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Super smooth whisky

Having sampled the Highland Birchwater produced by Birkentree I struggled to find enough superlatives to describe the smoothness that their product adds to whisky.

When I first poured the birchwater into my tumbler of whisky there was no discernible difference from adding regular water. At this stage I didn’t really expect to experience anything dramatically different, but I was quite wrong.

Very wrong.

No matter how smooth the original spirit, the birchwater adds a unique dimension to the overall flavour, mouthfeel and finish. The whisky is softened, but never diminished, but it’s the mouthfeel where the alchemy of the birchwater really comes to the fore.

I don’t really want to keep referring to the experience as being smooth – it doesn’t truly convey the taste sensations – so I’ll borrow a word from Hotel Chocolat’s recent advertising campaign. The effect of adding birchwater to my whisky was to create a velvety soft experience.

Whisky is not one of my preferred spirits, I would usually opt for brandy, but with birchwater (which has been developed to enhance whiskies) I could be easily persuaded to move from a spirit based on grapes to grain.

Before I was contacted by the Birkentree, the company based in Dunkeld, Scotland, I have to admit I hadn’t heard of birchwater.

So, what exactly is it?

Birchwater had been harvested in Scotland since Neolithic times, but disappeared with the Highland clearances, which saw entire communities bring forced to move from their homeland, with the loss of their culture and traditions.

The owners of Birkentree, researched the historic links to the origins of whisky itself inspired our adventure in creating a dedicated whisky accompaniment. Trying it for the first time was our ‘eureka moment’ and proof we had discovered something truly special that embodies this exciting new era.

For just three weeks in March, we expertly tap 200–300-year-old birch trees in some of Scotland’s most ancient forests. The birchwater we gather is entirely natural with no additives. It has an elegant smooth sweetness and a fresh subtle saline quality which is mineral in finish.

The signature smoothing effect dials back any harsh characteristics within a whisky, allowing delicate taste nuances to leap forward. Birchwater does not disrupt or taint whisky in any way – rather it serves to compliment, amplify, and illuminate.

The addition of birchwater not only opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for whisky lovers, but also for those who have been put off by the whisky’s perceived harshness.