Sometimes, the best thing you could ever do to truly experience a whisky is to have someone call it swill. The Killowen Pinot Noir / Burgundy Cask Experimental batch had an 80.2 rating on Whiskybase, only a small step up from monkey shoulder and lama piss. Which surprised me given the serious respect that Brendan has built in the local Irish community and with serious enthusiasts. But it also said “experimental” on the bottle. Which definitely warns, be careful what you put in your mouth. Turns out, happiness is low expectations. And it is really clear the Irish mafia hasn’t bothered weighing in on WhiskyBase. Which is a small blessing because I can still find a couple of these at retail and immediately bought one.
This is REALLY good. I’m not usually a red wine cask fan. I love me a bit of the old sherry. I’ve refilled my glass three times with another mouthful just to check if I’m trippen or if I think it is actually that special. I can count the number of times on one hand where I wished I had more than 50ml to play with.
The nose is surprisingly muted (or this could be covid onset). If I shove my sniffer in deep, I wander across a pleasant mix of red plums, haribo gummy bears, and then a bright floral jasmine.
The palate is an awesome paring of sweet and tart. Picking late summer berries, fingers stained purple with raspberries and blackberries. My mom grows groseille (red currants) in the orchard and they are my secret pleasure. This dram bursts with their wild berry character. Meyer’s lemon. It is sweet, but still has that lemon tartness underneath. The finish is surprisingly long… with a nice light woody tannin, then back to the berries. I love the touch of the fire which actually complements the palate. I rarely consider the burn itself a flavoring, but the mouthfeel is just that good. Like that fun fizzle feel of Willy Wonka bottle cap candies.
My parents have a very French attitude around alcohol. There was always wine on the table. If you wanted it, you just asked. If you were single digits in age, you might get it watered. And on special occasions, we would dress it up. This pour harkens back to my first ever cocktail, the Kir Royal. The tart bite of champaign with the rich fruity cassis syrup.
Rating: 7 / 10 : I went out a bought a full bottle after tasting it.
I’ve also managed to sip the Tequila cask release, which was surprisingly good. The acacia release, which did nothing for me and was entirely forgettable, and have an open glass of the Dark Rum Cask in my glass right now. The rum just might tie the Pinot Noir Cask but I need to drink it a bit more. Mad thanks to Martin McShane for hooking me up with these and figuring out how to get them to Africa. Shipping is hard in today’s COVID mess. You are a superhero.
I am becoming a serious fan of this distillery. Killowen reminds me of the early days of Balcones. And if you know me, I have an unreasonable number of older Balcones releases. Both really committed to local character while really pushing experimentation. I like it a ton and this is not even his own juice. Word on the street is his whitedog is to behold. I have some samples coming from pre-release that I picked up on a charity auction and can’t wait to try. A young and upcoming distillery to watch.