Frank’s Visit to Dartmoor Whisky Distillery
On Wednesday 7th February, one year after our first distillation, we welcomed back our Master Distiller Frank McHardy to sample our spirit so far. It was an honour to have him join us for the momentous occasion of reviewing the progress of the whisky maturation, one year in. Frank had three objectives for his time here; to review our processes, to assess the spirit after one year's maturation in the casks, and to assess the spirit production. Excitingly, Frank also carried out a distillation himself here at the distillery using our still, read more about the Frank McHardy distillation here.
Our Still ‘Mariannick’
Day one saw Frank and the team begin with the first distillation of the beer wash to produce the “low wines” of the Frank McHardy distillation. As part of Frank’s review, he inspected the inside of the still to make sure it was maintained at its optimum condition. One year into full-time whisky production, Frank was very happy with our still, Mariannick and very pleased with quality of the spirit it is producing.
The following day saw us clean out the still ready for the spirit run for the next day. From our tests, we knew from the start that our still produced a very smooth, sweet spirit, and we knew that the size of the still, and the bulbous head creating a high degree of reflux contributed to this. Something new we did learn, was that the slow rate at which our still operates is significantly contributing to the smooth nature of our new spirit.
Casks & Maturation
Spirit must be in a cask for three years and a day before it can officially be called ‘whisky’. When our whisky is first distilled it starts as a clear spirit, which slowly turns to the golden colours we know as it draws flavour and colour out from the cask itself.
Here at Dartmoor Whisky, we used three different casks for our First Distillations: Spanish Sherry, French Bordeaux and American Bourbon. Each barrel gives a different expression to the finished spirit. Some will be bottled from a single barrel type, some will be bottled according to our Master distiller, Frank’s selection of barrels.
The Spirit So Far
During Frank’s visit, he tested our spirit from the first distillations, to give us an idea of progress so far and flavour notes from the different casks.
Flavour Notes by Frank McHardy:
Cask 2 Spanish Sherry - Filled 16.2.17
The spirit has already taken on a rich golden colour from the sherry cask, and distinctive sherry aromas. Frank identified rich, fruity notes. Initially, a lot of sweetness comes through on the pallet, then, hazelnut, coconut, marzipan and sultanas come through. There are hints of gingerbread and treacle. Already the spirit has a long finish on the pallet.
Cask 4 French Bordeaux - Filled 21.2.17
This cask had previously held cabernet sauvignon wine, and so naturally the spirit has developed a warm red hue. On the nose, Frank immediately detects soft fruit, blackcurrant aromas. To the pallet, there are wine gum flavours, and a hint of coconut and chocolate. It is a sweet floral expression.
Cask 5 American Bourbon - Filled 24.2.17
Here the spirit has taken on typical golden colour from the bourbon cask. On the nose, there are vanilla aromas as you would expect from a bourbon cask. There are toffee notes on the pallet, and Crème Brulee, and marshmallow. It is very sweet to the taste, almost honeyed.
You can still reserve a bottle from the French Bordeaux Casks, or the American Bourbon Casks, if you have not already. We will be sure to keep you informed of their progress when Frank samples them after two years!
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Greg, Frank & Simon at Bowerman’s Nose, Dartmoor on the one year anniversary of the First Distillation