The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

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Page 133 of 140

october 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  133 L ast issue, as I continued my search for William Grant's Rare Casks, I left you at the doors of the third distillery on their Dufftown site, the little-known Kininvie. On my visit I was able to spend time in the Kininvie stillhouse—truly a Rare privilege which few whisky lovers have shared. In fact, few drinkers other than hard-core single malt enthusiasts will have heard of Kininvie, let alone had the opportunity to taste the whisky made there. So let's learn more as that is changing fast as word spreads about this mysterious malt. "Mysterious" because for most of its life Kininvie has been reserved for blending and thus has worked largely in anonymous obscurity. It was opened in July 1990 by Janet Sheed Roberts, William Grant's last surviving granddaughter, who lived to an incredible 110 years of age. After working as a lawyer for many years, she was appointed a Director of William Grant & Sons and, towards the end of her extraordinary life, held the record of Scotland's oldest woman. Kininvie was destined originally to be little more than a workhorse supporting the excellent Grant's blends and being exchanged for other malts in the secretive world of the whisky blenders and brokers. The exclusivity excited malt enthusiasts though, who have been waiting expectantly for the official releases. The first two were bottled under the Hazelwood label—a quiet salute to those in the know, as this was the name of Janet Sheed Roberts' home. Appropriately for a family company, the very first bottles were reserved for Grants' workforce, a 15 Years Old expression that celebrated her 105th birthday. Then came a 17 Years Old bottling, sold only in Heathrow's new Terminal 5 to celebrate its opening and "Wee Janie's" 107th birthday. The 400 bottles were rapidly snapped up by savvy buyers. Then the pace quickened: batch #1 of the 23 Years Old was available—briefly—in 2013 in Taiwan, where it enjoyed ready acceptance and acquired a keen following. Then, in October last year the U.S. received supplies of the 23 Years Old Batch #2 which quickly sold out. Now the next limited release of Kininvie can be found. Because of the whisky's exclusivity it's bottled in a 375 ml. size, the intention being that more people get to enjoy it. But be quick—there are fewer than 1,500 of the smaller bottles available, with a SRP of $150. As you can see from the pictures, I was fortunate enough to visit Kininvie. Externally, it's an honest and unpretentious building, a working distillery with no PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAM GRANT & SONS PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAM GRANT & SONS

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