Abhainn Dearg


Abhainn Dearg distillery also known as "Red River" is located in Uig on The Outer Hebridean Isle of Lewis and is a small private distillery founded by Mark Tayburn.

The first spirit was produced in 2009 and as I write this in Autumn of 2010 there have so far been just a couple of releases of "new make" under the name "Spirit of Lewis".


In addition, two small (40 litre) casks have been sold, one to the German importer primarily for their visit to the Limburg whisky fayre and a second, called "Peacekeeper" to Glasgow's MacSorley's Bar where drams can be purchased directly from the cask.


General whisky characteristics: Fruit, spirit & BBQ fish (Steckerlfisch)


Distillery phtos with kind permission of  Alan Jamieson




Abhainn Dearg New Spirit, Cask Strength

MacSorley's original "Peacekeeper" mini cask


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Pale yellow

Nose: This initially comes across as a fruity spirit, rather like a German schnapps called obstler, but after less than a minute a very slight smokiness enhances the aromas. The smokiness is once again (see below) almost fishy, but not as pronounced as in the SoL bottling.

Palate: Smooth and fruity in a slightly spirity kind of way, well it is CS. I would say the initial smooth burst of fruit is peach with perhaps a hint of passion fruit. A slight pepperiness then accompanies the palate into the finish, along with a gentle hint of smoke and very slight 'steckerlfish', which is a German speciality of BBQ'ed fish, served in beer gardens.

With 4 drops of water: More smoky fruit is brought to the nose and also to the palate with added pepper, which I would say is a combination of red, green and black peppercorns.

With 4 more drops of water: More intense fruit with that slight suggestion of smoky BBQ fish also a little more pronounced.

Finish: Long, very long, even longer with water. Peppery fruit.

Overall Impression: Definitely less 'fishy' than the SoL bottling which I personally found a little disappointing. This shows slightly more maturity which I would attribute to the small (40 litre) cask. This one is also sligthly more concentrated on the fruit and less on the smoky fish, which can only be a good thing. I'm still looking forward to trying Abhainn Dearg when it matures to the status of 'whisky'!



Spirit of Lewis New Spirit, Cask 03/2010, 40% ABV

Distilled 10th  Feb. 2010, bottled 22nd March 2010, one of 1000 bottles

Typical cost of this bottle;

(bottle photo courtesy of WallieTheFrog)


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Almost bronze, rich gold

Nose: Very spirity and fruity, in fact it is rather like a popular German Schnapps called Obstler which is made primarily from pears, but also includes apple and some berries. There's also a hint of BBQ'ed smoked fish in here too. It's defintiely fruity, outdoor and slightly smoky in a fishy BBQ way.

Palate: The palate is definitely lighter than the nose, but pretty well the same elements are present. Initially fruity, then as the palate grows it includes a hint of smoke, BBQ, and Atlantic jetty. The more I think about this, the more I am reminded of a stay with some friends in Lisbon (Portugal) some years ago when we spent an evening at a park full of open air restaurants where the food was being grilled (BBQ) and comprised mainly chicken and locally caught fish. As for the fruit, it's mainly red berries and peach with a hint of pear.

Finish: Medium with hints of that smoky fish and turning dry.

Overall Impression: A very strange, or different new spirit here. It's the 40% Spirit of Lewis bottling and the over-riding emphasis is defintely one of BBQ'ed smoked fish and fruit. I'll be interested to see how this matures with time in the cask.









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