By Sam Butler
INNOVATION-LED Killowen Distillery in Northern Ireland has developed two original rum and malt whiskey products as the latest additions to its portfolio of leading-edge small batch products.
The new products from the small distillery, which is based near Rostrevor, County Down, in the iconic Mourne Mountains, are a Special Single Cask Irish Dark Rum – the first from a peated cask and a Signature Rum & Raisin Single Malt Whiskey.
Fermented on-site at Killowen from 50 per cent blackstrap molasses and 50 per cent sugar only, the wash is distilled by Killowen’s flame-fed copper pot stills and worm-tubs. The first still uses a copper thumper keg which acts as another half distillation, hence the bottle stating 2.5 times distilled.
“As with our other dark rum, we used the Solera method of cask ageing using a range of casks,” explains master distiller and founder Brendan Carty. “The distillate was first laid down in heavily charred Cabernet Sauvignon casks, followed by ex-Bourbon firkins, then PX Sherry Casks, and finally this special single-cask release was rested in a single, fresh, Peated Irish Whiskey cask for six months. Like all Killowen spirits, this distillate is a cut above all other quality rums. The focus on pot still distillation and cask ageing is evident in a viscous, well-balanced, spicy, heavy, and molasses-led flavour that acknowledges its raw ingredients and cask ageing method,” adds Brendan.
The limited release consists of 54 cases (326 bottles). For every bottle sold, Killowen Distillery will donate £1 to The Joint Council for The Welfare of Immigrants’ Windrush Justice Fund, paying respect to those who created one of the world’s greatest spirits, recognising Afro-Caribbean people within the rum industry and acknowledging the dark legacy of slavery that bore its creation.
Continuing with the discipline of Killowen Distillery, all bottles are at high strength and there has been no chilled filtration or added colouring. The spirit has come straight from the cask to the bottle, and is high in alcohol content. The virgin cask is lightly charred and so the unfiltered spirit is relatively free of char this time.
The distillery’s Signature Rum & Raisin Single Malt Whiskey is another limited edition release. It will be the last of its kind before the distillery moves to a brief six year old edition and then onto a five year old malt of different stock. “As with what has gone before, we have selected a handful of casks from neighbouring County Louth. Then from its own Killowen Dark Rum cask comes notes of rich molasses and tropical fruits whereas the rich PX casks provide abundant raisin and dried fruits amidst the backdrop of the famous apples and pears often found in the sourced distillate,” Brendan adds.