At the end of May, the Campbeltown Malts Festival took place, and as usual, there were a lot of festival bottlings available. But there were also a few newcomers besides the usual suspects, such as Springbank, Glen Gyle, Glen Scotia, and Cadenheads. Watt Whisky had a festival bottling for the first time this year, but also the yet-to-be-built Dál Riata Distillery, which bottled a Speyside 2010 under their South Star Spirits label.

The new distillery is founded by three household names in the whisky world. Namely Iain Croucher founder of North Star Spirits, David Stirk, who you might know from his old label Creative Whisky Company and now commercial director of North Star Spirits, and Ronnie Grant owner and managing director of RB Grant (and probably the biggest Springbank fan I know). This illustrious trio has always had a connection and heart for Campbeltown, so it’s no surprise that Dál Riata will be based here.

The new-to-build Dál Riata Distillery

The new distillery will be located in the middle of Campbeltown, on Kinloch Road, directly overlooking the Campbeltown Loch. Only locally grown barley will be used, and the capacity will be a maximum of 850,000 litres per year.

Dál Raita is scheduled to open in 2024, so we’ll have to be patient for a while before we can actually taste their whisky. But until then, we will be able to enjoy the South Star bottlings. Starting today with this Speyside 2010, bottled to celebrate the Campbeltown Malts fest.

This Speysider has matured in a sherry hogshead for 11 years, before being bottled at a strength of 41.% ABV.

Speyside 2010 tasting notes:

Nose: a hint of leather and beeswax at first. Followed by blueberries, but also candied forest fruits. Honey. A deliciously warm apple pie. Dark chocolate. Oranges too. A whiff of almonds and nutmeg in the background. Later also a faint herbal note.

Taste: oranges. Then almonds again. Dark chocolate and a little bit of mint. Forest fruits, blackberries mostly. Nutmeg and a hint of black pepper.

Finish: long with oranges and forest fruit. A hint of black pepper and dark chocolate.

Ok, this is surprising. It has a beautiful nose but is slightly less pronounced and somewhat thin on the palate. But the finish, on the other hand, is long and more prominent again. I didn’t see that coming, ha! Overall, it’s a nice and pleasant dram with good flavours and a surprising plot twist at the end. Quite enjoyable!