There are many drinks that claim to be Christmas in a glass but we think that a new release from the Spirit of Yorkshire distillery might well take the biscuit, or rather the mince pie. It’s an English whisky called Filey Bay Sherry Cask Reserve #4 and it has just arrived at Master of Malt in time for the festivities. But first, here’s a recap on the distillery.

The Filey Bay story

The Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery began distilling back in 2016. We visited in 2017 and were very impressed by the quality of the set-up and the embryonic whiskies. So we’re very excited that its first single malt whisky is finally here. In 2019, the first release arrived at MoM Towers and quickly vanished off the shelves. It was a similar story with the distillery’s first peated release. Whoosh, it was gone! Now the second batch is here. According to co-founder David Thompson: “Our customers have been asking for the return of our Peated Finish ever since the release of Batch #1 sold out, and we’re delighted to be able to say that it’s back.” But before we look at it, first a little recap of the Spirit of Yorkshire story.  

The distillery was founded by farmer and brewer Tom Mellor from Wold Top Brewery in North Yorkshire and business partner David Thompson, with a little help from the late Jim Swan. It’s a true farm to glass set-up with all the barley used coming from Mellor’s farm around Hunmanby, south of Scarborough. The barley goes to Bridlington for malting before going to Wold Top for mashing and fermentation. This sort of set-up, though not allowed under SWA rules, is common in the burgeoning English whisky category. I mean, if you own a brewery already, then why not do the brewing there?

Flexible set-up

The still arrangement would also cause some head scratching at the SWA. There’s a 5,000 litre wash still with a boil ball and a 3,500 lantern-shaped spirit, made by Forsyths of Rothes. So far so conventional, but at the pull of a lever, the spirit vapour can be sent through a four plate column for further distillation. The distillery can thus create two kinds of single malt, a heavier pot still spirit and a lighter column still distillate. David Thompson commented: “Our production allows us to create two different spirit styles, using a pot and column still configuration to create a flavour profile that is unlike any other malt whisky.”

The warehouse inventory mainly consists of ex-bourbon barrels. But alongside a few sherry casks there’s some STR (shaved, toasted and recharred) wine barrels, this is a Jim Swan distillery after all, and some casks that previously held vino de Naranja (wine made from oranges, an Andalusian speciality.) We can’t wait to try that release. Thompson said: “As a distillery, we are passionate about pushing the boundaries of whisky making, which is why we are always experimenting with different casks to finish our whisky in.” And they also have some casks that previously held peated whisky. 

Filey Bay Sherry Cask by a roaring fire

We told you it was Christmasssy

Filey Bay Sherry Cask Reserve #4 single malt is here

This fourth sherry cask release is a marriage of three cask types: moscatel casks which provide floral softness, oloroso casks to add nutty complexity, and PX casks for that all important sweetness and Christmas cake flavours and then filled 2000 bottles at 46% ABV. If you want to know what Santa will be sipping on the big day, then look no further.

Tasting notes from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Cranberry, sticky toffee pudding, apple, cinnamon, and red cola cubes.

Palate: Dark chocolate-covered cherries, treacle, pecan, plum sponge, and woody spice.

Finish: Christmas cake!

Filey Bay Sherry Cask Reserve #4 single malt is  available from Master of Malt. Click on links for prices and to buy.