Following a decade of planning and many moons in the barrels, the very first expressions of Dartmoor Whisky have now been released, making a truly special Christmas gift for any fan of single malt. Distilled and aged in the West Country’s first ever whisky distillery, sat at the gateway to Dartmoor within Bovey Tracey’s former Town Hall, this whisky is firmly rooted in the windswept moors that give it its name.
Overseeing every stage of the process, founders Greg Millar and Simon Crow work closely with a local producer to select the very best seeds for their barley, before the crop is grown and harvested at Preston Farm on Dartmoor. The barley is malted at Britain’s oldest working maltings, Warminster Maltings, one of only a handful of traditional malting houses left in England, and the beer wash is brewed by local cask ale producers, according to a recipe specified by Dartmoor Whisky’s Master Distiller, Frank McHardy.
Every fine whisky needs a fine copper still and at Dartmoor Whisky, a refurbished Alembic Cognac still sits proudly at the end of the Grade II listed hall. The 1,200 litre hand-beaten still has a more bulbous head than typical whisky stills, and this, along with its swan-shaped neck and additional central copper heat recovery vessel, contributes greatly to the sweet and smooth flavour profile that has become synonymous with Dartmoor Whisky. Following two distillations, the first taking the beer wash from 9% to 25% ABV and the second producing the finished ‘water of life’ at 70% ABV, the spirit is then transferred to the barrels for the maturation process to begin.
Using three barrel types to give different expressions to its first release casks, Dartmoor Whisky is aged in American oak Bourbon barrels, French oak wine barrels and the highly prized Spanish sherry barrels, before being cut with pure Dartmoor Spring Water, filtered through granite for 200 years before it reaches the water table below ground.
The light golden Bourbon Cask Whisky has notes of toffee, crème brûlée and marshmallow, with a long and honeyed finish, while the Bordeaux casks have imparted a warm red-brown hue, delivering wine gums, coconut and chocolate on the palate. The full-bodied and rich Sherry Cask Whisky has a flavour profile balancing sweet sherry, hazelnut, coconut, marzipan and sultanas, followed by hints of gingerbread and treacle playing out on a long, smooth and sweet finish.
All three expressions of Dartmoor Whisky, including first release casks, are now available to order from dartmoorwhiskydistillery.co.uk, with 70cl bottles starting from £59.50 with free delivery.