Killowen distillery claims to be Ireland‘s smallest distillery, operating two handmade copper pot stills. Also they are the only directly fired stills in the country. Brendan Carty founded the brand in 2017 so it’s clear that today’s review is not about their own spirit.
Killowen Dalriadan – Part 1 of 2 is an 11-year-old blended malt whiskey inspired by the ancient kingdom of Dál Riata. It is composed of 40% of smoky peated whisky from Islay (Caol Ila) and 60% triple distilled whiskey from a distillery in the North of Ireland (our guess would be Bushmills?). While the Islay component matured in ex-bourbon hogsheads, the Irish part also spent three years in oloroso sherry butts.
Killowen The Dalriadan – Part 1 of 2 – 11 yo (57,5%, OB 2021, Oloroso sherry butt finish, 386 btl.)
Nose: quite fruity, showing peaches, lemon sherbet and hints of pineapple candy. Some raisin richness too. Behind this is a drier layer of leather and coal smoke – a young but rather heavily peated Islay profile. Burnt wood chips, hints of pancetta. Together they create a kind of sweeter version of Caol Ila, so to speak.
Mouth: a similar sweetness and fruitiness. There is pineapple and a hint of mango, with sweet lemon candy on the side. It confirms the Bushmills provenance. Subtle greener, grassier notes in the background, as well as a pinch of white pepper. All this comes with generous peaty notes, smouldering ashes and charred notes. Good balance, although the heat is a little too much.
Finish: long, still rather hot, with herbal smoke, minty notes and cracked peppercorns.
Take a good quality Islay single malt mixed and combine this with a fruity Irish whiskey. What’s not to like? Both components are well dosed, going back and forth without overpowering each other. It may not be representative of Killowen as a distillery , but as a blender they know what they’re doing. The only downside is the price – remember it’s only a 50 cl bottle. Still available from The Whisky Exchange.