Bought: World of Whisky (Heathrow), 27th June 2017
88/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
77/100 – Whiskybase (average from 2 member votes)
90/100 – Scotch Malt Whisky
I went to the ‘World of Whisky’ shop at Heathrow airport without any intension of buying a bottle of Hazelwood 18-year-old. I was aware of its existence from previous trips and I liked its art deco styling but I only wanted a bottle of Chita, until a salesman grabbed me. He’d obviously been told to give the Hazelwood 18yo the hard sell and I was invited to have a sample. Don’t mind if I do! Granted it was very pleasant but I just wanted a bottle of Chita (Japanese single grain). I must stick to my guns! Then the salesman said they only had two bottles of the Hazelwood left and indicated that stocks were selling out everywhere. Clearly I had “sucker” written all over me. Sadly it worked and I found myself saying, “I’ll take a bottle!” A combination of sales persistence, several more whisky samples and my collector’s gullibility had been my undoing. For the same price as the new and more interesting Balvenie 14yo ‘Peated’ (£65) I’d bought myself a 50cl, 18yo blend in a fancy bottle. Well done! The moral of this story is “stick to your plan” even if a slick salesman is plying you with free whisky.
Although 77/100 on Whiskybase sounds quite average it’s only from 2 votes so far. I’ve got a feeling it will level out around 80/100 after 20 votes. Having tasted it I’d say it was more like 82/100 from me but Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible scores the Hazelwood 18yo a fantastic 88/100. This classifies it as a ‘very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying’. I don’t feel so bad about being duped out of £65 now. Jim Murray’s review consists of:
Nose: top-notch dispersal of subtle notes: walnut cream cake with a pinch of vanilla. The malt is low key but distinctly Speyside-style in its clarity, despite the odd wisp of something a little heavy.
Taste: Creamy-textured. Soft ulmo honey gives way to the thickening vanilla and toffee.
Finish: bitters slightly at the turned-up ending
Comment: until the final furry moments, a genuine little, understated, charmer
Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his thoughts about the Hazelwood 18yo on YouTube (July 2017):
Bought: The Whisky Shop, 27th October 2015
84.29/100 – Whiskybase (average from 26 member votes)
This is my 3rd bottle of Kininvie and most definitely my last. I might be a crazy whisky collector but the latest Kininvie 25yo for £400 is bonkers when you consider it’s only 35cl. Even if it were 70cl it would be competing against the likes of the Highland Park 30yo and Kininvie isn’t in the same league as the Orkney giant. The novelty of these ‘rare’ Kininvie bottlings has worn off for me and if they keep churning out the releases it wont make much of an investment either!
As I did a bit more research into Kininvie I discovered that the Wikipedia entry about the distillery is several years out of date. Only the single malts named ‘Hazelwood’ are mentioned (a 15 and 17-year-old). There is no mention of the 6 single malts released with the Kininvie name, 3 batches of a 23-year-old and 1 batch of a 17-year-old. Whiskybase mention 2 batches of the latest 25-year-old. What’s also strange is the absence of the distillery in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Perhaps he couldn’t afford a sample?!
84.29/100 on Whiskybase is a very good mark for my latest Kininvie 23yo. One reviewer summarises with “the combination of bourbon and sherry casks along with the 23 year maturation generates a wonderful balanced malt with lots of depth and richness. Dried fruit, zesty orange, flower meadow and quite a hot mix of spices compose this luxurious whisky, which definitely has a fair amount of American oak maturation.”
A good whisky that’s overpriced and half the quantity it should be.
Here’s Ben of ‘A Dram A Day’ with his review on You Tube (November 2016):
Bought: World Duty Free, 31st March 2015
83.06/100 – Whiskybase (average from 36 member votes)
I first spotted this Kininvie 17yo in Aberdeen airport in July 2014. I decided not to buy it because I felt that £75 for a half bottle was excessive. Two days later I saw the same bottle sell for £170 on an internet auction. I know it’s a ‘limited edition’ but it’s also exclusive to Travel Retail shops, which are located only in certain airports. If you never visit one of those airports, your chance of buying a bottle is very restricted. I suppose two non-fliers spotted this Kininvie in the auction and battled their way up to £170. To them it was worth it because they couldn’t get it any other way.
9 months later I find myself in Aberdeen airport again, and bottles of the Kininvie 17yo are still there. So much for being a ‘limited’ release! I believe there’s meant to be about 10,000 bottles but you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s closer to a million. Gatwick airport had lots of bottles too. Perhaps they shouldn’t have so many close to each other on the shelves because they’re clearly breeding! But I’ve been noticing with ‘limited’ releases of whisky that even a mere 700 bottles can take months to sell out. 10,000 could take several years.
So far this Kininvie 17yo is doing well on Whiskybase. Comments include “not a bad Kininvie at all” and “delicate and noble” but also negatives of “lacks complexity and depth” and “flat and dull in flavour”. When you think how many brilliant whiskies you can buy for £75 or less, it makes you realise this Kininvie is either a) for the novelty of trying a new distillery experience or b) selling on for a profit. Reviews aren’t enticing me to taste it, so it looks like I’m going for option B.
Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his review on You Tube (December 2014):
Bought – The Whisky Shop, 18th October 2014
84.44/100 – Whiskybase (average from 20 member votes)
In 2013 I started and finished a collection to get a single malt example from every active distillery in Scotland. I succeeded but, unbeknown to me, Kininvie distillery released its first single malt to the Asian market towards the end of 2013. With the distillery beginning life in 1990, this was a 23-year-old bottling, batch 1, distilled in that embryonic year. In 2014 a 17-year-old version was released, exclusive to Travel Retail, and was finally available in the UK. This is where it gets embarrassing. I could have bought a bottle of this Kininvie 17yo at Aberdeen airport in October for £70 but I decided it was too much for a mere 35cl. Two days later I saw exactly the same bottle sell at auction for £170! I knew it would become a collector’s item but I had no idea it would be more than double its RRP at auction before it had sold out in airports!
I was surprised that Kininvie wasn’t in the Whisky Bible 2015, given that the first batch of the 23-year-old came out in 2013. Perhaps the distillery didn’t send the author a sample to try. The good news is that the members of Whiskybase certainly like it. Over 84/100 is an excellent mark from 20 members. So it’s a collector’s item AND it tastes nice. Sounds like a win/win to me!
Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his You Tube review (April 2015):
Bought – Tesco, 13th August 2013
79.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
79.69/100 – Whiskybase (average from 60 member votes)
79.5/100 in Jim Murray’s ‘Whisky Bible’ classifies this vatted malt as “average and usually pleasant though sometimes flawed”. The author says, “distinctive fault found especially at the finale, which is disappointing. Even before hitting that point a big toffeed personality makes for a pleasant if limited experience.”
79.69/100 on Whiskybase is very consistent with the Whisky Bible score. Comments include “just a good blend”, which seems damning with faint praise.
Although Ralfy of www.ralfy.com doesn’t give this a mark out of 100 (that I’ve found) he does recommend it as part of a video review of 5 good malts. See that here: Ralfy’s Recommended Blended Whisky
Here’s Whiskey Aficionado with his review on You Tube (October 2014):