A Killowen Distillery Barántúil Quintet - Cask KD002, Cask KD035, Cask KD048, Cask KD072 and Cask KD202


I’m going to keep this intro brief as there are a lot of notes for you good folk to read and I release your time is precious, so you don’t need the Mayor of Grumpton slabbering on incoherently for pages and pages before getting to the point.

Today we have five, yes that’s right FIVE, Killowen Barántúil releases under scrutiny. It’s about time I followed up my piece of the first Barántúil release and I honestly didn’t mean for it to take this long to get round to these, but you know, life and all that.

Without further ado let’s look at the makeup of the liquids and then onto the tasting notes. As ever Killowen describe the mash bill measurements in sacks.

Killowen Barántúil Cask KD002 Single Pot Still that was GI compliant. It was distilled in May 2019 and bottled in September 2022 and was matured in a 200 litre bourbon cask. In true transparency the liner notes included the details that after 13 months the original cask developed a leak and repairs were carried out at months 15 and 19 before the contents were transferred to a fresh cask for the rest of the maturation. There were 343 bottles of this release which cost £99.99.

The mash bill was x8 sacks of malted barley, x4.5 sacks of smoked malted barley, x1 sack of malted Maris Otter barley, 0.25 sacks of oats and 0.25 sacks of wheat. 91.07% of the grain was sourced locally with only the Maris Otter coming from England and the Wheat from Belgium.

Killowen Barántúil Cask KD035 ‘White Mountain Jacks’ is a 3 year old Single Pot Still distilled in November 2019 and bottled in March 2023 and uses the same mash bill as cask KD002 (see above).  

Cask wise it’s very different being matured initially for 15 months in a specially made virgin Italian oak firkin followed by 21 months in a specially made ex bourbon firkin. This meant only 40 bottles were disgorged and this was a private cask also.

Killowen Barántúil Cask KD048 ‘Barnhill’ Mixed Mash Bill. This was distilled in February 2020 and bottled in August 2023 making it a 3 year old. It’s mash bill is x3 sacks of unmalted barley, x7 sacks of smoked malted barley, x2 sacks of oats, x1 sack of wheat and x1 sack of rye. This was matured in a 120 litre PX cask. It was bottled at 52.4% abv and was part of the ‘Barnhill’ cask share of which I bought into.

Again little details…..the PX cask arrived wet and contained 5 litres of PX which was disgorged and the cask rinsed with 40 Degrees Celsius water to prevent the spirit being overpowered.

Killowen Barántúil Cask KD072 ‘Northern Light’s’ (Mick’s Mash Bill) is another mixed mash bill distilled in June 2020 and bottled in September 2023 and matured in a 120 litre PX cask.

Quite a different mash bill with x2 sacks of unmalted barley, x6 sacks of peated malted barley, x1 sack of Maris Otter barley, x4 sacks of oats and x1 sack of wheat. Only 199 bottles were disgorged.

Killowen Barántúil Cask KD202 ‘Peated & Port’ Mixed Mash Bill was a marriage of two bourbon quarter casks, Cask 19 filled in August 2019 and Cask 44 filled in February 2020, that then spent the last six months of maturation in a fresh 227 litre Tawny Port cask. This again arrived wet and needed a rinse.

The mash bill for this release was x3 sacks of unmalted barley, x7 sacks of smoked malted barley, x2 sacks of oats, x1 sack of wheat and x1 sack of rye.

This cask yielded 476 bottles and they retailed for £120 on release.

Killowen Barántúil Cask KD002 Single Pot Still 57.5% abv

Nose: This is very fresh and clean with a lovely waxiness to it. White grapes, kiwi, icing sugar and fresh cereal notes. Sourdough bread. A hint of wood polish, lemon curd, vanilla and fresh linen. In the background is an earthy, oily note. Finally, we get freshly churned butter. Water brings out crème brûlée and amplifies the fresh fruit and breadiness.

Palate: Such and unctuous mouthfeel – creamy, oily and syrupy. It’s pot still spice that hits first and foremost crackling with pepper, ginger and dried chilli flakes. Then a big burst of sweetness – icing sugar, vanilla, ripe apples, lychee and grapes. Now we get earthiness with mild smoke and dry fried chestnut mushrooms. Toasted sourdough and loads of barley. Water makes things a little spicier and the peat more noticeable.

Finish: A little on the short side but stays sweet, fruity, malty with just a wisp of smoke.

Score: 7 out of 10

Killowen Barántúil Cask KD035 ‘White Mountain Jacks’ Single Pot Still 56.1% abv

Nose: Another delicious nose – spice, fruit and sweetness. Sawn oak, ground nutmeg, allspice and cardamom too. An apple brandy note comes through with pineapple and peach. Nougat. Candies lemon and orange plus burnt caramel and sugared almonds. Water brings out sticky toffee pudding plus fresh lemon slices.

Palate: A lovely oily texture as expected from Killowen by now. This is greener and tarter than the nose. Chicory, Amalfi lemons and pink grapefruit flesh. Then a lift of sweetness – caramel, vanilla macaroons lead to white pepper, fresh ginger and leather. Water brings out more oaky spice and some fresh fennel.

Finish: Short to medium with a mix of vanilla, spicy oak and tart citrus notes.

Score: 6 out of 10

Killowen Barántúil Cask KD048 ‘Barnhill’ Mixed Mash Bill 52.4% abv

Nose: Sublime. Cherry cola, blackberries, strawberry preserve, aniseed, gingerbread and toffee sauce. Draft and heavily sugared espresso. Coal dust, leather and hessian sacks. Fresh tobacco leaf plus some dried fruit too – apricot, mango and date.

Palate: The arrival is chewy and peat forward, some rubber too. Sweet black coffee, blackberry and strawberry compote. Porridge topped with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins. Smoked bacon lardons. Ginger, toffee and a pinch of chilli flakes. Lots of cereal with peppery rye and a load of creaminess and sweetness from the oats.

Finish: Medium to long. Warming spices, cereals, sweet mocha and leather.

Score: 8 out of 10

Killowen Barántúil Cask KD072 ‘Northern Light’s’ (Mick’s Mash Bill) 60.7% abv

Nose: Massively creamy – strawberry milkshakes, raspberry and blackberry coulis, damsons and shortbread. Nectarines and raisins. Walnuts along with pencil shavings, cinnamon, anise and an old carpet. Worn leather too. Just a hint of that peat smoke. Water releases a little more sweet peat and citrus oils.

Palate: Another lovely mouthfeel with lashings of creaminess on show – floral cream, heather honey and caramelised pineapples. Then stewed red berries, plums and raisins. An almost salty nuttiness too. A gentle smokiness pervades throughout leading to a touch of clove and mild fresh chilli heat. Water brings out more dark fruit and berries plus cocoa powder.

Finish: Medium length with hibiscus, stewed berries and swirling peat smokiness.

Score: 7 out of 10

Killowen Barántúil Cask KD202 ‘Peated & Port’ Mixed Mash Bill 56.05% abv

Nose: Winey sweetness hits first – plum, fig, ground almond, strawberries and cream. A delicate peat smoke exudes through giving an ashy espresso feel. Rolling tobacco. Now a hint of maraschino cherry as well as some orange oil. Lovely stuff.

Palate: That winey character shines through again – rhubarb & custard sweets, plum tart with clotted cream, fresh figs. Some marzipan before that rich peat smoke cuts through. Again, we get the tobacco and coffee notes as well as pot still spice grip at the back of the palate. Ginger nut biscuits, clove, orange oil and butter cream.

Finish: Medium in length with a lovely sticky and creamy texture – cream soda, turf and autumn fruit compote.

Score: 8 out of 10


Overall: The good stuff just keeps coming out of those tiny stills in the Mournes, it ain’t often you see two 8’s in one review from me. All of these are worth investigating if (and I know that’s a big IF) to get the chance. To be honest even if you can’t try these just make sure you try some or any of the Barántúil releases that come your way. Yes they may be pricey but craft and quality come at a cost and so far I’ve yet to be disappointed from anything that comes out of the Killowen stills.

Cask KD002 is an absolutely lovely drop that drinks well beyond it’s years. In fact, drinking beyond their years is something that could be said about all of the Barántúil’s I’ve tried to date. The full bourbon maturation really let the Killowen distillate shine highlighting cereals, fresh fruit and an underlying earthiness. Well worth the asking price.

The ‘White Mountain Jack’s’ was still a lovely dram but slightly overpowered by the firkin in my opinion. The nose was an absolute delight, but the palate just couldn’t match it, the oak just being a tad dominant for my liking.

The ‘Barnhill’. This is a belter of a dram. It’s complex, well balanced and perfect at the bottling strength. This is essentially the same as Cask KD001 but at a lower abv that just makes it that much more approachable and also well rounded. Thankfully I’ve a few more bottles of this to keep me going. Even the often thorny Whisky Rover liked he (it garnered a 7 out of 10 from Dunfermline Doom-monger) which says a lot!

The ‘Northern Lights’ was another well executed and well balanced dram. I know peat suits young drams and can cover flaws but flaws aren’t common with Killowen distillate. Thankfully Killowen can stand up well to the often-overpowering liquid that is Pedro Ximinez, the mash bill bringing a funk to this that Springbank would be delighted with.  Mick must have been a happy man with how this cask turned out, as are the happy few of us who have got to either own a bottle or get to try a sample.

To round things off we have the ‘Peated & Port’ pot still. A banger! Nuff said. So many whiskies can’t get lost under the weight of Port, it’s notoriously difficult to balance, but as with the PX, Killowen’s spirit seems to revel in these fortified wines.

I know we are unlikely to see too many Killowen releases with higher age statements, let alone double-digit age statements but frankly I don’t think we need to care. If Brendan and co can keep up this quality, then we should just continue to enjoy what we get.

Price wise Killowen isn’t, and probably never will be ‘cheap’, maybe I should rephrase that as ‘affordable’ in the same way an Ardbeg 10 or a Springbank 10 could be considered as regular quaffers. Although Killowen do cater for the more ‘value’ conscious with the Rum & Raisin releases that cost pretty much the same as the aforementioned scotch royalty.

What these Barántúil releases do offer are craft and quality and they do provide value from that point of view as the experience is well worth the asking fee. Buy a bottle, take a dram at the end of the work week, or crack a bottle with friends and savour them. Don’t rush, enjoy the moment.

If you’d like to support my humble site there’s a ‘buy me a coffee’ link on the homepage menu bar. Thanks for reading!


  1. Need a Barnhall ….point me in the general direction.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts