Borders Distillery and Experimental Whisky

Borders distillery experimental series

Borders Distillery in Hawick was the first scotch whisky distillery to open in the Borders since 1837. The distillery received a planning permission back in 2015 and the first spirit run took place in March 2018. The distillery is in a beautifully restored Victorian industrial building. They’ve done an impressive job of preserving the historical buildings and its architectural features, and even won several awards for it.

As well as producing single malt (still resting in casks), the distillery has released a few blended whiskies, gin and vodka. Their single malt uses barley from 12 nearby farms. The water used at the distillery comes from a huge underground lake, which water has been naturally filtered through rock while it flows down from the hills above.  

Their latest limited-edition whisky release, The Long and Short of It, is the second release in the distiller’s experimental Workshop Series.

the long and short of it whisky
Credit: Borders Distillery

The latest release plays with time and as the name suggests, it is all about the length of the fermentation period, both long and short. One batch was fermented only for 55 hours and the second for 150 hours. Both batches were then distilled twice and put to rest in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels before being blended with single grain. The blend is chill-filtered and bottled at 40% ABV.

The promotional campaign for The Long and Short of It -release actively seeks to evoke a notion of enjoying your whisky, your way – be that long or short! 8400 bottles were releases for sale worldwide.

The first blend under the Workshop Series was Borders Malt & Rye. While the distillery’s single malt matures, Workshop Series allows the distilling team to use their creative skills.  

The long and short of it whisky by Borders Distillery
Borders distillery workshop series whisky

I was recently gifted a sample of the latest release, below my tasting notes.

Colour: Light yellow

Nose: A bit new makey and malty at first but becomes more pleasant with air. Mixed berry jam, fresh lingonberries, cranberries, tangy citrusy Haribos, subtle caramel sweetness

Palate: Strong cinnamon spice, tingly ginger, candied grapefruit, passionfruit, more Haribos, green gooseberries

Finish: Warming and wintery, feels like I’ve eaten a cinnamon bun, fairly long finish

On the first nosing, your typical fermentation/young whisky aromas were clearly present and it made me slightly worried. I was also convinced there was a hint of tequila notes, which in general can come from shorter fermentation. Patience is virtue, however, and the air once again worked its magic. The nose became sweeter with nice jammy notes. There was freshness in there too. The palate felt slightly stronger than 40%ABV.

Overall, a very sippable experiment, although I would probably be more likely to use this for Highballs and Hot Toddies. The cinnamon and ginger notes in the whisky really lends themselves to wintery drinks. I did finish my sample, which is always a positive sign.

If you order a bottle for Christmas, you’ll we receive two complimentary Borders Distillery nosing glasses.

Fancy jazzing up your Hot Toddy? Try these recipes from my previous blog post.

Borders Distillery portfolio also includes gin. Kerr’s Gin, 43% ABV, is named after William Kerr, a 19th century botanist from Hawick. The base spirit is distilled from barley grown within 35 miles from the distillery. The selected botanicals are steamed in the spirit vapours to capture even the most subtle aromas and flavours.

Their botanicals list include juniper, Angelica, Coriander, Liquorice, Citrus peel, Cassia and more. Serve it with a premium tonic water and a slice of orange.

This is one of my favourite vodkas and an absolute gem!

Puffing Billy Steam Vodka, 40% ABV, is the only vodka ever to be steamed through charcoal inside a still. It is never filtered as a liquid. This method allows the delicious character of the locally grown barley to shine.

The malted barley creates a creamy and silky vodka. The flavours that come through are mind-blowingly tasty. This vodka has a whole lot of flavour, such as coconut, roasted pineapple, over-ripe banana, chocolate and caramel. And a touch of spice at the finish.

Disclaimer: This post has been created in collaboration with Borders Distillery.

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