Henstone Single Malt Whisky

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The Henstone Distillery

Chris Toller spent two years working in Abu Dhabi before returning to the UK in search of a new career. He dreamed of building a small distillery in his garage but the logistics made such an endeavour impossible. As something of a stop gap he took a part time job at the Stonehouse Brewery in Oswestry, Shropshire. There he developed a close working relationship with owners, Shane and Alison Parr.

Chris suggested that the Parrs develop their brewery site to include a distillery but was initially met with indifference. With careful persuasion, however, Shane Parr started to come round to the idea. A partnership between Chris Toller, wife Alexandra and Shane and Alison Parr, the distillery was ready to begin production by late 2017. The name Henstone is a combination of the couples’ respective homes. Shane and Alison live in Stone House whilst Chris and Alex live in an former pub called The Hen and Chickens. Hence, Henstone.

The first distillation run took place in November 2017, using a hybrid still manufactured by Kothe in Germany. The 1000 litre still, named Hilda, has since been used to produce everything from whisky, gin and vodka to apple brandy and a corn whisky similar to bourbon. The first batch of whisky was put into cask on the 10th January 2018. A combination of ex-bourbon, oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks have been filled to date. The 23rd of January 2021 saw the first bottling made available to buy. It sold out within hours of the launch.

The Whisky

I received the whisky featured in this article as part of my paid subscription to Whisky Pioneer.

Barley was supplied by Crisp Maltings and brewers yeast came from Stonehouse, the brewery that operates on the same site. The distillery utilises a long fermentation of seven to ten days before the resultant wash is then distilled in two batches in Hilda, the hybrid pot / column still. The new make spirit is then matured for three years in ex-Jack Daniel’s casks. Bottled at 43.8%. Retails at £62 a bottle.

Smell: Very fruity. Apple, lemon, pear, peach, apricot, orange… Then things turn interesting. Cinnamon and brown sugar. Liquorice. Grist. Oatcakes. Vanilla. A splash of water brought out more of the ester-y fruits.

Taste: Rather light-bodied. Still fruity. Apple, pear, lemon.. even lime. Dry roasted peanuts. Chocolate. Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut bars. Malty, wood spice finish. Almost surprisingly oaky at the end. Touch of char. Water seemed to further reduce its weight, though possibly brought everything together a little better.

Thoughts: I’m not totally convinced by this one. It’s rather delicate which isn’t a flaw but also isn’t a trait that appeals to me. It felt like there was a fairly complex array of different flavours but I’m not sure how well they were interacting with one another. It’s a little disjointed and a wee bit lacking in substance.

Value for money: I don’t see anything here to suggest this is worth paying £62 for. It seems an unreasonably high price for a young whisky bottled at 43.8%. Sometimes you’ll accept a higher price when the whisky is exceptionally good but that simply wasn’t my experience here. Will be interesting to revisit the brand in a couple of years and see how things have developed.

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For more information on Henstone visit here

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