Spey 12yo (40%, OB, Selected Edition, Virgin Oak Finish, 8.000 bottles)

When the Speyside distillery was sold to Harvey’s of Edinburgh in 2012, the new owner changed the name of the Whisky to “Spey” and by 2014 released three new versions: Tenné, this 12yo and finally a 18yo. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the Tenné. Let’s see if this 12yo is any better. The Tenné is a rather young Whisky, finished in Port pipes. The 12yo is…well, 12 years old and was given a finish in new wood. Strange enough this older Whisky was given a lower ABV than it’s younger sister Tenné. 40% ABV compared to 46% ABV. For me that is usually not a good way to start…

Spey 12yo (40%, OB, Selected Edition, Virgin Oak Finish, 8.000 bottles)Color: White wine, much less color than pictured here.

Nose: Fresh, citrussy with hints of smoke (probably from toasted wood). Fresh oak and toasted fresh oak. Clean but also a dirty edge to it. Mocha and milk chocolate. Powdered sugar. Maybe simple but well-balanced. Leafy and dry grass. No off notes whatsoever. Shows a lot of potential, but, it’s already 12yo and it smells much younger. Young but without the typical smell or even hints of new make spirit. Hints of pencil. Not only shavings of the wood, but the whole pencil with the painted wood and the lead. Very interesting and surprising compared to the Tenné. Seems to let aroma’s pass in layers.

Taste: Sweet and barley. Sugary sweetness, which matches the powdered sugar from the nose. Malted barley. These two notes make up the taste. Again this seems very young without even hinting at new make spirit. (I recently reviewed The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, thát has the notes of new make spirit). Clean and grainy spirit. Sweet and vegetal. Has some staying power. Virgin oak and tree sap, reminiscent of ripping a branch of a shrub or tree. Although low in ABV, this Whisky doesn’t seem to suffer from it. Hints of sweet apple juice, freshly pressed at home, and a flowery note, Jasmin.

I can’t put my finger on it, but I like this. The sugar levels are just in check. It is no high-flying Whisky, but it has some lovely aroma’s to it. This time, I won’t even ramble on about the low ABV. This does nicely at 40%. Fruity and likeable. Surprising stuff. Who would have thought this about a Whisky from a young distillery, which found it necessary to finish its aged Whisky in new oak. Interesting. Almost ten points more than the younger offering called Tenné.

Points: 82

Spey Tenné (46%, OB, Selected Edition, Tawny Port Cask Finish, 18.000 bottles)

The Speyside distillery was officially founded in 1976 by George Christie. Distillation was in George’s blood since he used to be a… submarine captain, who probably missed the sound of trickling liquids. Building of the distillery commenced already in 1962 and was finished in 1987. Lots of the building was done by George himself, so it took him a while. We have to wait a further three years for the first distillation. (December 1990), The spirit has to age for at least three years to be called a Whisky, so in 1993 the first Whisky was released under the name “Drumguish”, from the name of the place the distillery was built. In 1999 the first Single Malt was released under the “Speyside” name, an 8yo. In 2012 the distillery which already changed hands a few times was sold to one of its clients. Harvey’s of Edinburgh. Harvey’s again changed the name of their Single Malt, calling it simply “Spey”. In 2014 the new range was released, starting with this Tenné, but also a 12yo and a 18yo were released.

Spey TennéColor: Salmon, like a modern rosé wine from the south of France.

Nose: Extremely malty. It’s like holding the grain in your hand. This smell makes up most of the beginning of the nose. Given some time the Port starts to “work”. Initially a more glue like sensation which turns into an overly fruity and acidic distilled Port that is used to fortify Port. With even some more breathing, a hint of sweetness and wine gums come to the fore, combined with some rural or farmy notes. After that it tones down and gets more powdery with even a tiny hint of gunpowder. Stale beer in the finish but also some vanilla. Wine finishes can be pretty funky.

Taste: Pretty sweet, bitter oak and again malty. It comes in layers and in that particular order. First a very friendly sweet candy like aroma, when that moves over, the roof of your mouth gets a bitter sap attack which evolves into a slightly toasted and oaky taste, mixed with sandalwood, (the Port probably did that), and licorice. Intertwined is the taste of malts. On top, a slightly acidic and fruity note, but that’s it actually, not a lot more is happening. The ABV of 46% gives it some strength and some hotness for the finish.

This expression is said to be a minimum of 8 years old. It is an extremely malty and pretty simple Whisky. For me, the Port finish didn’t bring a lot of complexity to the mix. Just giving it a shift in profile. Malty and simple, not bad, but also nothing to get overly exited about. Anonymous at best, except for the bottle itself. Looks very luxurious with its beautiful tartan ribbon.

Having said all that, it’s a lovely distillery and I hope they will get better with every release.

Points: 73