Today, we're looking at North Point Distillery and sampling their new make spirit, Dalclagie.
Located in the rugged landscape of Caithness, Scotland, North Point Distillery was founded by Struan Mackie and Alex MacDonald. Initially focusing on the production of rum and gin, the distillery has now expanded its repertoire to include the creation of whisky.
Central to the distillery's operation is the use of Maris Otter barley, selected for its superior quality in brewing and distilling. The barley is initially mixed with hot water at 63.5°C to enable the natural enzymes to break down starch into fermentable sugars. A second mashing at 74°C ensures maximum sugar extraction. This mashing process produces 2000L of wort.
Eschewing the common practice of using generic distiller’s yeast, the distillery opts for brewer’s yeast, specifically the Norwegian farmhouse strain known as Kveik. The distillery conducts fermentation for a minimum of 7 days, and this results in a wash with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of around 9%.
The distillery's Head Distiller, Greg Benson, oversees the distillation process. This occurs in there two whisky stills, Nettie and Gertie. The resulting spirit is currently maturing in two types of casks: Heaven Hill Bourbon and Palo Cortado sherry casks.
Dalclagie new make
The nose has the classic yeast and bread dough aromas, alongside soft butter, peanut shells and light peach. It’s quite sweet and very soft overall, with stone fruits, mellow citrus and a little candy cane sugar coming through at the end. The longer fermentation gives it some tropical fruits too, pineapple and mango predominantly, however it’s not as tropical as other spirits with this fermentation length.
The palate is expectedly spicy up front, lots of freshly ground black peppercorns that linger on the finish. There’s a good mouthfeel here, quite oily, moving into lemonade, shortbread-like flavour and barley sugars. We’re also finding soft aniseed, caraway, and citrus pith. As the palate develops, we’re also finding some white chocolate and butterscotch notes too.
Nose (with water)
Adding water to the spirit mellows some of the upfront raw breadiness, changing the raw dough into something baked, buttery pastry perhaps. We’re not getting as much fruit as before which is a pity, but it’s also not as fiery, although we do detect a touch of cinnamon spice. The fruit we do get tend towards baked apples, pears and hint of soft blackberry.
Palate (with water)
The reduced palate has less pepper upfront, it’s more of a white pepper tinge now. The mouthfeel is a touch less creamy, but that’s to be expected. There’s warm fudge and light toffee notes coming through now.
This is an interesting new make, we were expecting the long fermentation to bring out a lot more fruit rather than the breadier, biscuitier flavours we’re getting. It’s also quite oily and buttery which is helps beef up the spirit somewhat. We expect this to be a whisky that needs a fair few years of age to shine, rather than some of the newer distilleries that are designed to be drunk young. Saying that we have a sneaky suspicion that the wait will be worth it. As this isn’t a “whisky” by law, we feel it unfair to give it a rating.
- 10 - Perfection. One in a million
- 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
- 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
- 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
- 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
- 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
- 4 - Below average. Passable.
- 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
- 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
- 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.