“Quiet Rebels” Online Tasting by Nc’nean Distillery and Kirsch Whisky (Tasting)

“Sustainability and experimentation are the main pillars on which our distillery is based,” said Nc’nean’s founder Annabel Thomas during a recent Zoom tasting hosted by the young Highland unit’s German importer Kirsch Whisky. This also reflects in the motto that Annabel and her team proudly use to describe their work and spirit: “Made by nature, not by rules.” When they implemented the first value sustainability Nc’nean really benefited from the fact that they built their production facilities from scratch. That way, they could design everything in a most eco-friendly way. Here, one major challenge was to properly handle the enormous energy and water consumption that is required during the whisky making process. Nc’nean tackled this issue, among others, by excavating their own cooling pond on the distillery premises and by fueling their operations entirely with renewables. Also, they use only organic, locally sourced ingredients, recycle almost all of the waste they produce, and closely monitor the CO2 footprint of their 15-strong team. The result: Nc’nean is “officially verified as net zero carbon emissions from their own distillery operations (scope 1 and 2) by Environmental Strategies Limited, confirming that the few emissions they produce whilst distilling are less than the amount which they have removed from the atmosphere.” (The just-quoted sentence I borrowed from their website.) While this is already very applaudable, it is in no way an end point. “Sustainability is a journey,” Annabel pointed out. “We still have lots of work to do, especially in regard to the further optimization of our supply chain. This is extra demanding because much of it lies outside our direct sphere of influence.”

The second value experimentation – becomes apparent in Nc’nean’s inherent eagerness to try new things. Be it the overall recipes for their spirits, be it the utilized yeast types, be it the casks in which their whiskies sleep, or be it fun cocktail and longdrink creations: Nc’nean are ever-curious to find out what happens when you derive from the established and the familiar. Against this background, it is also not surprising that the first single cask release of theirs, a UK exclusive, was not matured in a traditional ex-bourbon or sherry cask. It came from a tequila cask! And although Nc’nean have already tried out lots of stuff since they went operational four years ago, they still have many more items on their list. “Some things I’d love to experiment with in the future are wild yeasts, different roasts of malt, and single farm barley,” Annabel revealed.

To me, Nc’nean’s cool attitude and thoughtful approach would be reason enough to pay them massive respect. However, there’s more: Their whisky is absolutely top-notch, too! In the course of our virtual dramming session, we sipped three different expressions. First we had the classic Nc’nean Organic. It was wonderfully elegant and rounded with beautiful fruit notes and a delicate freshness. Next we sipped Nc’nean Quiet Rebels Annabel. It is the kick-off bottling to a new series, which will spawn one exclusive bottling per year. Each release will reflect the flavor profile and character that the team member on the label likes best in their whisky. “In my case, that wasn’t too hard,” Annabel smirked. “After all, I love all kinds of whiskies!” Put to practice, this resulted in Quiet Rebels Annabel being a multi-layered single malt Scotch whisky made from four different cask types: ex-Bourbon and tokaji as well as (in smaller percentages) sherry and STR. I found the dram to be rather subtle on the nose (chamomile, lemon, dark chocolate), yet very sweet and intense on the palate (apple juice, rice pudding with cinnamon, aromatized honey). The big and memorable aftertaste adds a spicy touch, too. Well done, Nc’nean, this one’s a real treat!

Our third and last whisky of the evening was a yet-to-be-released single cask bottling that spent four years in a cream sherry hogshead. It will launch in early 2022 via Kirsch Whisky as a “Germany Exclusive”. During the tasting, the whisky totally amazed me with its full-on flavor rush: fudge, raisins, cocoa nibs, plum jelly, charred wood, and Christmas spices! Even though the ABV clocked in at almost 60 per cent, the spirit was incredibly smooth, pleasing, and caressing. It put a brilliant end to a very nice dramming session, which that I’d like to point out, too was perfectly “snackable” due to the neat organization and manageable amount of drams. Personally, I found the latter especially refreshing: To me, six or more drams in front of the webcam often feel a little strenuous in the end. So if I have the choice, I much rather prefer an easy-going three-to-four dram degustation with only killers and no fillers!

by Tobi

The drams

Nc’nean Organic (Single malt Scotch whisky / Highlands / NAS / 46% / 55 Euro)
Nc’nean Quiet Rebels Annabel (Single malt Scotch whisky / Highlands / NAS / 48.5% / 80 Euro)
Nc’nean Aon Single Cask (Single malt Scotch whisky / Highlands / 4yo / 59.6% / ?? Euro)

Nc’nean @ Web: https://ncnean.com/ (Distillery)
Kirsch Whisky @ Web: https://kirschwhisky.de/ (Importer)

*** I was kindly invited to the online tasting by Kirsch Whisky. Thank you. ***

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