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A new single malt from Glasgow?
The subject of this review took me by surprise. I first encountered it through social media adverts that described it as “a new single malt from Glasgow”. Since I was completely unaware of it, I began to worry that my credentials as a fully-fledged whisky nerd of old Glesga toon would be called into question. Some badly worded coverage on some websites only served to confuse the matter further as it wasn’t entirely clear where the product had come from. It seemed like I’d somehow managed to miss the opening of a brand new Glaswegian distillery.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. It turns out King’s Inch is a new single malt brand from Courageous Spirits, the company behind Glas We Gin. The product, it seems, has been in the planning for quite some time. Dr. Jim Swan, the distillery consultant who helped Kilchoman, Kavalan, Cotswolds, Annandale, Lindores Abbey and countless others get up and running, laid out the blueprint for the malt before he tragically passed away in 2017.
Stepping into his shoes was Dr Jack Mayo, then head distiller at Glasgow Distillery (with that information we might well have solved the “mystery” as to where this whisky was produced). Mayo holds a PhD in Astrophysics as well as an MSc in Brewing and Distilling. He joined Glasgow as a distiller before rising to Head Distiller and then Distillery Manager. He has since gone on to help other new distilleries in their early stages, Edinburgh’s Holyrood and Donegal’s Crolly Distillery among them.
The liquid was matured in a combination of first fill Kentucky bourbon barrels and first fill oloroso casks from Jerez. There’s no age statement but Glasgow only came online in 2015, so the whisky can’t be any older than that. Smart money says it’s around 5 years in age.
The King’s Inch name has something of a double meaning. In old Imperial measurements, a King’s Inch was said to equate to three barleycorns laid end to end. However, it was also the name of an island in the River Clyde. King’s Inch lay in the river near Renfrew. At one time it even housed a 12th century castle. Thanks to extensive dredging and diversion of the river’s flow, however, the island became part of the southern river bank. The Braehead shopping centre and arena stand on King’s Inch Road, near the island’s former location.
*Full disclosure: I was sent the whisky featured in this article free of charge. As always I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the dram and the value for money it represents.
Bottled at 46%. Un-chill-filtered. Natural Colour. Approximately 5000 bottles available.
Smell: Lots of barley malt and biscuit. Oatcakes. Muesli. Warm aromas of baking spices and subtle oak. Baked apples. Hint of dried fruits / sherry character.
Taste: Honeyed malt arrival. Caramel. Milk chocolate. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Raisins. Touch of vanilla and a return of the muesli before a wood spice finish.
Thoughts: There’s nothing particularly unusual or unique going on here but for a young malt there’s a total lack of immaturity and at 46% there’s good intensity to the flavour. Good weight too and that woody spice lingers for a pleasing amount of time. It’s interesting that it tastes noticeably different from the product bottled by the distillery itself.
There’s a nice balance between bourbon cask and sherry cask and there’s just enough spice to provide depth without overheating the palate. A good quality single malt debut from Courageous Spirits.
Value for money: £45 seems fairly sensible and puts it in the same region as young whiskies from newer distilleries like Ardnamurchan, Torabhaig and The Clydeside. In terms of quality it stands up pretty well in comparison to those offerings.
It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a future for this whisky. Was a long-term deal secured for the supply of spirit or was this a once and done situation? Is King’s Inch a one-off release or an ongoing brand? If nothing else, it should put Courageous Spirits on the whisky map. It’ll be fun to see where they go from there. Could we be looking at the first tentative steps of another Glasgow distillery here? Watch this space.
You can buy King’s Inch from Master of Malt by visiting here*
*Please note, this is an affiliate link and any purchases made can result in my receiving a small commission. Other retailers are available.
For more information on King’s Inch Single Malt visit here