Abhainn Dearg 3yo review


Abhainn Dearg 3 year old tasted

I have always quite liked the sentiment “quality never goes out of fashion”. I took this to mean that if something is well made, it will sell strongly. It doesn’t matter about marketing, fashion, global presence and synergy; it will all fall into place. I like the sentiment, but I don’t think it really works anymore. Sadly, I think that quality only takes you up to a certain point without marketing. There are exceptions though. If you run a small deli for instance; then passing trade, excellent service, good food and word of mouth may be enough. If you design suits; classic quality never ever goes out of fashion, or if it does, not for long. In the cut throat world of spirits and the ultra-competitive world of Scotch whisky, I think this is not the case. It is how your brand is marketed, how many people are aware of it and how it is perceived that is going to get people to try your whisky. Just having good whisky is half the battle. A very important half, but still it is just half.

Lucas wrote about Abhainn Dearg here. In this article, he admitted to a couple of their decisions on the marketing, distribution and pricing front causing him to scratch his head in bemusement. It’s always worth listening to constructive criticism, and I hope that is the way the folks at Abhainn Dearg saw it.

But let’s forget about that for a moment and get to the other half of the battle; the whisky. Is it any good?

Abhainn Dearg 3yo
Special Release 2011 (50cl)
Ex-bourbon casks
46% ABV unchill-filtered
£149.99 from here

Nose: Malted barley, corn, grist. Burnt wood. Spicy and slightly honeyed. An interesting nose that really shows a house style and a new spirit feel. Real biscuitiness, graininess and maltiness. It shows off that it is a whisky that hasn’t had too much cask influence. Or maybe I should say the cask hasn’t overpowered it. Once it had warmed up, green apples, vanilla and grapefruit.

Palate: Cereal notes, honey and spice. Quite a light taste, but with an oily mouth coating texture. Very easy drinking for a 3 year old spirit.

Finish: Burnt toast and brown sugar.

Overall: Still got some new spirit notes and a real strong maltiness. Quite easy to drink, but I think if I was blindfolded, I could tell it was this. An unmistakable house style. I enjoyed it. It shows definite progress from their earlier spirit releases.

But, and there always has to be a but. I have to go back to the point Lucas made about price. Sorry to repeat what he has said, but when I am reviewing a whisky, price is a key factor. The price at £149.99 stunned me. At 3 years old, that is a lot of cash. It may be nice, and I admire them for setting up a distillery, but how much? Perhaps worth it for the collectors. But definitely not worth it to the drinkers. As I said in my review, very palatable for a 3 year old, but £150 quid buys many bottles of whisky.

Hopefully after this commemorative release, the price will go down. I really want them to do well and the only way I can see that happenining is if the price becomes more reasonable. Then more people will taste it and enjoy it. From that, success will grow.


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