Since 2006, the Norfolk-based distillery has been making whisky and operating under the name of St. George’s Distillery, run by the English Whisky Company (EWC) – the “cheeky bastards!” as actor David Hayman once put it. Following some recent transatlantic grumblings however, the St. George brand has been put to bed here in Blighty and the EWC has now re-branded itself as the English Whisky Company outright, and with it released two new mini-ranges: “The English” and “The Norfolk” – which will replace the ongoing chapter naming convention in favour of their found house style. For the purpose of this exercise, we are examining the “Original” release of The English (as opposed to the Smokey release), which is a no-age-statement single malt release, bottled at 43% ABV.
After the initial boozy blast there is lingering sweetness here and all of the whisky’s constituent parts seem to reveal themselves: barley sugars, malt, and vanilla. The scents then melt into a toffee-rich sweetness with a feint smell of lemon/grapefruit tartness afterwards.
More of the same is delivered with a vanilla-centric flavour this time. That said, it’s still pretty malty and has an overall fudgy flavour (maybe it’s had a stir with the caramel stick?) and has a slightly astringent sharpness again at the end.
Vanilla sweetness dominates again, but now there’s a little bit of a spice element at play, that I hadn’t picked up on the nose or when in the mouth. It’s a pretty short finish though with the alcohol appearing and disappearing pretty quickly.
Overall, this is a pretty easy-drinking whisky. All the key components are there for this to be an enjoyable “whisky drink” but, when compared to many other single malt whiskies in its price bracket, it does seem more like a box-checking exercise for a non-peated whisky: soft texture ✅ a little vanilla ✅ a little apple ✅ a little spice ✅. To be fair, that’s probably what EWC are aiming for too. It has got a good malt character, but falls short of being particularly aligned to any one flavour or profile. That may sound like a criticism but I guess what it is saying is that it is balanced across the flavours it has. It is not unpleasant by any means, although a few more years in the barrel could probably remove that more astringent sharpness. A little bit of water actually kills it dead though, and leaves more of a piney/chemically aftertaste. It is probably more suited for the uninitiated/newcomer or someone who is after a quick and easy malt without wanting to make lists of tasting notes (which is what some of us want, you know, from time to time!). Of course, it’s true novelty is that it is English and, by that nature, will therefore ensure that it shifts the units and so, in conclusion: They have now found their house style for non-peated single malt whisky. Original it is not. Easy drinking it is. Their litmus paper is now set however for future variations and finishes.