Continuing on with our rye craze and after the most successful launch of our penultimate Belgrove Oat Rum & Raisin last year, we have finally arrived at the final release of the Bonded International Series.
As mentioned before Killowen’s inception had two overlapping influences, the ethos, and history exposed by Fionnán O’Connor, the other was a visit to the phenomenal Belgrove Distillery in Tasmania and meeting with its distiller/farmer/scientist and sculptor, Peter Bignell.
Belgrove’s unorthodox methods and willingness to experiment have resulted in a most unique spirit. We have released both Oat & Ryes from this wonderful distillery before, and now both of them have experienced the finish of PX Sherry Casks and our own Dark Rum Cask.
This Irish/Tasmanian connection did not start with Brendan visiting Belgrove or Peter visiting Killowen but with Peter’s knowledge of traditional Irish whiskey methods that were not properly celebrated a decade ago. These methods encompassed the broader use of Oats and Rye but even more significantly the use of malted and unmalted grains, green malt (undried malt for those of us who don’t devour whiskey books), and amazingly up to 80% unmalted grain, relying on massive starch conversion in the mash ton. If you want to hear more about other methods such as forcing green malt through an old meat mincer, smoking malt in a disused industrial tumble dryer, chip pan oil-fired flame-fed stills, or even for those extra special whiskeys smoked with dried sheep shit from the distillery sheep fed by spent grain in Peter’s own circular ecosystem, then I’ll invite you to do your own extra reading, the rest of this piece is about Killowen’s release.
The release on Thursday 2nd February (4:40 pm GMT) is Belgrove Rye finished with our Signature Rum & Raisin Finish, released in the true Killowen fashion: cask strength, no added color, integrity bottling, with full label transparency.
The reason for celebrating another micro distillery’s spirit is because we love it. It has connections with Irish whiskey’s rich past and with its contemporary future. Most whiskeys need to be old – very, very few don’t, however, just like Killowen, Belgrove put the effort in at the spirit production stage instead of relying on prolonged casking, the sacrifice is quantity but who needs quantity when our game plan, above all else, is quality.
NOSE: Initially noses are like a big ‘Sherry Bomb’ but then towards the end, the sweet mintiness of the rye comes to the fore
PALATE: It’s Belgrove Rye all day, no cask can mask it, but instead only compete, or in this case complement it. The Rum & PX cask work perfectly with the warmness of the rye spice adding to a thick and chewy treat where dark chocolate shines through. Again the Milliard reaction smokiness here is massively welcome.
FINISH: Sweet, drying, long, and lovingly warm. The dryness comes across like a creamy pint of stout while the sweetness plays around like mint choc chip ice cream, in the end, the pint of stout just about wins over.