My first impression of Kingsbarns was really good. When I participated in last year’s Blind Tasting Competition, I came across the Family Reserve. It really punched above its weight as a fruity, vibrant 3-year-old, reminding me of much older single malts such as Glentauchers from the mid to late 1990s. Now the distillery has a new expression, the Bell Rock.
As the distillery is still in its infancy they have to resort to naming their releases. After all, age statements wouldn’t make sense because all of their whiskies are still only 4 or 5 years old. So that’s why we’re now drinking a whisky called Bell Rock. It is named after one of the local landmarks in Fife, described by distillery manager Peter Holroyd as “quite a striking feature in the coastline.”
More interestingly though, Kingsbarns Bell Rock has been made solely from barley grown in Fife, the region the distillery is based in. Or, to steal a line from fellow blogger Sjoerd, it’s basically what Springbank would bottle as Local Barley.
The new release matured in two cask types: 30% ex-bourbon and 70% ex-Oloroso sherry casks. “We know that these two cask types work very well for Kingsbarns”, according to Peter Holroyd. “They both compliment that elegant, fruity distillery DNA character that you get straight of the stills.” Believe it or not, but this is the first time ever the distillery has married these two cask types together.
Kingsbarns Bell Rock (46%, OB, 2021)
Nose: Notes of pickled lemon, lime zest, a whiff of copper coins as well as some mineral touches. Some vanilla sugar and a touch of pot ale. Slightly spirity also. Taste: Creamy mouthfeel accompanied by a spicy, nutty arrival. Peanut skins, white pepper and cloves mainly. Some sweet powdered sugar and honey followed by barley-infused water. Finish: Short to medium in length. Gentle orchard fruits.
The Family Reserve was a powerhouse of a whisky. This is not that. It's comparatively all a bit tame and timid. And way less fruity. The Kingsbarns Bell Rock is fine, but lacks a little interest.