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Regular readers of Whisky Reviews will no doubt be familiar with North Star Spirits. For those new to the site however, North Star is an independent bottler founded in 2016 by Iain Croucher, a former brand ambassador for A.D. Rattray.
Over the last couple of years North Star has established itself as one of the most exciting new names on the scene, releasing some intriguing drams bottled in their natural, cask strength state. Previous batches have included everything from Single Grains to Tennessee Whiskey, to Fortified Wine from Montilla. There’s been a rare single cask Ardbeg, a mystery Orkney and even a series of blended malts released under the ‘Vega‘ brand.
With the release of batch 5 however, North Star have created another new blend. Continuing the astral theme, it is named ‘Spica’ after the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo, and 16th brightest in the night sky (it was also, apparently, the name of a South Korean girl band which formed in 2012 but this, I hope, is purely coincidental).
Spica is some 262 light years from Earth and is in fact a binary star, made up of two stars that orbit each other 11 million miles apart. They are so close in fact, that they are likely egg shaped rather than spherical, due to their gravitational pull toward one another. Each of the two stars are larger and hotter than our Sun, with the largest known as a ‘Blue Giant’ – a huge star that’s drawing near the end of its life cycle. Spica is burning through fuel at 40,000 F and when it runs out, it will explode in a supernova that will be seen far across the void of Space, before collapsing into a black hole with gravity so dense that not even light will escape its depth.
If nothing else, the name gives us something to ponder whilst enjoying a wee dram. Here, in liquid form is the essence of the humble grain, grown in the top soil of a rock spinning through the vast nothingness of Space, surrounded on all sides by distant stars and galaxies and maybe even the odd far-off civilization. Out there somewhere, some other being may be sitting in a chair, sipping at his very own glass and wondering if he’s alone in the universe. Perhaps even wondering what the dram of a completely different species could possibly taste like…
Smell: Sherry, Cinnamon, Salted Caramel, Dried Fruits, Treacle, Oak Vanilla, Coconut & Orange.
Taste: Sherry – Plum, Prunes & Dried Fruits, warming Cinnamon Spice, bitter Oak and Orange Zest.
Value for Money: At £45 a bottle there can be few complaints over such a well aged, boldly flavoured dram.
Scores: 46 / 50.
North Star have excelled in producing high quality affordable drams (alongside more luxury offerings) and this first version of the Spica blend is another. Aged for a full 20 years there is as much, if not more, flavour here than you will find in any single malt and at the most reasonable of prices. Grab it while you can, because 1000 bottles of this beauty won’t hang around long.