Nestled in the rolling hills of Co. Down just south of Belfast on Killaney Estate lies a whiskey distillery that has big ambitions and the people and passion to back it up. Founded by Dr. Terry Cross who also owns the Bordeaux winery Chateau de la Ligne, Hinch distillery is a world class facility that spares no expense in the pursuit of making their mark on the world stage.
Since they have only been laying down their own new make spirit in oak since late last year, they are sourcing their whiskies for now. A fact they have been completely transparent about. Called their Time Collection, their five core releases include age stated expressions, a small batch entry-level bottle and a traditional Irish pot still with a small amount of oats in the mash. Our focus today will be on their peated single malt. For the longest time, Connemara stood alone as the only peated bottle you could find on the Emerald Isle. Now, you probably need more than two hands to count them all. And you’re going to need a lot more hands in the future, that’s for sure.
The Hinch Peated Single Malt has ben matured for at least for years in first-fill bourbon casks from Kentucky. It was bottled at 43% abv. Both Sean Kinkaid (@seankincaid) and I will be letting you know what we think of this one.
Sean Kincaid’s review
In the glass the light color is the first thing I notice. Whether it’s youth or the type of casks used, we shall determine.
Nose: The next thing I notice is the smoke notes wafting over the table to my nose. There’s definite peat smoke, more along the earthy, mineral type smoke and seemingly quite strong. As I bring the glass to my nostrils, I am picking up a sweet peat along with a floral sweetness. Almost to the point of being botanical. That could be from the youthfulness or maybe just the distillate has some floral notes in it. The smoke is like if someone extinguished a bonfire on a wet beach but using pine tree branches and some flowers to put the fire out. I also get a good dose of citrus fruit off the nose. Tangy and bitter, like orange peels or grapefruit. It almost reminds me of the younger bourbon-matured Kilkerran/Glengyle style peat influence without much of the Campbelltown funk. This nose is so interesting I keep going back for more.
Palate: First thing I notice is the citrus fruit notes. With the peat not far behind. A more standard peat note than on the nose. Very citrus forward and easily reminiscent of Islays output. For what I assume is a rather young peated single malt this has a great mouthfeel. Silky and not overbearing. More wet beach smoking fire notes. That grows more earthy and minerally with time. Still a touch of that floral impact kicking around that could almost lean towards a herbal type note. A touch of salt. Not brine but, salt. Like salted honey.
Finish: The peat smoke and citrus/floral notes fade with a medium finish. On the finish is the only slight tingle I get at all. The lasting note is almost a salted sweetness with a slight twang from the peat. Again super interesting to me. This is only my second time having this and the first time having it on its own. I am glad I have more left in this bottle to come back to.
Paul Bovis’ review
Nose: This is a peat lovers dream for sure. It’s not Laphroaig levels of medicinal, but it is leaning that way. It’s salty and briny. A good dose of iodine in there as well. This is a very sea breeze across a tidal flat for me. There’s a bit of a salty sea shell mineral note and an underlying sweetness of vanilla and toffee. As I dig deeper, there’s a bit of wet dirt and earthy spices such as clove and a bit of nutmeg. Might be just the faintest whiff of that Hinch shortbread cookie note, but I may be overthinking it. Wonder if I will get more of that on the palate?
Palate: A lovely evolution. The entry is oily and mouth coating. Surprisingly so for its 43% abv. The peat doesn’t hit you straight away. It builds slowly through the development. Initially, there is a lovely hit of everything I love about Hinch’s sourced whiskey. Lots of vanilla and toffee as well a big dose of shortbread and digestive biscuits. I’m also getting that malted cereal note as well. As the development progresses, the peat starts to creep in. More of that “surf n’ turf” that I got on the nose. The saltiness shines through as well as a bit more of that wet dirt and a slice of lemon peel. What I love so much about the mid part of the development is this perfect marriage of peat and that Hinch shortbread note that I have come to love. Earthy baking spices and oak round this out. There is enough shortbread at the end to balance it out.
Finish: Mostly a continuation from the development. There’s a nice, spicy kick initially. The baking spices are joined by some cracked black pepper. The oak tastes a little bit wet, but there is enough of the spice and shortbread to temper that a bit. The sweetness fades about half way through the decent medium finish, but I don’t find the wet dirt, baking spice, oak combination to be off-putting. They’re mostly in balance with each other.
With water added…
I would say the peat is even stronger now, but the shortbread note is much more pronounced as well. Peated shortbread. Is that a thing!? It’s more salt and brine than iodine. Water hasn’t helped on the palate. It’s not quite as rich on the entry or as mouth coating. Also, there is a bit too much of that wet oak mid-palate, which throws things out of balance. The finish follows from that and it’s too oaky for me.
I’m hard pressed to say if this is my favorite Hinch expression or the Pot Still. They both have so much flavor, texture and character. I’m of the mind to have this without water, but I always add some at the end, just to see how things turn out. Without water, there is an almost perfect balance everywhere. I am a big Laphroaig fan, but I would reach for this Hinch Peated Single Malt any day over the 10 year. It’s that good.