Bimber - London's whisky distillery

I first heard of Bimber Distillery while traveling in Japan late last year. A whisky friend I made during the trip couldn’t stop speaking about how high quality the distillate was and happened to mention that they also had a cask program going. I got hooked and had to know more about this.

Bimber was established in 2015 in the city of London by Darius and Ewelina who emigrated from Poland to London in 2003. Darius, a 3rd generation distiller learnt the nuances of distilling from his grandfather. While he ran a successful business after emigrating, the dream to distill resulted in this small craft distillery making a range of spirits.


The first batch of whisky was distilled in May 2016. It was just this 27th of May, 2019 that the distillery could officially say that they had whisky after the mandatory 3 year aging requirement was achieved. The recently launched a Founder's Club as well. They made waves even before their whisky was ready when in 2017 Jim Murray rated a sample of their new make a 95.5 in his 2018 Whisky Bible.





While I haven’t visited the distillery personally, it does appear to be a genuinely craft operation. They source their Concerto and Laureate 2-row barley locally from a single farm in Hampshire. They get all this barley then floor malted by the oldest maltster in Britain.


Another thing that influences their spirit character is their 7 day long fermentation which is double the industry standard. This yields a light and fruity new make, with a touch of grapefruit, I thought.







At most distilleries, the stars of the show are the stills. Bimber certainly doesn’t disappoint here. They have two small copper stills – 1000 litre wash still and 600 litre spirit still, both of which are heated with direct fire. This is quite unusual with just a handful of traditional distilleries like Glenfiddich, Glenfarclas, Springbank and Yoichi following this method as it is challenging and requires constant monitoring. They maintain however that it yields a more flavourful spirit.


Bimber makes a range of spirits including Gin, White Rum, Dark Rum, Vodka. However, I was particularly keen to try different samples of their maturing whisky spirit given that I heard a lot about the quality of casks used at Bimber.


I had a set of cask samples as well as the peated and unpeated new makes (Tasting notes at the end). While a couple of the samples tasted young for obvious reasons, they were very impressive across the board. So impressive in fact, that I decided to pick up a 30 litre cask of my own! Drop by Bimber when you're in London next. I know that I will.

New Make Batch 127 – 60% ABV

Colour:

Clear

Nose:

Malty, touch of grass, distinct sweetness & honey. Fruit in the background

Palate:

Sweet maltiness, smooth and mellow for 60%. Grapefruit comes through more clearly now

Mouthfeel:

Luscious and full. Nice oiliness

Finish:

Very long, quite dry, a gorgeous roundness to the spirit


New Make Peated – Batch 140 – 60% ABV

Colour:

Clear

Nose:

Mildly vegetal dirty peat. This feels like highland peat, no marine qualities. Malt really comes through followed by citrus and there's that grapefruit again

Palate:

Really feels like a peated gin with the dirty peat, vegetal notes and citrus nicely balanced. Call me crazy, but there's almost a touch of Juniper there

Mouthfeel:

Oily full.

Finish:

Medium length, dry, smoky and sweet


Virgin Oak – Cask No.33 – 34 Months – 53.1% ABV

Colour:

Russet Muscat

Nose:

Very sweet bourbon-like woody nose, honey, vanilla, spicy, lively, fresh, yet rounded

Palate:

Spicy & sweet, honeysuckle and lovely caramel, wood shavings, light cherries

Mouthfeel:

Medium

Finish:

Long, honeyed, spice on the back of the throat. No bitterness from the wood


Ex-Bourbon– Cask No. 15 – 35 Months – 53.7% ABV

Colour:

Russet Muscat

Nose:

An immediate salty savoury whiff before revealing subtle aromatic wood, caramel, pine cones. There's the fresh minty rye spice lingering right through

Palate:

Young wood, oak really stands out with loads of pine. Sweetness starts to come through with the new make character definitely showing through. Some more time in the cask and this could be very interesting

Mouthfeel:

Medium

Finish:

Long again. Spiciest of the lot so far. Sticks in the middle of the tongue. Light bitterness slowly changing to sweet.


Ex-Sherry (PX) – Cask No. 26 – 35 Months – 52.9% ABV

Colour:

Tawny

Nose:

Spicy wood, tannins, cinnamon, cloves, baking spice and grapefruit. With some air, raisins reallt dominate and there's some pleasant wood varnish and mint in the background

Palate:

Clove comes through strongly, spicy and dry wood tannins, earthy, cinnamon, touches of sandalwood and ash. Reminds me of grandmas old cupboard and faint wood varnish

Mouthfeel:

Oily. Medium to full.

Finish:

Medium length, dry and slight bitterness


Ex-Sherry (PX) – Cask No. 38 – 35 Months – 53.7% ABV

Colour:

Mahogany

Nose:

Spicy wood tannins, but old wood, dried fruits

Palate:

Spicy old wood. This is very wood forward. Medium spicy, figs, raisins. Not as complex as the other PX sample

Mouthfeel:

Medium

Finish:

Medium length, dry, woody and slight bitterness



All samples and distillery images were provided by Bimber distillery. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached.




Uday Balaji is the Managing Partner of The Whisky Advisor, your one stop shop for Whisk(e)y training, events, advisory and beyond. Uday is based out of India, but constantly travels across whisky regions learning and passing on knowledge about whiskies from across the world. Get in touch with him at uday[at]thewhiskyadvisor.[com] if you would like to collaborate.



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