Kingsbarns Dream To Dram Premiere Tasting at Hanse Spirit (Tasting)

Kingsbarns Dream To Dram Premiere Tasting at Hanse Spirit by Alba Import / Vibrant Stills (Lowlands Single Malt Whisky Distillery)

The big wait is over! A month after they released their first single cask whisky exclusively for the members of their Founders’ Club, the Kingsbarns Distillery in Fife has now put out its debut core expression, monickered Dream To Dram. On Thursday, I was lucky to try this new Lowlander at a launch event hosted by Kingsbarns’ German distributor Alba Import in the course of Northern Germany’s biggest whisky fair Hanse Spirit. Together with Alba Import’s co-owner Didi, me and the other guests sipped three drams in a casual, fun atmosphere. We tried the unmatured New Make, a two years old Spirit Drink and the 3.5 years old Dream To Dram (which comes without an age statement because the number “3” alone does not look particularly sexy on the label). Since the two “whiskies to be” were a lot more powerful than their grown-up brother, I drank the Dream To Dram first and the New Make respectively the Spirit Drink last. In this article, however, I will switch the order around to lead you towards the big finale step by step.

The New Make was bottled to tell the whisky world “Hey, we’re alive now! We’ve started distilling”! It shows Kingsbarns’ characteristic style in its purest form. It is very fruity, malty and sweet with gooseberries and lemons in the nose as well as pears and cereals on the tongue. Despite its raw power, it is surprisingly smooth and palatable. That is because Kingsbarns puts strong emphasis on the creation of a clean, delicate spirit. Distillery Manager Peter Holroyd and his team apply a longer fermentation than usual, which results in an almost IPA-like barley beer. At the end of the gentle distillation, during which the liquid gets a lot of copper contact, only a short middle cut is extracted. This procedure brings forth an extraordinarily neat and refined distillate.

Next up, we learned what happens when you put the New Make of the distillery – which is owned by independent bottlers and wine merchants Wemyss by the way – into a first-class bourbon barrel from Heaven Hill Distillery. The contact with the wood added a lot of creamy, sugary notes to the two-year-old Spirit Drink. I found especially the bouquet to be absolutely marvelous, but also the palate and the aftertaste were lovely. While degusting the Spirit Drink, I made out sugar canes, chocolate milk, millionaire’s shortbread, candied oranges and unripe pears as well as a certain grassy note that I often discover in malts from the Lowlands. Even though this sweet n’ savory high-percenter has only travelled two thirds of the whisky way, it was an absolute treat to my nostrils and tastebuds alike!

As you just learned, both the New Make and the Spirit Drink left quite an impression on me. But the highlight of the tasting was the Dream To Dram. Aged for three and a half years in a combination of ex-bourbon barrels and specifically prepared “STR” red wine casks (“shaved, toasted, roasted”), the first regular whisky bottling of Kingsbarns Distillery turned out to be light, elegant, palatable and also quite complex. When I nosed it, I sensed white peaches, vanilla pods and grapes as well as fresh wood, soaked moss and quite a lot of citrus. In the mouth, the citrus stepped back to make room for a wealth of other flavors. Now I had pineapple sorbet, banana milk, butter biscuits and slightly burnt vanilla sauce. And when I swallowed it down, I was left with cocoa powder, whipped cream, caramelized sugar and shortcrust pastry as well distant notes of exotic fruits. According to Didi, Kingsbarns’ director William Wemyss said at the official Dream To Dram launch event in Scotland that him and his partners-in-crime have no intention to reinvent the wheel. All they want to do is make a good dram. After three glasses of it, I can honestly and heartily say: Mission accomplished!

by Tobi

The drams:

Kingsbarns New Make (Malt Spirit / Lowlands / NAS / 63.5% / ~15 EUR)
Kingsbarns Spirit Drink (Malt Spirit / Lowlands / 2yo / 61.8% / ~23 EUR)
Kingsbarns Dream To Dram (Single Malt / Lowlands / NAS / 46% / ~50 EUR)

Kingsbarns @ Web: (Distillery)
Alba Import @ Web: (Distributor)
Hansemalt @ Web: (Location)

*** I got kindly invited to the event by Alba Import. ***


  1. Great post Tobi! As a result I went off to the Kingsbarns website and bought a bottle of their ‘Dream to Dram’. A very good price too, similar to the first 3yo Wolfburn release. Your impression and tasting notes sounded too good to miss! And it’s another new distillery to try. The Scottish lowlands seem to be really thriving with new whisky investment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, David. I feel quite humbled to hear this. In case of the Dream To Dram, however, I am 100% sure that you won’t regret the purchase. It is a real winner in every aspect and the Kingsbarns team put a ton of effort into it. Besides the whisky itself, I also love the bottle design. Once yours has arrived, check it out closely to discover all kinds of lovely details, like the pigeon engravings on the glass and on the cork. :)


    1. Good question. Personally, I don’t think there’s a big market for this as many casual drinkers might consider a spirit drink to be somehow “incomplete”. For us nerds, however, I think it would be quite interesting to get closer to the DNA of a distillery via their new make or a young spirit drink. I don’t think I would buy a full 0.7 liter bottle of either, but I could well imagine buying a smaller 0.1 or 0.2 liter bottle. (In case of the Kingsbarns new make, I actually did that, by the way…)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good point. The 20cl offering from a distillery does really give you a good chance to get to know a whisky – more so than a 5cl sample – and without the commitment of the full 70/75/100cl bottles

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The only old distillery I know that have been selling ‘new make’ (rather than ‘spirit drink’, although in some cases the naming might be the same) is Highland Park. They’ve had a 35cl bottle at 50% since at least 2010. The latest incarnation can be bought from the HP online shop for £25.

        Liked by 1 person

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