Most of us are familiar with the term “Highland single malt” when it comes to whisky – but the Lowland varieties are perhaps less well-known and are therefore not quite so popular.
In whisky terms, “Highland” and “Lowland” are not just rough indications of how far north a particular distillery is sited, but refer to a very specific excise demarcation that has nothing to do with the geographical fault line that denotes (albeit rather vaguely) the start of the Highlands proper.
While there are around 40 Highland distilleries, there are fewer than 10 commercially available Lowland single malts on the market, with the latest being a new expression called “Dream to Dram” from the young Kingsbarns distillery based in the East Neuk of Fife.
The whisky has been created by brother and sister team William and Isabella Wemyss, whose family ties with Fife date back 600 years, and whose family seat is the celebrated Wemyss Castle. Formerly employed in the French wine trade, William Wemyss returned to his roots in 2005 to co-found Edinburgh-based Wemyss Malts that has since become well known for its high-quality, small-batch releases of blended whisky made from top-quality Scottish malts sourced from distilleries throughout the country.
With Dream to Dram, however, the couple have realised a long-standing ambition to make a high-end single malt in the region. The project began in 2010 with the opportunity to convert a semi-derelict farm close to the Kingsbarns golf links, 11km from St Andrews.
After a three-year restoration project, the distillery opened on St Andrew’s Day in 2014, with the first whisky being laid down four months later, having been made with locally harvested malt and water drawn from an aquifer directly beneath the distillery.
Matured primarily in first-fill Kentucky bourbon casks, the whisky is, typically, less intense than a Highland malt and offers a light, quite heavily fruity and floral taste with a distinct hint of ginger at the end. The colour, too, is notable, being an enticing honey-blond. It can be bought direct from the Kingsbarns Distillery online shop and costs £44.95 for a 70cl bottle.