Bimber First Release – Mark’s Review
Colour: tawny. Remarkably good colour for this age.
On the nose: a sherry bomb, some might suggest, but it’s actually not as darkly rich: intense, yes, but lighter dried fruits such as apricots, sultanas, and then Seville orange marmalade. Mixed peel. Mince pies. Sour cherry and damsons; beeswax. Lots of sherry influence without a doubt, but there’s a real freshness, vibrancy about the spirit.
In the mouth: a hugely, thick texture – there’s a well-made spirit. Massive. Beautifully cloying with heavy dried fruits and a rush if tiramisu. This. Is. Gorgeous. A smidge of bitter dark chocolate, not at all woody or prickly. Headier dried fruits than the nose: figs, raisins; blackcurrant. Hedgerow jam. Cinnamon. Just a hint of mushroom earthiness, sourdough. But I want to come back to this texture, which is one of the nicest feeling spirits I have ever put in my mouth, if not the most complex (only five casks). Warming tobacco on the finish.
I had more than one sample of this sent to me. I’ll be honest, I drank one casually – as I feel that’s what most of you might do, rather than sitting at a keyboard having to think – and I was just bowled over. It was gorgeous; a gregarious, voluptuous companion for the evening. I had no intention of sending any of this to Jason – he prefers to wrap his lips around some dodgy old bourbon cask releases, or being a Daftmill local fanboy, and has no interest in flavoursome, active sherry cask maturation that has happened south of the border. This would be wasted on him. If I had a flaw it would be that, being an inaugural release they’ve clearly wanted to go out of the blocks with something potent; it would be very interesting to get a touch more of the spirit, to observe some DNA, to really find out who Bimber is. That, I suspect, comes with time.
Anyway, despite that, one of the best whiskies of the year for me and it’s a whipper-snapper. Three. Years. Old. And one of the best things you’ll put in your mouth this year. See what paying attention to the production process does? Making good spirit – before it goes in casks? And then having, y’know: fresh wood and not tired old shit? I feel for £120 or thereabouts, this is good value – because it’s the inaugural release, and many distilleries would be quite happy to take the p*ss for their first whiskies. It’s reasonably priced, to my mind, no faffy auctions to make spurious press releases, no eye-wateringly bad behaviour that we saw up at the Lakes.
Good lord. English whisky is looking triumphant right now.
Score: 8/10 (almost 9)
Colour: Bright new penny.
On the nose: Somewhere in darkest Derbyshire my editor will be sniffing this with peals of
pleasure. Just a beautiful, rounded, intense sherry nose, backed up by ripe, fruity spirit. Let
me count the layers of brown sugar, nutmeg, sultana, plum jam and leather.
In the mouth: The most gorgeously textured palate of any English whisky yet. Flavours are a
little more of distillate here – more tropical fruits, more strawberries – but slathered in rich,
dark chocolate. Raisins and a smatter of dunnage in behind, then another wave of chocolate
crashes over again. Alcohol is prominent, but not distractingly so.
I’ve not tasted a better debut English whisky. In fact, I can’t remember tasting a better debut whisky from anywhere.