Dear friends, followers and supporters alike! Today I bring you my review of and thoughts on a soon to be released whisky from Hven Distillery called St Raphael, the first release in their new series called Seven Angels. The recipe for this whisky goes like this: in 2010 new make made from unpeated malt was filled into a total of six casks out of which five are french oak casks from Allier that have previously matured Italian wine; two Cabernet Sauvignon casks, two Merlot casks and one cask that matured a sweet wine made from the grape variety Vespaiola. The sixth cask in the mix was an american oak cask that previously matured Vodka from Hven Distillery. The whisky was bottled at (watered to) 40,9% ABV.
All in all the six casks gave 2302 (50cl) bottles out of which 1600 will be available at the swedish state monopoly this tuesday (16th of March). The product can be viewed by clicking here. Ok folks, let's do some reviewing!
When taking the screwcap from the bottle and pouring the whisky into my glass, there are instant whiffs of crispy citrus flying by alongside the red candy in bassetts wine gum. Nosing lightly into the glass I find very smooth and elegant scents of even more citrus now intermingling with homemade blackcurrant juice. Shaking the glass vividly and nosing properly there are more rich, deep, and full-bodied scents coming through; in the first layer there is elderflower, dryness as if coming from blackcurrant leaves, and licorice. In the second layer there is dark and rich vanilla with hints of overripe banana, tobacco (sweet cigarillos), and chocolate fudge. The low ABV makes this whisky easy to nose and at the same time it seems to both let through and support the scents in the bottom layer.
Well folks, it’s sweetness and dryness at the same time! The sweetness is a bit sugar-y and definitely has both an elderflower and a sweet licorice feel to it, almost sweet and ”sour” actually. The dryness consists of medium heavy tannins, a spicyness that I just can’t seem to pin down, lemon peel bitterness, and almond paste that somehow seems a bit ”angry”, ”agressive” or maybe fire-y. When the dryness and the spicyness has calmed down and the aftertaste enters there is first a fast peak of elderflower coming through, then a tad of rubber, and finally it ends very quickly indeed on vanilla with elements of citrus fruit seeds, chocolate, and a whiff of coffee beans.
Some reflections to sum up:
The best thing about this whisky is the nose, It’s both intriguing and interesting and there are elements and layers that can easily entertain you for half an hour. Also, the ABV, albeit low, really does carry the nose and those beautiful scents in the second layer. The taste however is all in all a bit to fast for me. Also, in my taste the dryness is too much in focus and when the aftertaste enters the whisky fades out too fast and ends on tasting just… plain and simple good whisky. For the sake of the taste (and aftertaste) I would have wanted a higher ABV, but I can guess that at the blending stage that option was probably opted out since it would have resulted in even more dryness and tannins. Summing up: this is not a bad whisky, it’s just not as good as I had hoped for (basically all of the whiskies I’ve tasted from Hven to date have been really good and so my expectations were rightfully set high). Its flaw is the dryness, a dryness that sadly makes the taste rather one-dimensional.
Finally, a big thanks to the nice people at Hven Distillery for the great opportunity to review this whisky before it's release! For kind of weekly updates please make sure to follow my FB-page by clicking here, my instagram by clicking here, and my twitter-page by clicking here. Copyright © and All Rights Reserved on all tasting notes and text by SamuelWhisky and pictures and videos likewise belong to SamuelWhisky, unless stated. If you would like to use any such material that belongs to SamuelWhisky or is associated with SamuelWhisky, please ask by sending me an email to samuelkarlssonorebro [at] gmail [dot] com and when permission is granted by stating the source.