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Kingsbarns Distillery: Scotch Whisky from the Heartland of Golf

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Editor’s Note: Last November we had the pleasure of spending 10 captivating days in Scotland. Below is but one adventure of many from our stay. We hope the joy we experienced comes through in all our posts and missives from our adventure, which no doubt read better with a wee dram in hand.

The idea for a distillery first came to Clement when he was working as a professional caddie at the Kingsbarns golf course.

We all dream of one day opening a distillery, let’s be real. We dream of being able to sit back and enjoy something we made, after countless hours of hard work and preparation—and some years letting a product age. Not all of us, though, will get to do that. Hell, most of us won’t. There are a few, though, the lucky ones, who get to see their vision come to life. Douglas Clement, founder of Kingsbarns Distillery, located less than twenty miles from historic St. Andrews (the home of golf) in Fife, Scotland, is one of them.

The idea for a distillery first came to Clement when he was working as a professional caddie at the Kingsbarns golf course. After they were done on the links, customers would ask him where the nearest distillery was. He’d tell them, but the problem was the closest one was fifty miles away.

(If this were a cartoon, this would be the lightbulb moment.)

Founder Douglas Clement Image used with permission by copyright holder

Clement knew what he needed (and wanted) to do, so he set about looking for a spot, finally choosing the East Newhall Farm, a site that was, although derelict, beautiful because it overlooked the Kingsbarns golf course, barley fields, and the North Sea.

Clement knew he couldn’t do it alone, so he connected with the Weymss family (pronounced Weems), already known for their various malt whisky products (their whisky history dates back to the 1820s and they’ve continued, since then, to produce a variety of single cask and blended malt whiskies), and thus, Kingsbarns Distillery was born.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s a good thing, having the Wemyss family on board, too, because until 2018, Kingsbarns Distillery won’t have any of their own Scotch whisky (you can check out the range of their products here). For it to be considered a Scotch, it must age at least three years, so from the moment they opened up shop in January 2015, Clement and the team at Kingsbarns have been eagerly waiting for those three years to pass.

While you won’t get the woody notes that would come from aging, trying the new make spirit will give you a look into what’s to come in the future.

The whisky, when it comes to age, will be a Lowland single malt whisky aged in first fill ex-bourbon barrels.  The hope is to release a number of different expressions of their whisky over time, though they have yet to say what direction those other expressions will take.

You may not be able to get the aged stuff yet, but if you visit the distillery, you are able to try the 63.5% ABV New Spirit Drink—the new make spirit that would eventually Kingsbarns’ Scotch whisky. While you won’t get the woody notes that would come from aging, trying the new make spirit will give you a look into what’s to come in the future.

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Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
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