2022 should be another landmark year in whisky with new distilleries opening and first releases from new players hitting the market. Here’s our pick of some of the most exciting ones to watch.
It’s not exactly been the most encouraging couple of years for the drinks industry but whisky is doing pretty well, all things considered. Just look at all the distilleries that will open this year, and all the first releases we have to look forward to. The path to getting back on track is paved with good drams, from all over the world. Here, we shine our big ‘MoM’ branded spotlight on just five distilleries that we’re particularly excited about.
Whisky distilleries to watch out for in 2022
Bankhall Distillery, Blackpool, England
The team at Bankhall have been busy re-imagining the traditional whisky process in Britain with a star-spangled twist. The Halewood Artisanal Spirits (the people behind Aber Falls, Whitley Neil, Vestal Vodka and many others) owned project was founded in 2018 and has spent the last few years working to create a bourbon-like spirit in the UK. Master distiller Vince Oleson (previously of the Widow Jane Distillery in New York) uses a single batch process to make a spirit that’s American in, well, spirit, as well as experimenting with single malt and rye whiskies. Two young sweet mash spirits have already been released to acclaim, but this year we should see its first official whisky, and we can’t wait. What we’ve tried so far is full of promise, reasonably priced and so intriguing. Plus, the distillery is in Blackpool. Which is an amazing city.
Killara Distillery, Tasmania, Australia
This is one of the most highly anticipated new distilleries in the world for good reason. Headed up by Kristy Booth-Lark, daughter of Australian whisky guru Bill Lark and the creator of many of the Lark distilleries’ most loved expressions, she’s now running the show as something of a ‘one woman band’. We love people keeping the family tradition alive, but when they do so by making whisky with locally-sourced grain, a focus on supporting neighbouring businesses and a process that prioritises quality, that’s when you really start talking our language. Early expressions have been extremely good for their age, like this lovely Boutique-y bottling, and the only problem with whatever comes next will be getting your hands on a bottle, because they sell out quickly.
The Port of Leith Distillery, Edinburgh, Scotland
We’ve spoken about The Port of Leith Distillery before, because it’s an extremely exciting project. While whisky is still a few years away yet, we wanted to flag this Edinburgh distillery because it should open this year and, once it does, you’ll have to get in line behind us for a visit. The ‘vertical distillery’ rises 40 metres above the quayside, and will feature a top floor double height whisky bar (with views to Edinburgh Castle, no less) and the capacity to produce up to million bottles of single malt a year. It doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict that this will become a tourist attraction in no time, but the level of detail that co-founders Paddy Fletcher and Ian Stirling have put into this distillery demonstrates that it won’t be a case of style over substance.
Kanosuke Distillery, Kagoshima, Japan
Quite a few Japanese distilleries are gonna come of age this year so it’s hard to pick just one to get fired up about, but the Kanosuke Distillery is already making so many waves it’s hard not to take notice. Even though it only opened in 2018, the company behind it Komasa Jyozo has been producing traditional spirits such as shochu since 1883. This might explain why its hit the ground running with its first releases including young spirits showing the whisky’s progression and then a single malt first edition and second edition, as well as a distillery exclusive. There’s a real sense of originality here, with three pot stills, each with a different shape and neck inclination, allowing for diversity of production of whiskies and a unique climate impacting maturation. Early signs are great, and this distillery is just getting started.
Killowen Distillery, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
There’s just so much to like about Killowen Distillery. This is a really honest, pure operation that’s all about creating interesting, tasty whisky. From the worm tub condensers to the direct-fire-heated alembic stills, the long fermentations, experimental mash bills and bottling everything at cask strength with no filtration or additional colouring, head distiller Brendan Carty is making whisky for the purist. Expect some of the most distinctive Irish whiskies you’ve ever tasted. I’m actually slightly regretting telling you them as I want all the whisky to myself. But that very much goes against what my actual job is. So, you’re welcome.