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Killowen’s inception had two overlapping influences, one is the rambles of whiskey cleric 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. Last summer Killowen purchased some Belgrove from Peter and right now is the perfect time to release it.

Killowen has played its part in spreading the Belgrove gospel throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Peter devotes the same discipline to his whiskey that he does to his ice and sand sculptures, his farming and of course his scientific endeavours (who says one can’t be a master of many trades?).

Belgrove’s unorthodox methods and willingness to experiment have resulted in a most unique spirit. If you haven’t tried a Belgrove before, then now is your chance to start.

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 where 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.

The two whiskeys on release on Monday are independent bottling of Belgrove Rye & Oat, released in the true Killowen fashion: cask strength, no added colour, integrity bottlings, with full label transparency.  


Irish Whiskey Magazine - Killowen Oats

Official tasting notes

You are immediately transported to the Tasmanian bushland, not because the stuff is made there but because really good rye should give notes of cooling eucalyptus, menthol, transporting once again to Mexico we now get a real artisanal Joven Mescal with aloe vera and reach earthiness.
A delicate peppery spice but immediately ambushed by mint sauce, the traditional pickled type served with lamb. Equally as strong is the smokiness, an ashtray smoke that is far from overwhelming, what’s amazing is that the grain is not smoked but this instead comes from extreme Milliard Reaction from the hotspots of directly flame heating the stills.
Quality Street sweets, the penny ones with some raspberry jam and aniseed to finish.


Irish Whiskey Magazine - Killowen Oat

Official tasting notes

Creme Brûlée from the start with that ashtray again but only a note of it, so far from overpowering but it’s definitely there and welcome. A jammy note again but more blackberry this time with a refined white breadiness.

The texture is full bodied and thick with an obvious custard flavour. The Quality Street box is open again too, but this time it is the purple one and the orange creme. The Milliard reaction smokiness here is dry, unlike the sweet smoke from turf but it is well balanced with the mentioned sweets and some demerara sugar.
Orange rind from marmalade and anzac biscuits, (for those who don’t know, these are like oatmeal biscuits only nicer and a little chewy). Despite the sweet comparisons the whiskey has a welcome dryness.  

Products will be released 5pm Monday 11th July (GMT) exclusively via the Killowen Website


Issue 12 Irish Whiskey Magazine

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