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Singlemalting #232 – 6th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar Day 6 Dream to Dram Kingsbarns Single Malt

Welcome to the Lowlands everyone. As promised today is the first time we have ever been able to feature the very first whisky release from a Scottish Distillery. Many of you whisky adventurers that have been through our Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar journies before will recognize the Wemyss Malts name. We certainly have had some epic single casks from them over the years.

All the while they have been quietly aging away their very own Single Malt at the Kingsbarns Distillery near St Andrews in the lowlands. Cindy and I have had the pleasure of visiting the distillery on several occasions and it was really exciting this time around to be able to taste “whisky” and see how far they have come since our visit to see the first distillation run.

Have a look at this wee little interview with Jacqueline Sutherland who is the brand ambassador for Wemyss Malts and Kingsbarns. It was a gorgeous sunny day for this visit and the golf courses in the area were calling but alas no time for recreation, there was great whisky to drink.

Kingsbarns Distillery

Kingsbarns Distillery Dream to Dram Single Malt – Bourbon & Portuguese Wine Barrels # KBL1003/1 – Lowland – 46% abv

Colour:       Very pale straw on this as there is no caramel added and the Bourbon and STR (shaved, toasted and re-charred) wine casks impart just a touch of colour after only around 4 years of influence.

Nose:           Fresh hay and honey, snowdrops (gorgeous white flowers that blanket the forrest floor on the drive up to the distillery) and vanilla pudding.

Palate:       Super fresh and warming at 46%. Vanilla in spades along with more of that fresh hay/grain adding a tiny touch of barn loft in Spring when the doors are thrown open and everything smells fresh and new. Creamy vanilla custard.

Finish:       The fresh vanilla stays with the finish along with some just out of the oven, thick crust sourdough topped with butter and creamed honey.

Fantastic start for this distillery. If you start with a quality wood programme backed up with outstanding distilling and top notch equipment, there is no way you can not make something truly delicious.

I am going to be very excited to try some of the new expressions as time rolls along. It amazes me that Cindy and I were there for the first run off the still and here we are with whisky in our glass. Time marches on so fast it seems even though when you are visiting Scotland the pace of life seems a wee bit more relaxed.

On day 6 in our 5th edition we had the now sadly no longer operating but extremely delicious last offering of the Exclusive Malts Regional Islay Sherry.

Always remember to head over as in (DO IT GO ON RIGHT NOW THEY ARE AWESOME) to our guest Youtubers at Single Malt Review in New Zealand. Whisky Whistle in Canada and Scotch Test Dummies in the US.

Tomorrow we are heading North for something delectable from Douglas Laing who are making their first appearance in any of our editions.

A big thanks to Jacque and the team from Wemyss and Kingsbarns for allowing us to share this first ever release of their whisky Dream to Dram. We hope to feature many more expressions in future years.

Until tomorrow keep your glasses handy.

Cheers

Jonathan

5th Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar | Day 2 Blog #199 | Wemyss Malts Treacle Chest

The United States of America, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave and Bastion of the craziest alcohol laws anywhere on earth. Tapping your Day 2 cubby hole and pulling out your dram you may be forgiven for a bit of confusion. The title of this whisky is indeed “Treacle Chest” however as you can see on that label in your hand it clearly states “Wooden Chest”.

Treacle Chest

The reason for this is the labelling requirements of the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, United States Department of Treasury. No wonder they are simply known as the TTB. Any flavor definition like Treacle for example could imply that such flavor was actually added to the whisky rather than just being a tasting note or brand name.

Wemyss Malts loves to give each and every limited edition or single cask a tasting note name that gives you a rough idea of the flavor profile. Treacle Chest sounds inviting and delicious. Wooden Chest sounds dry and mothball like but it was the best we could do.

Blended Malts are a difficult category because most of us when reading a whisky label see the word “blend” and stop reading right there. The category used to be Vatted Malt but the Scotch Whisky Association thought that it was to confusing so decided to have two categories starting with the word blend instead because that wouldnt be confusing at all…right?

Single Malt whisky has become for most Scotch drinkers the pinnacle of the Scotch Whisky experience.  The mechanics of Scotch Whisky making for big brands discates that the vast majority of Single Malts are a vatting of 100’s if not 1000’s of barrels from the same distillery. A blended malt whisky is made up of 100% Single Malt casks but from more than one distillery. For a limited edition blended malt like Treacle Chest the number of casks is very small. In this instance only 6,300 700ml bottles or 14 casks. Treacle Chest is only mae up of 2 Highland Distilleries and all the casks were 1st Fill Ex Sherry Hogsheads.

Blended malts are some of the most delicious whiskies I have ever had so for me opening your mind and tastebuds and showcasing this delicious category for all it can be is a high priority.

Wemyss Malts Treacle Chest Blended Malt – 46% non chill filtered, no caramel – 6300 bottles – 14 x 1st Fill Sherry Hogsheads.

Colour:          Tinged amber sherry hues abound tailing to fine gold at the edges. Lovely looking whisky.

Nose:              Stewed plums and dates in butter sauce. Very Sticky Date Toffee Pudding…..mmmmm one of my favorite desserts.

Palate:            Oh yeah this is delivering that nose. 46% is spreading everything nicely like butter on toast. This is sticky date pudding complete with a swirl of fresh cream and toffee sauce. Im loving this and it’s nice to know that out there somewhere are several thousand bottles in the market that you can snap up and add to your whisky cupboard.

Finish:           Toffee is the fading note for me as the sweetness drops off and leaves a dry date and raisin note. Not a super long finish but works perfectly with the weight and balance of this dram.

On day 2 in our 4th edition as seems to be an ongoing tradition now we had another delicious blended malt with the Wemyss Malts Spice King Batch Strength.

Dont forget to head over to the Whisky Vault and to Scotch Test Dummies for their unique take on the Day 2 Dram.

Tomorrow we travel back in time through the skills of those awesome guys at Lost Distillery Company.

Until then my friends drink hearty and often.

Cheers

Jonathan

Scotchy Scotch Scotch Part 2 | Blog #64

Edinburgh Castle

What’s better than a lazy day taking a train through the lush Scottish landscape from Glasgow to Edinburgh on a sleepy Sunday?

Afternoon Tea Edinburgh

Day 1. Well after settling in to our hotel we made good use of the lobby lounge to relax and have afternoon tea complete with scones, jam and cream while looking at the splendid view of Edinburgh Castle. Amazing!

Some of you may have read my blog# 60 that covered the experience of my first night in Scotland. Well, I wanted to replicate it a little with Cindy getting in on the fun. Cindy, being the organized one, had a wee travel umbrella that had come in handy quite a few times but alas it was not big enough for both of us so with night setting in and a steady rain falling we grabbed a nice Tartan brolly to complete the set. Armed against the Scottish weather we strolled along the cobble stoned streets towards West Bow and the Bow Bar.

With the picturesque street lamps playing their light on the shiny wet cobblestones, Edinburgh looked like something right out of a Charles Dickens Novel.

Edinburgh

Arriving safe and dry at the Bow Bar, Cindy and I both grabbed a dram to toast the success of the first leg of our trip. Cindy’s dram of choice was a Glendronach 21 Year Old and mine was the proprietary bottling of Tomintoul 16 Year Old. Both delicious and cockle warming drams. The other truly fun part of spending time at lots of different Scottish bars was “Real Ale”. A big part of the craft brewing scene in the U.K. that can’t be missed is hand pumped ales and cask aged ales that are a must to experience some really yummy beer. Hand in hand with the many drams were an accompaniment of fab local real ales.

A pie and a pint at the Castle Arms was just the ticket to end a fun evening in the old city.

The Wemyss crew...all rugged up! The Wemyss crew…all rugged up!

Up nice and early ready for more difficult whisky tasting duties, this time with Wemyss Malts at their “arctic office” that had lost heating the night before. Without giving anything away we tasted some really exceptional drams with Jacqueline, Emma, Ginny and Susan. The Wemyss family has a long and lavish tradition with their fingers in many different business pies. Wemyss Malts, although a junior company compared to some of Wemyss exploits, has become one of the most important, acting as the face of Wemyss to consumers all around the world.

Perhaps teetering on the edge of losing my professional non-bias outlook on whisky for this years’ calendar, it was decided that I should take some of the whisky samples back to Calgary to try them in a less romantic setting 🙂

All of these intense tasting and negotiating sessions invariably lead to some sort of amazing dining experience. Jacque, Emma, Cindy and I braved some very chilly and windy conditions pushing into the breeze for a mere 200 meters that felt like a mile to The West Room. Yummo is all I can say after a delicious Real Ale and a crisp Gewurztraminer with some fabulous company. It was really great to get to know the team at Wemyss a little better. I am so excited to be working with such amazing companies and all I can say is that calendar owners this year are in for a real treat. Sadly, we had to leave the Wemyss team to don more jumpers and get back to their daily duties.

Jacquline & Emma

The Hanging Bat The Hanging Bat

Given a free reign for the evening Cindy and I were well up for an early cocktail at Moriarty’s followed by beer Nirvana at the Hanging Bat. Suggested to us by a long time industry friend James Cowan, the Hanging Bat was amazing. Some seriously great beer on offer. My suggestion would be to do the tasting flight. Rather than lining the beer up on a tray as is typical of flights I was presented with 5 Hanging Bat bottle caps which I could come back to the bar and redeem anytime for my next tasty treat. Pulled pork and 5 truly exceptional half pints made for a perfect pairing.

Day 2 with Wemyss and we were up at the crack of dawn meeting Jacque for a train ride across the Forth Road bridge, which is something to behold, and then onto Kingsbarns Distillery after a lovely drive through fields of snow drops. Wind and plenty of it is a regular hallmark of the Kingsbarns Distillery location just down the road from the home of Golf St. Andrews. Kingsbarns owned by the Wemyss family was brainchild of Doug Clement who drove past the old Dovecot and stone building everyday on his way back and forth as he caddied at Kingbarns and St. Andrews golf courses. Doug started us on a very interesting tour and I have to say that they have done a fantastic job on not just the distillery but the visitors center and tour. If you are anywhere near St Andrews on your next visit to Scotland you absolutely have to go and check out Kingsbarns.

Click photo to play video…

The most exciting part of our visit was seeing spirits pour from the stills knowing that the very first cask was about to be filled. A privilege indeed.

Kingsbarns Distillery Kingsbarns Distillery

The tasting room is full of delicious Wemyss bottlings and we got to try some that I had never seen before. Wow really impressive casks. Nose almost pressed to the glass I salivated over the Loch Indaal Catch 1982 Bowmore 32 Year Old. Not enough left for it to make it into the calendar but we may be lucky enough to see a few cases come our way later this year. The Flotsam and Jetsam 1991 Glen Scotia and the Smoldering Hickory 1997 Bunnahabhain were both delicious.

Bolstered with some hearty soup and yet another local beer from the Kinsbarns cafe, Jacque took us back to Edinburgh but not without a visit to the Old Course and a stop at St Andrews beach so I could brave the near gale conditions to fill a mini with St Andrews sand for a friend. I can barely imagine what it is like trying to play golf when it is that windy. The course was full as the golfing faithful braved the nasty conditions to play at the mecca of the golf world.

Thanks Jacque for taking us on such a great journey and Doug for showing us what I know will become a sought after distillery. Can hardly wait till the first bottling rolls off the line. Sad for our time with Wemyss to end this time around as we had so much fun.

A little more time in Edinburgh and another supplier meeting all coming up on next weeks blog.

Slainte!