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Isle of Raasay


11 July 2023

Isle of Raasay



R&B Distillers co-founder Alasdair Day had intended to build his first distillery in the Scottish Borders, near to where his great-grandfather, Richard Day, blended whisky in a grocer’s shop.

The original business was established in 1820 and Alastair's great-grandfather joined it in 1895. Alastair inherited the family cellar book from his father, and as well as all the sales records for 1820 and 1821, at the back of the book there is a record of all the blends produced by the company from 1899 to 1916.

In 2009 he decided to recreate one of the blends from the book, and the following year released 'The Tweeddale'.

There have now been quite a few Tweeddale releases, which is why Alastair and his business partner, Bill Dobbie, were in need of a plant to supply malt whisky for their Tweeddale blend.

It was a recommendation from a friend that led the duo to consider the Hebridean island of Raasay for their first project. The island not only represented a prime opportunity in terms of location, but never before had Raasay been home to a legal whisky distillery.

The company secured the vacant Borodale House in 2015, a Victorian building most recently used as a hotel which has since been renovated into a distillery, visitor centre and luxury overnight accommodation.

The distillery’s first test mashing and distillation runs were conducted in September 2017, with the first casks being filled in October 2017.

In anticipation of the distillery’s first whisky in 2020, R&B created Raasay While We Wait in 2015, a peated Highland single malt that’s reflective of the spirit Raasay distillery will soon produce.The style of spirit produced at Isle of Raasay is guided by a long fermentation and plenty of copper contact. The latter is achieved by way of a cooling jacket on the wash still lyne arm and an inclined lyne arm on the spirit still, which will result in a clean, fruity character with an element of smoke imparted by the lightly peated malt.

R&B Distillers intends to make full use of maturation in first-fill American oak, European oak and Tuscan red wine casks – a nod to the origins of Raasay’s stills.

Isle of Raasay’s signature whisky may be a fruity, sweet and lightly peated malt – as seen in its pre-emptive release, Raasay While We Wait – but the distillery’s configuration has been created to allow for experimentation with fermentation and distillation. Therefore we can expect to see a variety of styles from this small island distillery.

Every drop of spirit is distilled, matured, and bottled on the island, using water from their well, Tobar na Ba Bàine, ‘Well of the Pale Cow’. 

That long fermentation of up to 118 hours (5 days) develops sweet blackberry characteristics in the spirit before it even touches the oak of the casks.

The distillery produces both peated and un-peated spirit, which are matured separately in ex-rye whiskey, virgin Chinkapin oak (a type of American white oak) and first fill Bordeaux red wine casks. This results in six types of finished whisky that can be blended together to form Isle of Raasay single malt. Each release offers a different ratio in the blend and the distillery divulges all of details on their website. The release that we are featuring (R-01.2) is detailed below:

  • Release Date: September 2022
  • ABV: 46.4%
  • Peat Level: Barley 48-52ppm | Residual in Bottle 7 ppm
  • Presentation: Natural colour, non-chill filtered
  • Cask Types: First fill ex-Rye Whiskey (63%), virgin Chinkapin oak (26%), and first fill Bordeaux red wine (11%)
  • Spirit Types: Isle of Raasay peated & unpeated spirit
  • Barley Variety: Concerto & Laureate
  • Yeast Type: Distillers’ Yeast
  • Water Source: Isle of Raasay Distillery 60 metre well on site – Tobar na Bà Baine
  • Fermentation Time: 3 and 5 day fermentations
  • Spirit Cut Point: 75 to 67 (unpeated) & 75 to 65 (peated)
  • Cask Filling Strength: 63.5% abv
  • Distilled: 15/06/2018 – 25/04/2019
  • Vatting: 23/08/2022 – 09/09/2022
  • Bottling: 15/09/2022 – 10/10/2022
  • Maturation & Bottling: Isle of Raasay Distillery