Kininvie Works: a malt, a grain, and a blend.

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Almost three years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit the elusive Kininvie distillery in Speyside. Set up in 1990 to take some pressure off the stocks at Balvenie, and provide liquid for Grants blended whiskies, Kininvie was launched as a single malt brand in its own right a few years ago with the launch of a handful of well-aged single malts. Things went quiet for a while, but now Kininvie is back with a bang.

Kininvie Works is the newly re-launched range to come out of this relatively young distillery, and I can guarantee the expressions are absolutely not what you’d expect. There are three initial expressions in the Kininvie Works range, a single malt, a single grain, and a blended whisky, which have each been created with experimentation being the primary driver. For example, the single malt has been created to see what effect triple distillation would have on the spirit (using a regime of one wash and two spirit still distillations), the single grain has been created using a mash bill consisting partly of rye, and the blend is essentially a combination of the two. Just have a look at a close up of each of the labels – this is very much whisky by geeks, for geeks.

A word on the packaging too – it very much fits with the laboratory/experimental/science-y thing, and it’s 100% recyclable too. Big tick in my book. The 50cl bottles also help to keep the price points very friendly (each of the whiskies retails for £35 per bottle), but the hip flask bottle shape kinda reminds me of those who partake in drinking whisky out of brown paper bags on park benches. Possibly just a Scottish cultural quirk, and a minor gripe on otherwise quite pleasingly different packaging. You’ll also notice that the links direct you to Amazon – this is the sole retailer for these whiskies, and each whisky will only be available in the UK and France.

Kininvie Single Malt
KVSM001 – Triple Distilled
d. 2013, b.2019
47% ABV
£35 here

Nose: Classically floral notes, with some caramel and toffee apples, some creamy, tarty, fruits, and a wee spirity edge (unsurprising given the age).

Palate: Rather buttery with some cereal notes, Butterkist popcorn, then unripe pineapple, green banana, pear skins, and a touch of lemongrass. Sherbet dibdabs and light sawdust too.

Finish: The citrus builds, with creamy vanilla, white pepper and mace.

Kininvie Single Grain
KVSG002 – Malted Rye
d. 2015, b.2019
Virgin American Oak Casks
47.8% ABV
£35 here

Nose: Sourdough, pumpernickel, and digestive biscuits up front. Then Werther’s Originals, caramel barrels, apricot, rich honey, and firm but restrained oak.

Palate: Rich rye spice, cinnamon stick, and sweet spiced chutney. Then caramel wafers, raisins, dried fruit loaf, and manuka honey.

Finish: Drying woodspice and dry twigs, with some dark cherry and treacle too.

Kininvie Blended Whisky
KVSB003
Virgin American Oak & European Oak Casks
48.2% ABV
£35 here

Nose: Clove, roasted nuts, dusting of cacao powder, and slightly earthy. Then there’s some marzipan, cherry lips sweets, sherry trifle and juicy sultanas.

Palate: Cherry cake, malt loaf, some sultanas and plums too. There’s a savoury edge, with clove studded ham, tobacco leaf, and chewy oak.

Finish: Dried fruit mix, dusty baking spices, and some lingering oak.

Overall: A totally unexpected, and very, very interesting, relaunch from Kininvie. Like I said up top, this is very much whisky made by geeks, for geeks. There’s loads of info on the labels, ranging from barley type, to fermentation length, to distillation times. I love that the owners, William Grant & Sons, have taken Kininvie down a singularly experimental path. Triple distilled liquid, rye whisky, and a single distillery blended whisky to launch the range is quite an intro. The high aged liquid we saw from the distillery a few years ago didn’t really sit too well with me, regardless of how tasty it was. The experimental slant really ‘fits’ the distillery in my opinion. I’m also usually not a fan of 50cl bottles, but given that this lowers the price of each product to £35, it makes it much more accessible. Three very good expressions to kick off the range, and I can’t wait to see what else they come out with in the future.

 

 

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World Whiskies Awards Judge         Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards Judge Global Scotch Masters Judge         Scottish Whisky Awards Judge