Proud to pioneer handcrafted whiskies of uncommon provenance, R&B Distillers, (Raasay and Borders) recently launched their new premium whiskies
Firmly ingrained in family history whilst simultaneously being a taste of the brand’s evolving future, Raasay While We Wait and Borders, two distinct and full of character whiskies, will mark a new chapter for R&B Distillers. Sabi Phagura caught up with marketing manager Zoe White to find out more about the company’s next exciting chapter.
LM: We understand R&B has an amazing history, could you explain how the company came about?
ZW: The story of R&B Distillers begins with Co-Founder Alasdair Day’s own family history and our heritage brand The Tweeddale. Day’s great-grandfather originally blended The Tweeddale in Coldstream, Scottish Borders in the early 19th Century at licensed grocer J&A Davidson which later became his namesake, Richard Day. Years later in 2009 his great-grandson, our Co-Founder began recreating blended whisky from the recipes in his inherited cellar book – an accounts ledger/whisky blend blood. After producing five batches of The Tweeddale Blend, Alasdair met our other Co-Founder Bill Dobbie with aspirations to build distilleries of his own. With this family heritage in the Borders and his maternal great-grandfather from the Hebrides and Bill’s ties to the remote island of Raasay through a close friend and their combined desire to build craft new Scotch whisky, R&B was born in November 2014.
LM: How much has the company changed over the years?
ZW: In the first year of R&B Distillers we continued to promote The Tweeddale and began building the brand of Raasay and Borders. In 12 short months, we brought out two new whiskies and created a following of loyal customers.
LM: R&B have now been granted permission by the Highland Council to bring the first legal distillery to Raasay in the Inner Hebrides. How long did the process take?
ZW: We undertook a pre-planning application that involved surveying for wildlife at our distillery site on Raasay. Three species, in particular, were included; The Raasay Vole, of which we found none in our area, otters, one of whom graces our site now and then and we have fondly named Olli after our Architect, and bats. In the roof of Borodale House on site we found the UK’s most North-Westerly colony of Brown Long-Eared bats as well as hundreds of Pipistrelles and Soprano-Pipistrelles. Because of this, additional bat surveys covering the Summer months took place so we could include mitigating action to protect the bats in our planning application. The final planning application was approved in February 2016.
LM: How long will it take for the distillery to be built?
ZW: We broke ground on Raasay in May 2016 and plan to be open and producing in the Summer of 2017.
LM: Tell us a bit about the While We Wait single malt whisky?
ZW: While waiting for Raasay Distillery to rise beneath Dùn Caan, we’ve crafted a single malt demonstrating our whisky making skills to offer a tantalising taster of what’s to come. We achieved this by working with a Highland distillery, blending two expressions from this one distillery; one peated, one unpeated.
The whisky then finished in our sourced French oak Tuscan wine casks from three vineyards that produce Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The result? Single malt whisky of uncommon provenance. Aptly enough, this special edition, lightly peated whisky is christened While We Wait.
LM: What awards has this particular whisky won?
ZW: Silver Award IWSC 2016, Bronze Award ISC 2016, Bronze Award HKIWSC 2016.