Kininvie (Pronounced: Kin-NIN-vee)
57°27'35.6796 N, 3°7'30.6516 W
Closed (in 2010)
Robbie Dubh sources
3 Wash stills, 6 Spirit stills
4,800,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
William Grant & Sons (since 1990)
Dufftown, Keith, Banffshire, AB55 4DH, Scotland
Just two - released under the name 'Hazelwood'
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
Note: the picture
at the left doesn't
show some casks of
Kininvie whisky, it's
just an illustration
I've added to fill a
bit of empty space
on this page.
And that's just
because I have very
little to tell about
Kininvie apart from
the previous few
Since the average
whisky drinker will
not be able to buy
bottles of Kininvie
on a regular basis,
the history of the
'distillery' will be
of interest mostly
to whisky collectors.
As a whisky drinker,
I prefer to focus on
the product from
distilleries with a
real history and
'spirit' of their own.
1) The abbreviation 'OB' means 'official bottling' - i.e. an expression that's bottled and released by the owners of a certain distillery. However, not all distilleries actually market a range of their own 'official' bottlings. The malt whisky which was produced at Kininvie was used almost exclusively for the various blends of WM Grant & Sons.
2) The only distillery building which was used exclusively to produce Kininvie malt whisky was the still house.
A mashtun and washback at the Balvenie distillery were used as long as the stills at Kininvie were operational. After the production ceased Balvenie could start using this equipment again.
Well, 'selection'... Not quite, I'm afraid...
I've actually only tried one measly expression of single malt whisky which was distilled at Kininvie.
But then again, a.f.a.i.k. Kininvie has only released about half a dozen bottlings (as single malt whisky) in their initial production run of 20 years.
Kininvie 15yo 1990/2006 'Hazelwood 105' (52.5%, OB, First fill sherry cask, Bottled August 1 2006)
A very special sample from Ho-cheng - if I'm not mistaken the very first official bottling of Kininvie ever.
Nose: Light & malty. Not too expressive, but clearly very well made. Perhaps a tad too sweet for some, but I like it.
It remains light in character, but over time some heavier and more herbal notes appear (without growing 'piney').
Sweetened oatmeal? Faint spices hop in and out of the picture. Very subtle fruits and flowery aroma's. Whiff of plastic.
Actually, this grows nicer and nicer as you give it more time. Even some excellent organics emerge after half an hour.
Hey, in the end I even got a whiff of something medicinal. You have to work at this one, but it's rewarding.
Taste: Smooth and sweet. Although it comes from a sherry cask it feels a bit like a bourbon. Not a lot of wood notes.
Some development over time on the palate - some fruity notes join the party; the sherry comes to the surface now.
Score: 84 points - I had this whisky at 83 points for a very long time, but with the nose still going strong after half an hour the score finally hopped to 84 points.
This was the only official bottling of Kininvie single malt Scotch whisky I've sampled.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Kininvie page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the Kininvie expressions that were released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about Scotch whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
First of all, Kininvie
really wasn't a proper distillery to
begin with. The picture at the right shows the entire
Kininvie 'distillery' - nothing more than a still house at
the back of the Balvenie distillery. One full lauter mash
tun and ten washbacks at Balvenie were used for the
Kininvie and Hazelwood malt whiskies.
In fact, all other equipment and buildings which were
used to produce and mature the Kininvie / Hazelwood
malt whiskies belonged to the Balvenie distillery as well.
So, in practical terms Kininvie wasn't really a separate
distillery; a distillery like Macallan which also has two
still houses might have launched a separate brand too.
The situation of Glengyle might be comparable as well.
However, I'm a completist. There are enough people
that will look for a distillery profile for Kininvie on these
pages, so I decided to add a concise profile for those
that want to know a little bit more about Kininvie.
There's not very much to tell about Kininvie, though...
For one thing, virtually all of the malt whisky that was distilled in the Kininvie still house was used for the famous Grant's blends of William Grant and Sons. What's more, Kininvie operated for only 20 years, between July 1990 and October 2010. The owners needed the Kininvie malt whisky primarily for their Grant's blends, but they were not overly eager to invest heavily in a third malt whisky brand. That's probably why there wasn't an official bottling of Kininvie for many years.
In fact, William Grant & Sons have been actively trying to prevent any 'Kininvie' single malt whisky from ever reaching the shelves of malt mongers around the world. I've been told adding minute quantities of malt whisky from another distillery to every cask they sell to blenders or bottlers has been standard practice at WM Grant & Sons for decades. The addition of whisky from another distillery instantly turns the contents of the cask into a vatted malt whisky, preventing the contents of the 'polluted' cask to be sold as an actual Balvenie, Glenfiddich or Kininvie single malt whisky.
WM Grant were quite cross when the German company Glenscoma released an 'Aldunie' whisky a few years ago. The back label claimed it was a vatting of Kininvie single malt with just a few drops of 'another Dufftown single malt'. Obviously, that other malt whisky would have been Balvenie or Glenfiddich.
Van Wees in Holland
also launched a 'Burn of
Speyside' bottling with a similar story quite a few
years ago. They have been selling those bottles
(with a tall tale of casks rescued from a shipwreck)
for at least a decade, but apparently WM Grant did
have little problems with those Van Wees bottlings.
That makes it extra odd that the WM Grant & Sons
people went crazy over the Glenscoma case, even
though it wasn't even bottled as a single malt...
Since it has been standard practice to transform
all single malt whisky that's distilled at Kininvie into
a vatted malt as soon as possible, I decided that
Kininvie wasn't a real single malt distillery (more
like a vatted malt whisky distillery if you think
about it), so for many years I didn't bother to add
a distillery profile to this site section. And right
after I decided to add a profile after all, I received
news that Kininvie would be closed for good... :-/
In October 2010, the owners of Kininvie distillery
(William Grant & Sons) decided to close the Kininvie
distillery because their new (even larger and more
modern) Ailsa Bay distillery was perfectly able to
produce the type of generic malt whisky that is
used for the production of blends. Besides, they
focused their marketing efforts on their two main
single malt whisky brands; Glenfiddich and Balvenie.
2006 - The first ever official bottling of Kininvie single malt whisky is released under the name 'Hazelwood'.
It was the Kininvie 15yo 1990/2006 'Hazelwood 105' (52.5%, OB, First fill Sherry cask).
2008 - The second (as far as I know) official bottling of Kininvie is released;
Kininvie 17yo 1990/2008 'Hazelwood Reserve' (52.5%, OB, For Janet Sheed Roberts, first fill sherry casks, 70cl)
2010 - The Kininvie 'distillery' (a.k.a. Balvienie's spare still house for blends) is closed.
2012 - Some people have informed me that Kininvie distillery is producing (some) malt whisky again.
I couldn't get a confirmation from William Grant & Sons though. So, I'll keep listing Kininvie as 'intactive' for now.
Is the distillery or