Recently, I attended two special tasting events hosted by Vibrant Stills, the German distributor of a fine selection of whisky brands from Scotland, Ireland and beyond. First, there was the German kick-off for Dream To Dram, the much anticipated debut release from the young Kingsbarns Distillery. Second, there was the first-ever meet and greet on German ground with David Prior, who bought the mothballed Bladnoch Distillery in 2015 and whipped it back into shape in the following years. At the end of each event, I received a sample of a signature drop by Kingsbarns respectively Bladnoch. Since I got acquainted with both of these lovely Lowlanders in the meantime, I am now looking forward to share my notes for them with you.
Kingsbarns Dream To Dram
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • NAS • 46%)
Three and a half years has the Dream To Dram slept before it was ready to make its entrance. It is sandy to the eye and mellow to the nose. Distinct fruit and honey notes come first: green apples, unripe pears, zesty lemon, runny beeswax. Vanilla pudding, whipped cream, blossoming clover and mild spices are part of the mix as well. The mouthfeel is round and elegant. But occasionally the youth shows itself, too. Here, I get banana milkshake, strawberry purée, apple slices and lemon zest. These fruity flavors are accompanied by sturdier notes of rice pudding, caramel cremé and turkish nougat. Towards the end, the whisky takes a turn into a woodier and spicier direction. The fruits also become more sour – gooseberries, rhubarb and apples now take the lead. Before it fades completely, the liquid gets sweeter and silkier again. Typically for the Lowlands, it leaves behind some grassy notes as well. I was pleasantly surprised by how complex yet savory this youthful drop turned out to be. Well done, Kingsbarns. Your debut’s a real smasher!
Bladnoch 17yo Limited Release
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • 17yo • 46.7%)
This limited release from Bladnoch is a respectable 17 years old. It spent most of its maturation time in ex-bourbon barrels, before it received its finishing touch in American red wine casks. It has a fruity and juicy nose. The chosen kind of wood has also left its mark. I smell lush plums, red currants, soft kiwis and blood oranges. On top, there is a bit of brown sugar and a drop of vinegar – an opulent mix of fragrances! The palate is equally good. Red fruits, dark grapes, rich oak, cocoa powder, chocolate sauce and caramel pudding make for a fantastic tasting experience. Bladnoch’s 17-year-old is wonderfully evened out; all sensations complement each other in a beautiful way. The medium long aftertaste is fruity, minty, leafy and helluva pleasing. It reminds me of Em-eukal gummi drops – which I loved as a kid. Now that I have tasted this luxurious Scotch, I am not surprised that David Prior calls it one of his personal faves from the Bladnoch portfolio.
Kingsbarns Dream To Dram (Single Malt / Lowlands / NAS / 46% / ~45 Euro)
Bladnoch 17yo Limited Release (Single Malt / Lowlands / 17yo / 46.7% / ~85 Euro)
*** Whisky samples kindly provided by Vibrant Stills ***