Remember the horse meat scandal? Where people were found to be in utter shock that the burgers they got “12 for a £1” weren’t made from the finest cuts of beef, from cows hand reared by the guys on Countryfile. The old adage “you are what you eat” didn’t hold out at that time as there was no noticeable increase in guys jumping hedges with Tony McCoy on their backs. What that scandal did, however, was make people a bit more concerned about where their food came from. These days you can buy eggs that basically tell you the family tree of the hen, I get my eggs from the Slemish Market garden so am personally familiar with the hens down at that wonderful place. Traceability is very much a plus point for quality goods.

The Killowen distillery, takes the traceability aspect very seriously and prints on the label all the information that it can, there are some legal restrictions on full disclosure. The passion for disclosure is not just an Emperor’s new clothes thing, Brendan Carty, the head distiller, wants to experiment with mash bills (The grains that are used to make the spirit) and wants everyone to know what they are getting. Settled in the Mournes this distillery is likely the smallest in the British Isles, and a thing of quirky beauty it is. Kind of ironic that Killowen’s most famous, former, resident was the “Irish Giant” Patrick Murphy, who stood over 8 foot tall.

This is the first offering, bought in spirit, aged in Rum casks by the guys in the Mournes and a superb first off it is. I must confess to liking Rum cask finished Whiskies, this one is just a little over sweet for me but has got great character and depth. The mouthfeel is a little light, but other wise this is terrific. With a limited bottling of just 348 bottles available there isn’t a huge amount of this to go around but each is hand numbered and a work of true craft. There are great things coming from this distillery in the future. Try their Poitin too, great stuff. Merry Christmas folks

Nose- Banana, Brown sugar, Hay 2.5/3

Palate- Sugar, Clove, Vanilla 2/3

Finish- Long and delightful. Coconut, Golden syrup, Dark chocolate 2.5/3

Value for money- At £80 this is well priced for cask strength 500ml bottle 1/1

Total – 8/10

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