Origin: Kilbeggan (Ireland)
Type: Single Pot Still Whiskey
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon
Added colouring: Yes
Owner: Beam Suntory
Average price: € 50.00
Official website: www.kilbegganwhiskey.com
The distillation licence granted to the future Kilbeggan dates back to 1757, with a copy on display in the distillery, in the name of Matthew MacManus, of whose activity there is actually little documentation, so much so that it’s believed that he began distilling elsewhere.
Production was quite large for the time, and with the new ownership of John Locke (Lost has nothing to do with it) it became even more prosperous from 1843, with particular attention to employees to whom he also provided accommodation on rent or through a favourable system of loans.
Locke was so well liked in the village that when one of the distillery’s boilers broke down in 1866, the people of Kilbeggan organized a collection to buy a new one.
Sharing the sad fate of many other Irish distilleries, at the beginning of the twentieth century it began to decline, leading to an initial halt in production between 1924 and 1931, which, although resuming in the following years, was not enough to guarantee the company’s financial solidity, so much so that Locke’s heirs decided to put it up for sale in 1947, becoming involved in a financial scandal that reached the Irish Parliament! Failing the sale, production continued with difficulty until it had to be terminated permanently, due to the accumulation of debts and unsustainable taxation, in 1953.
Various subsequent changes of hands led to the dismantling of the distillery, which had to wait for the purchase by Cooley (now Beam Suntory) in 1987 to relaunch the label and begin work on restarting production in what had in the meantime become a museum.
The first distillation took place in 2007, in the presence of the descendants of the main historical owners of the distillery.
There aren’t many expressions proposed by Kilbeggan, starting with the classic Kilbeggan alongside the Small Batch Rye, Single Grain and this Single Pot Still, a whiskey made with a mix of malted and unmalted barley to which 2.5% of oats has been added, following an old recipe from the end of the 19th century.
Light gold in the glass.
The nose has a dairy, buttermilk scent, accompanied by green apple, apricot, vanilla, blond orange, linden blossom and wet cereals. Herbaceous background on which there’s also a slight briny hue. Curious.
On the palate it has a slight metallic touch that fades quickly (but tends to recur with every sip), with good body on rather fresh and herbaceous scents of pear, lemon, cereal, vanilla, almond, apricot jam, bread dough. Notes of nutmeg. Salty note again, more pronounced than on the nose.
Medium long and savoury finish, dry, of cereals, pear, vanilla, wood.
A truly unusual and fascinating Irish whiskey, which would be dangerously easy-drinking were it not for some mottling that disturbs a little the balance of flavours. Still, it remains an original and interesting expression in the panorama of contemporary Irish whiskey, definitely worth trying.