Kininvie Distillery is a small, relatively new distillery owned by William Grant & Sons. In 1990 it opened its doors on the same grounds as The Balvenie with just a stillhouse, and it began producing single malt whisky strictly for William Grant & Sons’ blends (Monkey Shoulder chief among them). In 2010, it briefly closed when the parent company believed its new, state-of-the-art Ailsa Bay facility would produce enough to meet demand. That only lasted a couple years, however, as the whisky boom kept booming. All the while, Kininvie single malt became more alluring and mysterious. In 2013, William Grant & Sons finally relented with a limited release of the first official Kininvie single malt, a 23 year old exclusively for the Taiwanese market. Shortly after, this 17 year expression hit shelves. Distilled in 1996, it was aged 80% in ex-bourbon barrels and 20% in sherry casks, and bottled exclusively in 35cl packaging. These bottles appeared overseas, mostly in Travel Retail, and the occasional store shelf on our side of the pond. I recently picked one up at auction, just so I could share my thoughts with you good, whisky-loving people.
The nose is buttery and fruity with lemon zest, sugar cookie, and pear tart. Vanilla frosting, confectioners’ sugar, and pie spice are gently intermingled. It’s not as big or rich as I might have expected or wanted from a 17 year old single malt, but it’s worth the extra digging in the glass to nose out some of these really enjoyable pastry aromas. The palate is silky, but things are definitely lighter and brighter with candied lemon peel, a soft spice, and a bit of unripe orchard fruit. It is by no means a complex single malt, and the finish is on the shorter side with fleeting notes of nutmeg, clove, and a bit of dried tobacco leaf. This one shows promise, but it’s a bit too delicate for my liking.
B / $120 (350ml) / williamgrant.com