Kingsbarns ‘Dream to Dram’

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As you may have seen from my social media a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the launch of Kingsbarns’ first public release, ‘Dream to Dram’. The short history of this distillery goes back to 2009 when founder Doug Clement dreamt up the idea of building a distillery on the Cambo Estate, which is situated on the St Andrews coastline. Following several years of crowdfunding, private investment and a government grant, he sold the business to the Wemyss family, an independent bottler in their own right, in 2013. The Wemyss’ were interested not only from a whisky point of view, but from a historical angle, as the seventh Earl of Wemyss had owned part of the Cambo Estate from 1759-1783.

Construction of the distillery began just six months after it was purchased, and it started producing spirit just a year after that. In terms of production, the whisky is produced from locally grown Fife barley. A very clear wort is obtained by recirculating the liquid through the mash bed, which acts as a filter. Rather long fermentations of 65-85 hours are combined with the use of two types of yeast, dry Anchor yeast along with a unique strain of yeast from Lesaffre, which is used for its ability to produce high quantities of esters. A slow distillation and early cut point in the spirit still produce a rather typical floral, grassy, and fairly fruity Lowland-style malt. Approximately 80-85% of all new make is filled into first fill bourbon barrels, with the rest being American Oak shaved, toasted and recharred Portuguese red wine barriques (so-called STR barriques). They’ve also been playing about with filling into sherry butts, peated casks and port pipes… but that’s for another time.

With the Dream to Dram release, the final whisky is composed of two cask types which have been married together prior to bottling; 90% 1st fill ex-bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill distillery and 10% STR barriques. Here’s my thoughts.

Kingsbarns Dream to Dram
Bourbon barrels and Portuguese red wine STR barriques
£44.95 here

Nose: White mice, banana foams, strawberry laces, lemon posset, honeycomb and warm caramel (stroopwafel?). Some apricot and marzipan too, with a sweet grassy undertone.

Palate: Quite tropical on entry, with mango, lychee, yoghurt coated banana and Juicy Fruit gum. There’s also barley water, sugared bran flakes, lemon pith, green oak, a little red currant and a soft earthy sweetness.

Finish: Lingering cereal, gentle oak and a ginger zing.

Overall: Firstly, a comment on the liquid. It’s really very palatable, and shows good maturity for being so young. The casks haven’t completely dominated proceedings, unlike a number of other young releases from fledgling distilleries, and therefore the whisky is quite well balanced. Given time, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this develops once it reaches 10, 15 and 20 years old. In my opinion, it’s a very solid start for Kingsbarns. A second comment must be made on the price. No stupidly high price, no exclusive auction, no fucking about. £45 is pretty reasonable for a) the liquid and b) the fact it’s the first public release. Good stuff.



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