(photo courtesy of Impex Beverages)
What is the Spirit of Yorkshire? This English distillery began making whisky in 2016 with the idea that tradition is important and must be respected and weighed against a desire not to copy Scotch whisky production. Its founder, Tom Mellor, and the team worked under the guidance of Dr. Jim Swan, and the result is a proper grain-to-glass operation. It is also the first working distillery in all of Yorkshire.
The Spirit of Yorkshire prides itself in using everything possible from the land. The water comes from the chalk aquifers beneath the family farm, which they have been operating since 1945. The barley is 100% of that farm’s crops. The Molds for the bottles use the local earth to form them. This lets them produce whiskies made of Yorkshire versus making whiskies in Yorkshire.
“Our local area is hugely important to us, and so naturally, it’s where we’ve found the name for our Single Malt: Filey Bay. It’s our local beach, visible from the distillery windows; a beautiful stretch of sand that goes on for miles, from the outcrop of Filey Brigg to the headland of Flamborough Head.” - Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery
I have had English whiskies before, and I don’t mean Scotch. But I’ve never had a Yorkshire Single Malt before. Single malt is the same idea no matter what nation you’re considering. It is 100% malted barley from a single distillery. From there, you can get into differences, such as how Spirit of Yorkshire’s distillation process occurs in two of the largest Forsyth pot stills in the country outside of Scotland and a four-plate rectifying column.
Today I am sipping on four expressions of Filey Bay. Two are core expressions, and the others are single cask whiskies. But, before I get started, I thank Impex Beverages for providing me samples of each in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews. Now, let’s #DrinkCurious and learn more.
Filey Bay Flagship Yorkshire Single Malt
As the name implies, this whisky is the flagship offering of Filey Bay. This single malt aged in former Bourbon casks for an undisclosed time and then married together before bottling at 46% ABV (92°). You can expect to pay $70.00 for a 700ml package.
“Bringing together some of our very best and oldest whisky, it has been matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks […] The true representation of our light and fruity house style, it’s complex and nuanced for those with an experienced palate but welcoming and delicious for those just discovering Single Malt.” – Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery
Appearance: The bright golden liquid left a fragile rim on my Glencairn glass. A combination of sticky droplets and long, wide legs made their way back to the pool.
Nose: The fruity, malty aroma consisted of apricot, apple, pear, and peach. I also came across cinnamon and toasted oak. Peaches and cream rolled across my tongue when I pulled the air through my lips.
Palate: A light but oily mouthfeel began the tasting experience. The front was bright with orange, lemon, and apple. As it moved across my palate, honey, peaches, and pastry formed the middle, with gingerbread, hazelnut, and vanilla on the back.
Finish: An amazingly fruity finish included peach, lemon, orange, and apricot. Vanilla, hazelnut, almond, and ginger rounded things out for a medium-long duration.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Filey Bay Flagship could be an excellent introduction to single malt whiskies. I’m not a newbie and found it refreshing and easy to drink, particularly on this hot, humid summer evening. This whisky was delightful to sip, and I’m happy to rate this one a Bottle.
Filey Bay STR Finish
What is STR? That is when a distillery will Shave, Toast, and Re-char a barrel. It isn’t always wine barrels that go through an STR process, but in my experience, it is the most common. In the case of Filey Bay STR Finish, red wine barriques from Sunny Vineyards of Spain were utilized for the finishing process following normal aging in ex-Bourbon casks. Packaged at 48% ABV (96°), a 700ml bottle carries a suggested retail price of $80.00.
Appearance: The STR finish was brassy and generated a medium rim. Long, flowing legs fell down the wall of the Glencairn glass.
Nose: An aroma of rich, red fruits rose from my glass. Malted barley, orange peel, and toasted oak hid beneath them. Drawing the vapor in my mouth led to vanilla and a touch of lime.
Palate: The texture was creamy with a medium weight. Cinnamon spice, plum, and caramel introduced themselves. On the middle of my palate, I tasted strawberry preserves along with almond, while the back suggested black pepper, barrel char, and clove.
Finish: Red wine notes that were almost jammy became known and stuck around for a long finish. Oak tannins, black pepper, and cinnamon left my mouth with a dry pucker.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I appreciated the fruitiness and the influence of the red wine casks. I might have expected those fruits to be muted since the wood was scraped and charred. Perhaps that char drew out the wine? Regardless, the STR finish was completely different from the Flagship expression. The STR was bold, thick, and left a smile on my face. That adds up to a Bottle rating.
Filey Bay Fino Sherry Cask #674
Once the core releases have been tasted, new exploration comes with single cask whiskies. Rather than releasing the single casks on a schedule, Spirit of Yorkshire simply waits for them to be ready. That’s something I respect from any distillery.
The first single cask I’m reviewing is Fino Sherry Cask #674. It was distilled in 2017 and spent four years in a Fino Sherry Hogshead sourced from Jerez. This whisky is bottled at a cask strength of 61% ABV (122°), and a 700ml package will cost about $110.00. It is exclusive to the US market.
Appearance: Cask #674 was big, bright orange in my Glencairn glass. A medium-thick rim clung to the wall, releasing only a few thick tears.
Nose: The sherry influence had no problem shouting from the rooftops. Raisin, plum, almond, and dry oak permeated my nostrils. But I also smelled cocoa powder. There was candied orange peel when I inhaled that air through my lips.
Palate: A thin, oily texture greeted my palate. The front consisted of dark fruits blended with nutmeg, while the middle offered lighter flavors of orange zest, pear, and apple. Then a strong wave of cocoa powder, bone-dry oak, and shredded tobacco overwhelmed the back.
Finish: Bitter dark chocolate, tobacco, and a complete lack of moisture gave a medium-to-long finish.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: You must be a fan of extremely dry sherry to appreciate what this single malt serves. I did like the fruity start and striking finish. However, that’s also not for everyone. The high proof is not the issue; the dryness didn’t come from the alcohol content. If anything, it was indiscernible. If this is your jam, then this whisky won’t disappoint. But because this is so dry, I’m giving Cask #674 a Bar rating.
Filey Bay Pedro Ximénez Sherry Cask #685
The final whisky in today’s tasting is not yet available for purchase but should be at the end of July. It is a single malt aged in a Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry cask. While I enjoy sherry cask whiskies, those aged or finished in PX casks tend to be extra-special, and as such, I’m admittedly excited. It, too, should be cask strength at 61% ABV (102°) with a suggested price of $110.00 for a 700ml bottle.
Appearance: Of the four whiskies, the PX cask was the deepest and darkest, appearing as burnt umber in my Glencairn glass. A thinner rim formed sticky droplets that just hung in place.
Nose: A rich aroma wafted from the neck of the glass, with raisin, dried apricot, molasses, and chocolate. Dried apricot rolled across my tongue as I breathed air into my mouth.
Palate: An oil slick coated the inside of my mouth. The first flavor I encountered was French oak and caramel. As the liquid moved to the middle, raisin, prune, and dried apricot melded with the oak, and the caramel vanished. The back was a mix of clove, black pepper, and dark chocolate.
Finish: Very long and spicy, the finish continued the clove, black pepper, and dark chocolate, while the French oak carried through. There was also a sizzle left on the tip of my tongue.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This PX cask whisky didn’t disappoint. It was mostly what I had hoped for with an added twist of the French oak. Of the four single malts, this held the boldest flavors. Anyone who lusts for sherry bombs will find Cask #685 satisfies their every desire. I loved it, and have no issues crowning it with a Bottle rating.
Final Notes: This was a fascinating sipping experience. I’m interested in what else this distillery has to offer, especially in its core expressions. Which was my favorite? You may assume Cask #685, and that would be a great, educated guess, but I’ll tip my hat to the Flagship Single Malt. The second would be Cask #685, and the third would be the STR Finish. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.