whiskies of this style are set early on, not by malting or the still shape or design, yes these play there part here just as they do with our malts but the big difference is the mash bill. Bourbon for example will use a backbone of Corn balanced out with Rye and other grains. Different distillers will play with the percentages to create the style that they’re looking for. This simply isn’t a factor with single malt as there is the only one grain, malted barley. Corn creates a light spirit and flavour whereas Rye will give you a richer and bolder spirit. In the case of this first whiskey reviewed here the only grain used is Wheat. This is unique and certainly isn’t the norm, as far as I know there’s only one other wheat whiskey on the market. So testament to the smaller outfits breaking the mould and producing something different, even the bottle isn’t sitting in what would be regarded as a traditional design for a whiskey.
Toasted sweet pastry, buttery hot cross buns, bounty bars and vanilla ice cream.
Incredibly light and soft and doesn’t behave like any whisky I’ve ever tried before. It’s really quite bizarre but a welcome change. Reminds me of weetos cereal and the thin layer of rice paper I used to find on the back of coconut macaroons.
Creamy, sweet with oak spice and plenty of vanilla
A really interesting dram, and you can really taste the grain, maybe having grown up with so many wheat based cereals is the reason why I find this whiskey quite distinctive. Really unique and will reward the whisk(e)y adventures who aren’t afraid to take a plunge into a brave new style.
Continuing the thread of new and unusual is this new and slightly experimental whiskey. This is as far as I’m aware a first. Here we have a hybrid whiskey made from 50% rye and 50% wheat. Now Rye whiskies are seeing a revival at the minute and with good reason, they have a bit more guts than your average American whiskey and before Bourbon took the helm as Americas spirit Rye was there as the whiskey of choice. By combining this hardy grain with wheat and slamming it in some good wood the result has to be interesting and hopefully tasty because it’s all well and good being unusual and experimental but what’s it all worth if your whiskey isn’t great to drink.
A far bigger and far richer nose than the Wheat whisky. Offering up ginger bread, cinnamon and dried fruit, you have all the subtlety of the wheat with the harder rye character fighting back.
Plenty of oak and spice, ginger nut biscuits, apple strudel and a distinctive flavour that I only get with well, Rye. Not quite as refined as the wheat whiskey, the rye is dominating the overall character with the subtle wheat charm losing out. The extra strength gives the mouth feel some real oomph.
The gingerbread comes back into the picture and a big hit of oak, spice and vanilla.
An interesting dram and would appeal to the whisk(e)y drinkers in pursuit of stronger flavour. Those of you who read these posts will know I’m very much of a peaty persuasion and although there’s been no peat anywhere near this whiskey I really like it. Maybe it’s not quite as refined as the wheat whiskey before, but it’s got more guts and that ticks the boxes for me, whiskey you know you’re drinking.
So with only good words to say for both these drams what could possibly be the bad news??? Well unfortunately these whiskies are currently unavailable in the UK and unless you’re heading state side you’re going to struggle to find them. To make matters worse the Triticale hasn’t even made it to bottling yet and isn’t even available over there! So what’s the point talking about whiskey that no one here can get? Well this is the only the beginning of what will soon be an avalanche of craft distilling and in the next 5 years these kind of whiskies I believe will be more widely available. Anyone who made it along to one of our World Whisky tastings throughout September will have witnessed how new distillers all over the world are producing some really great whiskies. It’s very easy to pick up the same old whisk(e)y you know and no one would blame you for putting your money into trusty Scottish single malt. But don’t forget whisk(e)y is the most diverse spirit in the world, so why not have a change of pace and try something new. In my opinion it’s not about where and it’s not about age, it’s about quality of spirit and quality of wood. Dry Fly have got them both.