Bimber Distillery is a quite recent distillery operating from London, England. Founded in 2015, they buy their two-row malted barley (Concerto and Laureate) from a single farm near Hampshire and have it malted by Warminster Maltings. Then, they distill their spirit with two direct-fire small copper pot-stills made by a Spanish company, Hoga: a 1000 litre wash still, called Doris, and a 600 litre spirit still called Astraeus. Distillation of whisky began in May 2016, and the first casks filled on the 26th of May, 2015 have now reached 3 years of age. Quite a journey since the distilling of moonshine in Poland by the grandfather of the master-distiller of Bimber Distillery, Darius Plazewski. And by the way, the translation for “moonshine” in Polish is… “Bimber”.
A Tweet Tasting?
Thanks to Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire and Bimber Distillery, I was selected for a Tweet Tasting on the 21st of August, including 6 samples: two new makes, one unpeated and the other one peated, and 4 samples from different casks, all 3 years of age. You can buy the same tasting pack we received from the distillery’s online shop for £38. Since on the date of the tweet tasting I was on vacation at Ainulindalë’s flat near Paris, we both participated to this online tasting, the samples being really large enough for two people, even as thirsty as the authors of this humble blog. I insist on the fact it was provided free of charge by Bimber Distillery, but that we try to stay true to our feelings, the whisky being provided by the distillery or bought with our own money.
Here follows both our notes, with some ad-hoc tweaks we had to do. Anybody who goes through a Tweet Tasting will realise how fast paced it can be when you’re talking to each other. So naturally, we came to realise we forgot to write down some things (including in some case the finishes). Not that it was required from us, but it’s our standard methodology. Apologies for this small change in the way we intend to do things.
Additionally, as these were provided by Bimber to have a taste of them, we decided against grading them as it’s more about the promise of a final product than an actual product. The grades would have been good, but in our collective opinion they could be better for the actual final product. So bear with us!
New make, unpeated, batch 145, 60% abv
As expected from new make, it’s colorless.
Coldorak: Neat, the nose is malty, with lactic acid, tropical fruits and pear brandy. With water, I find it more difficult here to identify smells.
Ainulindalë: Lactic, almost yogurty over malt and hay. Hint of raspberry and pear
Coldorak: Malty again, really new make-y (obviously), with notes of apple, and we can retrieve the pear brandy from the nose. The 60% go down without problem, no big alcohol bite. With water, the pear brandy is really brought forward. The finish is short with a little tingling on the tongue, on pear.
Ainulindalë: Malt and hay all again, reminding me of when I helped my grandfather pack the hay back into the grange… but then raspberry or mirabelle liqueur all over.
Adding a splash of water to the New Make tones down the hay and brings the fruit forward, driving it to a sweeter taste. I wish more distilleries fermented that long – esters are great!
Coldorak: This new make is really well drinkable, clean and rounded.
Ainulindalë: I’m surprised with how creamy it was (as in yogurt, cream) and not as alcoholic as I’d expect.
Ex-Bourbon Cask, test batch 001, 3 years-old, 51.2% abv
Color is Sauternes.
Coldorak: Crème brûlée at first, then some peach, and more vanilla and caramel. Maybe a touch of cinnamon.
Ainulindalë: Vanilla and caramel hand in hand, verging on crème brûlée, very fresh! Behind all that, still fruity, but a bit more stone fruits (peach?) and coconut, over oak. Quite subtle for a whisky that young
Coldorak: Salted caramel spread over toasted bread, with a glass of apple juice. Should be a perfect breakfast. Lovely creamy mouthfeel. Some oak on the finish.
Ainulindalë: Again on the vanilla with sweet caramel, reminds me of these ice creams with salted caramel. Some peach and banana on the background layered over oak, all in a smooth balance, finishing on coconut. Very rye-esque in its barrel expression.
Coldorak: A really good young dram, with spices but not overpowering.
Ainulindalë: Surprisingly close to a rye in its earthy/spicy expression. I liked the saltiness of it.
Ex-Sherry Cask, test batch 001, 3 years-old, 51.9% abv
Color is Amontillado.
Coldorak: Very malty, with wet hay, candied fruits, strawberry jam, a light touch of cinnamon and maybe some treacle?
Ainulindalë: Cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, again a background of salted caramel and dried fruits, raisins, figs, plums. Not a sherry-monster, quite more subtle. Can’t wait for the palate!
Coldorak: Really creamy, candied fruits from the nose, a touch of leather, raisins, and cinnamon, as well as some wanuts. Really good one. The finish is spicy with a touch of fruits, slightly drying on the tongue and warming on the throat.
Ainulindalë: Hay first, soft and nice, followed by the typical wave of sherry spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. and some walnutty background. Finishes quite gently on dark chocolate and caramel with still this saltiness. Again quite a good and subtle blend.
Coldorak: Once again a good dram, with strong spices, but with maybe a bit too much bitterness in the end.
Ainulindalë: Loved the mix between the traditional spices of a sherried whisky with this smooth saltiness.
Re-Charred Cask, test batch 001, 3 years-old, 51.9% abv
Color is Eiswein.
Coldorak: Apricot, banana, peach, some cinnamon again, vanilla and honey and a pinch of pepper.
Ainulindalë: Right out of the bat, banana, banana, banana! Followed closely with vanilla. Then some sort of nutty thing can be experienced along with figs, mango and a hint of pineapple. Again, very fresh!
Coldorak: Banana bread immediately, then some cinnamon and nutmeg. Palate is more woody than the previous drams, you can taste the difference with the others. Getting some bitterness and leather too, maybe even cigar tobacco.
Ainulindalë: Immediately again, banana bread. Then a circus of tropical fruits, pineapple, mango, some apricot jam too. To me, this is as of now the one where the New Make character can be felt the most (w.r.t. the fruity aspects of it)
Coldorak: This very young whisky is already excellent, my favourite of the tasting. Can’t wait to taste it again after a few more years in the cask!
Ainulindalë: It’s surprising how Coldorak & I agreed on this one. Clearly my preferred too for its very fruity character and something my tastes are going towards these days. Very original and interesting.
Virgin Oak Cask, test batch 001, 3 years-old, 53.1% abv
This one was charred to level #4, known as ‘Crocodile toast’ as the char looks like the skin of a crocodile. Color is Sercial Madeira.
Coldorak: Vanilla and caramel immediately, spices with ginger and cinnamon, leather again. Obviously strong influence from the cask since it’s virgin oak.
Ainulindalë: Very spicy – cinnamon and ginger. Almost sherry-like if it wasn’t for the vanilla, and then yet again this banana. Strong alcohol smell though! As of now it’s the richest nose of them all.
Coldorak: Very sweet, banana again, cinnamon, pepper and ginger, lots of salted caramel, and candied fruits. The finish is lightly bitter, warm, on vanilla and caramel
Ainulindalë: Quite sweet! At first – again some banana bread and its cinnamony goodness. Vanilla too! But then enters the alcohol heat delivering apricot and peach, and a hint of maple syrup. The wood underneath is quite smooth and builds up to a good backbone.
Coldorak: A good one too, but careful with virgin oak as it can quickly overpower the spirit.
Ainulindalë: Not my prefered – a bit too sweet and alcoholic to the nose. It had good qualities, but my heart is set elsewhere!
Peated New Make, Batch 140, 60% abv
Coldorak: Neat, I find lots of Juniper, with maritime scents, iode, seaweed, as well as something sugary. The peat is delicate and not overpowering. With water, juniper and smoke get stronger.
Ainulindalë: Juniper quite immediately. Some hint of seaweed and some mint at the end of it. On the background some star anise. Quite a smooth peat to me.
Coldorak: Neat, the palate is very malty obviously, touch of smoke but as for the nose, it’s not overpowering. Tastes almost like a gin with juniper being so present. Some aniseed? Mouthfeel gets oily over time, nice! With water, it gets sweeter and spicier. The finish is medium long, on smoked malt and wood.
Ainulindalë: The palate is quite a thing! Juniper and banana again, very sweet and minty, and this light campfire smoke, subtle yet present, ending in saltiness. It’s like a gin past the tent planted over a chiseled rock by the sea. With water, the peat gets more to a grilled meat pleasant smell , and the junipers gets stronger. Oddly enough the water brings out tropical fruits notes. Quite yummy!
Coldorak: Really good new make, that I’d want to taste once it has spent a few years in all the kinds of casks we tasted earlier but that were filled with unpeated new make. Great potential.
Ainulindalë: Interesting mix between the saltiness I’ve come to appreciate with this Bimber samples, along with their fruitiness, and the underlying medicinal or juniperish peat.
This was a really great evening in company of Steve, the Bimber team and many friends from Twitter. If you want to participate in those Tweet Tastings events, you’ll need to follow Steve Rush, his dedicated Tweet Tastings account and pay attention to their timelines. Quite often (and repetitively as he doesn’t want you to miss your chance) Steve will announce a new dramspankly (©Steve Rush) Tweet Tasting. Then follow the link to his website thewhiskywire.com for instructions to register your interest, and hope you’ll be selected!