England's Isle Of Wight Sees Its First Ever Legal Whisky Produced - The Whiskey Wash

England’s Isle Of Wight Sees Its First Ever Legal Whisky Produced

By Nino Marchetti / January 17, 2019

The Isle of Wight is noted for sitting in the English Channel, being just a few miles off the southern coast of England. The largest and also second most populous island of this part of the United Kingdom it has, until of late anyhow, not been on the whisky radar. That’s changed though with word of the island’s first legal whisky recently coming of age.

The Isle of Wight Distillery recently announced its distiller Xavier Baker had distilled a little over three years ago “a 9.2% ABV un-hopped beer whisky wash recipe with local barley, grown by Island farmers. The spirit was brewed at Goddards Brewery then moved to the Isle of Wight Distillery for multiple distillations and placed in oak for the 3-year maturation process.”

The Isle of Wight team showcases their new whisky (image via Isle of Wight Distillery)

Fast forward to a little over three years later and this distillery’s first ever malt spirit is now considered a legal single malt whisky, at least by Scottish whisky regulations anyhow. These dictate essentially that “spirits destined to be whisky cannot be legally referred to as such until a minimum of three years maturing have passed.”

“Great care and attention have been given to brewing the wash, a process often rushed in distilling,” said Baker in a prepared statement. “Distillers and Brewers for generations have never really spoken, although the first part of whisky production is creating a strong beer. Our point of difference is we are approaching our whisky from a brewer’s perspective.”

Typically, whisky distillers will allow the natural exothermic reaction of yeast, fermenting sugars giving off temperatures of up to 40oC. Yeast will start to die at 24oC, giving off undesirable flavours that will carry across to the new-make spirit, requiring 5 years plus of maturation in oak to let those undesirable flavours mellow out and dissipate. Our whisky wash has been fermented as an ale between 22 -24oC for a longer, slower, controlled fermentation. This maintains happy yeast and gives a smoother, fuller flavour to the whisky.”

“We are excited and honoured to be the first to create a legal whisky on the Isle of Wight. The process has required a lot of effort and patience over the last few years and we’re delighted that it’s now coming to fruition.”

Those at Isle of Wight believe their whisky is not yet ready for bottling, and plan to let it continue to mature “in a combination of bourbon and charred white wine casks” until they deem it ready for release.