On the outskirts of the Scottish market town of Perth, lie several whisky smuggling trails dating back to the earliest days of legalised whisky distillation, harking back to the days where The Glenlivet founder, George Smith broke rank and became a legitimate distiller.
Smugglers would pass these trails, heavy kegs of illicit burden on their weary backs. Along one of said trails, lies a hamlet of Kinrossie. The timeless, picturesque settlement has seen many a smuggler pass, including George himself at one point, as they made their way to major towns like Perth and Aberdeen to sell their precious cargo.
And it is that very name of Kinrossie, which was chosen to adorn an exclusive bottling of Glenlivet for Singapore. The Glenlivet Kinrossie Single Cask Edition number less than 250 bottles, and cannot be purchased outside of the country. This 15 year-old whisky was drawn from a single Hogshead and bottled at cask strength (60.4% ABV) without chill filtration.
The Single Cask Editions, according to Alan Winchester, Master Distiller for The Glenlivet, offers the familiar smooth, floral and fruity house style of the Glenlivet, and adds a little individual insight and character to the mix. “The Glenlivet Kinrossie Single Cask Edition will provide whisky fans with the opportunity to experience The Glenlivet in its purest form and learn about the heritage of the Speyside region through its unique taste profile, featuring notes of honey, juicy peaches, candied pear sweets and fruity orange chocolate,” says Alan.
Alan also took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of our questions regarding the new Kinrossie, and the Single Cask Editions.
I understand Glenlivet does release single cask offerings, but how did the idea of Kinrossie come about?
The Glenlivet’s reputation as a superior whisky resulted in it being exported out of the Glenlivet Valley through smuggling trails, by illicit distillers in the 18th and 19th century. As homage to the journey of the single malt, we have named each single cask after a landmark along the original smuggling routes.
How did you arrive at the Hogshead that was finally chosen?
We keep an eye on the casks as they mature throughout the process and look for certain casks that will impart a unique flavour to the whisky. The Hogshead that we selected for the Kinrossie is of exceptional quality, something which the discerning Singapore market will appreciate.
Can you tell us what’s intrinsically exceptional about the Kinrossie?
The Kinrossie offers the purest expression of The Glenlivet style. It has been bottled at 60.4% cask strength and without chill filtration. This gives whisky connoisseurs the closest experience possible of drinking a dram straight from the cask.
Can you share about the single cask programme and how it works?
The Glenlivet Single Cask Series was created on the basis of three key pillars – rarity, purity and uniqueness. It offers an exclusive and rare tasting experience with some of the Single Cask Editions comprising of only 100 bottles. Each cask is exclusive to every market, ensuring a unique experience for single malt whisky connoisseurs.
Are your single casks chosen to give a different dimension to the Glenlivet (i.e. chosen for being different to your house style)? Or do they adhere closely?
The single casks are chosen to enhance the flavour profile that The Glenlivet is known for. This addition is distinguished by the fact that it has been transferred directly from cask to bottle at natural cask strength.
You’ve been Master Distiller since 2009, which means you have kind of like, seen the whole whisky explosion from its infancy in that position. What part of it was most interesting for you? And did it change the way you approach your work?
I love whisky, which is obviously important and I have had the chance to work in a wonderful industry over my working life which is constantly evolving our offering whilst staying true to traditional methods. But the process of creating The Glenlivet has remained the same, which is what makes it so very special.
The last expansion of The Glenlivet was the first since 1978, and it was a chance for us to apply our skills, traditions and knowledge which has resulted in something that everyone involved can be truly proud of.
I imagine that the increased demand has led you to introduce the Founders Reserve so that Glenlivet can better manage stocks for the future?
The single malt market has been one of the most dynamic and profitable sectors of the spirits market in the last ten years, and has been at the forefront of a swing in consumer taste towards spirits with greater authenticity and substance. Innovation has been central to this growth, with brands continuously bringing new offerings to a broadening market, and The Glenlivet is proud to have been at the forefront of this trend.
The launch of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve demonstrates our commitment to expanding the range with the offer of new taste sensations. By introducing exciting new products we can simultaneously continue to drive innovation and consumer engagement in the category while meeting the stock demands of today and the future.
What is the general idea behind your NAS bottlings?
The age statement is not the sole indicator of the quality of a whisky and certainly not an indicator of the taste experience. There are other important factors, such as the quality and nature of the cask, the maturation (ageing) process – which plays an essential part in the creation of all our whiskies – and of course the expertise in creating the whisky.
I’ve heard that you’ve worked at 20 distilleries thereabouts. That’s quite a lot of education. I’m sure that even with your vast experience, you always learn something new each day. Can you share insights have you picked up recently with regards to your work as well as the industry in general?
During my career I have had responsibility for 15 Chivas Brothers Distilleries, which is a lot of experience over 40 years. If I were to stop learning, I would be quite concerned! It’s my job to make sure we continue to innovate and produce whisky that connoisseurs around the world will love.
Some of the most recent developments I have been involved in include the use of different cask types and oak combinations, and seeing The Glenlivet launch various styles that previously had only been available to people in the industry. As I get older I also see the importance of using the traditional methods supported by science.
I’m sorry but I have to ask you to pick your favourite child in the lineup. Don’t worry I won’t tell the rest.
I am very proud of what we produce and that gives me a lot of choice! To be honest, it changes depending on what I’m doing, where I am and who I’m with.
Founders’ Reserve and The Glenlivet 18 Year Old are in my cabinet; though I love a bourbon influence and Nadurra is a great example of this and a really enjoyable whisky. However on a late winter night I am very fond of an older sherry influence and if someone else is paying you can always buy me a 50 Year Old from The Glenlivet Winchester Collection.
The Glenlivet Kinrossie Single Cask Edition tasting notes
Nose Aromas of creamy vanilla and soft butterscotch toffee, with fruity pears and glazed
Palate Full of sweetness from honey, juicy peaches, candied pear sweets and delicious fruity
Finish Long and smooth
The Glenlivet Kinrossie Single Cask Edition can be found at the following outlets:
- 5 @ Pickering Street
- Asher BWS
- Black Swan
- Burnt Ends
- La Maison du Whisky
- Olde Cuban
- Urban Saloon