Hinch Distillery - The Time Collection

Hinch Distillery is situated just 5 miles outside of the historic town of Ballynahinch, Co Down and along with the likes of Echlinville Distillery, Rademon Estate Distillery, Killowen Distillery and Copeland Distillery are bringing the art of whiskey production very much to the fore once again in County Down, a county that before the collapse of Irish whiskey on the world scene had seven operational distilleries.

Under the guidance of Head Distiller, Aaron Flaherty, Hinch began production of their own spirit on November 9th 2020 when their first triple distilled single malt new make flowed through their spirit safe for the first time. A rather momentous day for all those involved at the distillery. Now its just a matter of patiently waiting while the stock they are laying down matures on the grounds of the Killaney Estate.

I've been very fortunate to try their new make at the distillery and was very, very impressed with it which bodes well for what will eventually come to market as long as the wood management is as well executed.

In the meantime Hinch do already have whiskey on the market and have always been very open about it being a sourced product. So while we wait on Hinch proper to mature let's look at the Time Collection that is currently available to buy.


First up the Small Batch Blend & Single Pot Still releases.

The Small Batch blend is 30% malt, 70% grain fully matured in 1st fill bourbon casks for between 3-4 years.

The SPS is matured in both bourbon and sherry casks and is around the 4 year old mark. Both expressions are bottled at 43% and can be picked up from Fairley's Wines in Coleraine for £33 & £35 respectively.

SMALL BATCH

Colour: pale gold

Nose: chewy toffee followed by floral grain & fresh laundry. Some cask char & pencil shavings. Furniture polish too. Time brings fresh citrus peel.

Palate: Quite a creamy mouthfeel. Vanilla, mild wood spice, pepper and lemon rind.

Finish: short with the pepper heat lingering most fervently.


SINGLE POT STILL

Colour: straw

Nose: Quite spicy. New make & wood spices dominant. Fresh cut oak, resin, white pepper, lime zest, gooseberry & eucalyptus. Some polish notes too.

Palate: A dry & spicy arrival. Lots of pepper & chili heat plus raw ginger. Cinnamon sticks, green herbs and fresh wood sap. Next to no sweetness.

Finish: verging on medium length but dominated by pepper heat & bitter green herbal notes.



Next up are the 5 year old and 10 year old blends.

The 5 year old is a blend of 25% malt/75% grain matured in bourbon barrels for 4 years before a year in virgin oak.

The 10 year old is 15% 17 year old malt & 85% 10 to 12 year old grain. Its finished in sherry casks after a bourbon maturation.

Both are bottled at 43% and cost £35 & £45 respectively from Fairley's Wines.

HINCH 5 YEAR OLD

Colour: pale gold

Nose: fresh & citrusy. Lemon zest, apple blossom, fruit salad sweets, butter, light spice, vanilla & pine sap.

Palate: lemon sherbet, white sugar, apple drops, peach, cinnamon, black pepper & some green herbs.

Finish: short with green apples & the herbal aspect lingering longest.


HINCH 10 YEAR OLD SHERRY FINISH

Colour: gold

Nose: Red apples, custard cremes, almonds, raisins & fresh oak. New leather & orange. Fudge, Danish pastry and black tea.

Palate: vanilla custard tart. Crumble topping - cinnamon, roasted biscuit & brown sugar. Rum & raisin ice cream, chewy fudge & milk chocolate. A pleasant warming spice appears mid palate.

Finish: medium length with oak, cocoa & red apples.

Finally we have the Peated Single Malt and the 18 year old Single Malt

The Peated is around 4 years old, peated to 55ppm, matured entirely in bourbon casks & bottled at 43% abv.

The 18 year old is from a famous northern distillery, matured in bourbon casks before a 6 month finish in Grande Reserve casks from Chateau De La Ligne, Bordeaux, owned by Terry Cross himself. This is bottled at 46% & also comes with a bottle of the Grande Reserve wine in the presentation pack.

Both are available from Fairley's Wines priced at £35 & £245 respectively.


HINCH PEATED SM

Colour: pinot grigio

Nose: Lanolin, paraffin, new leather, cut & dried hay, camphor. A little hint of new make. Brined lemons, chicory, beeswax, apple, malt & coal dust.

Palate: drinks older than it is. Creamy, sweet, honeyed malt arrival....tart green apple, smoked lemon rind, pear, grapefruit, chicory, leather, a chalkiness too before bonfire smoke.

Finish: medium with sea spray, lemon & smouldering ash.



HINCH 18 YEAR OLD SM

Colour: Amber

Nose: rich & fruity. Frangipane, peach cobbler, apples & nectarines. A real cream quality. Milk chocolate & fruit salad sweets. A nice dry woody note with sweet malt & nutmeg. Well integrated.

Palate: A medium body....straight off the bat its peach & nectarine. Orange marmalade with clove. Bakewell tart, cocoa & toasted oak.

Finish: surprisingly short sadly leaving just a fleeting memory of sweet red berries & tropical fruit.


Overall: The Small Batch blend is relatively inoffensive but has little flavour development...the nose outplays the palate. At £33 it just isn't interesting enough to recommend over other alternatives out there.

The Single Pot Still....as a distillery solely focused on Malt production going forward I just don't see the point of this in the portfolio. Aside from that its just not very good. Too young & green. It's spirity & overly spicy.

The 5 year old really ups the ante over the SPS and Small Batch with only a couple of quid extra outlay. A decent blend with enough going on to keep you interested as a sipper but equally usable as a mixer.

The 10 year old raises the bar further with that portion of well aged malt giving a nice body and flavour profile to proceedings. It might have ventured into a more highly recommended territory if it was a few quid cheaper.

The stand out of the show for me is the Peated single malt. Great value at the price and easily goes toe to toe with some of the bigger Islay names....definitely blowing away mediocrities like Bowmore 12 & Laphroaig Select. It's got character & flavour and is a joy to sip.

Finally, the 18 year old flagship....well let's not beat around the Bush....its pricey for what it is, partly due to the wine in the presentation box. The nose is a delight but the palate doesn't quite live up to it and the finish is disappointing. It's a solid dram but not one that set's the soul alight.

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