kingsbarns bell rock cask strength falkland

Kingsbarns Falkland & Bell Rock Cask Strength (2023)

Now nearly a decade in production, Kingsbarns Distillery has so far released convincing, well-made whisky, if sometimes a bit unspectacular. Next up are two of the distillery’s more recent releases, the Kingsbarns Falkland and Kingsbarns Bell Rock Cask Strength.

I’ve never tried Kingsbarns’ (now discontinued) first-ever core range release, Dream to Dram. But I’ve tasted a handful of their whiskies, to varying degrees of success. My initial acquaintance with the distillery was promising, followed by a few moderately successful outings. One of which was the Kingsbarns Doocot, the distillery’s current flagship release.

One of the challenges for a new distillery is holding the consumer’s attention. Making exceptional whisky is likely the best solution, but they can’t all be Ardnamurchan or Torabhaig. Launching (semi-)frequent limited editions can do the trick as well. But that presents the next issue: how to differentiate said releases if your whisky is still in its early years?

For example, the Kingsbarns Falkland is a single malt without an age statement. It matured in 80% ex-bourbon casks and 20% STR casks. Now let’s compare that with the aforementioned Kingsbarns Doocot, which matured in 90% ex-bourbon casks and 10% STR casks. I’m not sure that’s enough of a difference, especially considering the Kingsbarns Falkland sits in a slightly higher price bracket.

Maybe bottling something at cask strength is a solution. The Kingsbarns Bell Rock Cask Strength is a (you guessed it) cask strength version of the original Bell Rock. It follows the same cask recipe of ex-Oloroso seasoned sherry butts (30%) and ex-bourbon barrels (70%).

kingsbarns falkland

Kingsbarns Falkland (46%, OB, 2023)

Nose: Slivers of vanilla custard and crème caramel, but also butterscotch and icing. There’s also a whisper of lemon pith, banana pudding and soft oak spices. Subtle touches of redcurrants, love hearts and stewed apples as well.
Taste: A pleasant, creamy mouthfeel supports notes of vanilla, cotton candy, green grapes and white pepper, but also touches of cloves and a slight bitterness. The banana makes an encore, but also citrus peels.
Finish: Medium length. A tinge of white chocolate, pepper and bitter oak spices.

Young but inviting, the Kingsbarns Falkland is slightly creamier and seems a little less reliant on oak than the Doocot. Not necessarily very unique, but well put together.

kingsbarns bell rock cask strength

Kingsbarns Bell Rock Cask Strength (61.1%, OB, 2023)

Nose: There’s plenty of toffee, some fudge and a sliver of mocha, but also a good amount of sandalwood, a bit of ginger and cinnamon sticks. Then a few slices of red apple, cured lemons and meringue. It gets a bit brighter, livelier with time.
Taste: Notes of almonds, baking spices and dark caramel, followed by hints of cigar boxes, some coffee grounds, honey and fennel. It’s the sweetness that stands out, keeping the spices and oak in check. And preventing the alcohol bite from taking over.
Finish: Medium to long. Slivers of minty oak, some sponge and a touch of bitter chocolate. The caramel lingers.

Enjoyable and a serious step up from the original Kingsbarns Bell Rock. This cask strength edition has more depth, less immaturity (but still young), and is just an all-round better whisky.

Samples provided by Kingsbarns Distillery

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