Back at the end of August, I had the opportunity to meet a rather charming and enthusiastic chap named Alasdair Day at the Pure Festival in London, which I wrote about here.
I was very intrigued to meet Alasdair because he has a rather lovely story about rediscovering his great grandfather’s exploits in whisky making from over 70 years ago.
As the story goes, from about 1895 Richard Day worked at a licensed grocers owned by J & A Davidson in Coldstream (near the Scottish/English borders) which made the Tweeddale Blend (as many grocers did at the time). He took it over and continued to blend the whisky up until the start of the Second World War, when production ceased.
However, this was not to be the finale after all. Alasdair inherited Richard’s “Cellar Book” which contained the accounts for the old store and the original recipe for the blend. So, rather than allow this chapter to close on the Tweeddale Blend, he decided instead to recreate it: seven decades after it disappeared. In 2009, he formed Stonedean Ltd which is the company that produces the spirit.
Recently, Alasdair very kindly sent me a sample of the Tweeddale Blend, Batch 2 – a 12-year-old, 46% non-chill filtered, half grain, half malt whisky. The single grain half is 15-years-old and originates from a sherry butt, while the malts come from eight different casks and range from 12 to 21 years of age.
As this was released in June, many of you may have given it a go. But if you have not had the chance yet, here are my thoughts on the latest addition to this great little company steeped in history.
On first nosing, I get hit with an overwhelming and complex mix of scents. There’s a hint of lemon, a subtle burst of sea salt and a slight butteriness. As I breathe more deeply, I pick up a touch of pineapple and burnt sugar. Those sweeter scents really bounce off of the back of my throat, saturating it sweetly. It’s very satisfying and welcoming; like a smiling friend, opening the door to let me into their warm house on a cold winter day.
Moving to the taste, as I swirl it around in my mouth, I get hints of honey, yeast, ginger, chamomile and, just at the end, an edge of peaty smoke and raisins. It lasts for a long stretch, with the smoke holding strong a while after I swallow. And (oddly, I know, I know) I get a slight touch of raw carrot fresh from the garden (never thought you’d see that in a review did you?) in the middle of my palate a little while after it’s settled.
As I go back for a second taster, I notice ever more the stark difference between the more sacchrine beginning and the tougher finish. It really fills the mouth but manages to stay very smooth, even when I hold it for a few seconds in my mouth.
I have to say, this is unlike most whiskies I have tried of late. It doesn’t fight back, but it holds its ground, and I love the gentle peatiness that sneaks up at the last second.
All in all, a quality blend: and I’m very glad, indeed, that Mr Day continued the family tradition and revived this truly lovely whisky.