An ambiguous name with an almost absent electronic footprint- nothing more than scanty bits of information spread across the vast expanses of the web. Their official website also seems pretty mum and mute, giving references but nothing specific. And with every passing mouse click information gets all the more muddled and blurred, a certain enigma created perhaps to keep the half truths (or lies) alive.
This River Spey expression is a vatted malt void of any age statement, but is available in other avatars – 8, 12 and 18 years. A produce of ‘Quality Spirits International’, a subsidiary of William Grant and Sons, this whisky is named after the heart that brings life to the region and a source of livelihood to many of its people – the River Spey.
The establishment does not appear to distill or produce their own whisky and I could be wrong here, but it seems to be more of a blending and bottling front using produce from the William Grant distilleries. The bottle does in fact share an uncanny resemblance to the Monkey Shoulder minus the tri-primate emblem placed diagonally at the top half of the bottle. The contents of this particular expression are a blend of Speyside whiskies matured in traditional American first fill casks and then finished in ex-bourbon barrel.
Eye: Deep Gold; artificially colored, chill filtered.
Nose : Subtle hints of malt, sweet vanilla and a drizzle of honey, accompanied by the earthiness of sun-dried tomatoes, brine and wood. Orange peels, melons and milk chocolate crumbles, mild spice and green pepper.
Taste: Honey with the sweet and buttery goodness of vanilla cookies. Damp wood with some winey influence, orange citrus and spice.
Finish: Medium; Sweet and woody with a mild spice.
The River Spey is far from a star but warrants to be a crowd pleaser with its fairly average flavour profile. I didn’t have a lot of expectations coming into the review, but for the price ($51 AUD) it surely is worth considering! And let’s not sideline this little unknown – this particular expression has garnered a few accolades back in 2015*! Now, it might not hit high scores for depth and complexity but its standout honey sweetness and citrus zest can be a good alternative for those bottom shelf single malts.
*IWSC – Silver and Int’l Spirits Challenge – Bronze