About Kininvie Works

Outside photo


Kininvie Distillery was built at a time when whisky distilleries were closing their doors. But we believed Scotch would soon recover and saw these times as an opportunity to experiment with a new whisky distillery. Though we knew distillery apparatus was important in developing the desired spirit style, it’s only part of the story; with fermentation times, feints ratios, distillation rates and cut points all impacting, we were curious to know more. We took a tour of other Speyside distilleries, building our knowledge and finding inspiration around the processes used to achieve different whisky profiles. It’s with this new-found wisdom that we set up, on our historic Dufftown site, the ultimate place to learn about whisky.

Made up of nine stills (three wash and six spirit), we initially designed Kininvie Distillery as a Balanced operation, meaning the 3 sets of stills ran independently from one another, using separate Low Wine and Feints receivers. In a balanced system, the wash still generates low wines, which feeds its own set of spirit stills, keeping the products of each sets of stills separate. We ran the stills independently, giving us the freedom to experiment and combine to find the Kininvie house style. Since then, we have produced whisky on and off for years. Although we never gave up trialling and testing, always allowing time to invent and reinvent.


Today, we’re still inventing. Kininvie Works is what we call our Distillery experiments – named after the time we dedicate every day to innovation. Our future is all about experimentation, playing around and mastering many more ways to make Scotch Whisky. We seek to introduce the whisky drinker to new, exciting flavour profiles and expressions.

We’re always altering our set up, allowing us to learn constantly. That’s still what we do every day, and will continue to do. While we’ve released some Kininvie casks to the market, we’re not tied down by set pressures to produce. This means, unlike other distilleries, we have plenty of time and freedom to focus on our experiments.

The Experiments


Objective: To investigate the influence continuously rousing spirit has on the organoleptic and analytical characteristics of new make whisky spirit.

Subject: The Influence of the Continuous Rousing of Spirit on the Characteristics of New Make Whisky Spirit.

Find out more:
Download the WhitepaperKV PDF v2

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Single Malt Experiment

Our objective: to investigate triple distillation mass balance used in Irish distillation processes.

New process parameters had to be defined in order to distil or produce a spirit through triple distillation. Using Spirit Still #5 as our extra Distillation point, we distilled the spirit three times (1 wash, 1 intermediate, 1 spirit) not the traditional 2 times (1 wash, 1 spirit). In order to do this, we set new cut points to build up low wines and feints before running one week’s production.

On comparing new make spirit samples, we noted that the alcoholic strength and esters were much higher in the final spirit cut than that of typical Kininvie spirit. The new make spirit was filled into several different cask types and the maturation profile of the spirit was monitored and periodically reviewed.

Whiskys using variations on this experiment


Kininvie process flow - double distillation

Kininvie process flow - triple distillation

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Single Grain Experiment

Our objective: to explore new flavour profiles by distilling malted rye using a traditional Scotch Whisky distillation process / look at the influence of Rye grain on the traditional Scotch Whisky distillation process.

Trying to think beyond traditional malted barley, we researched and sampled grain cereals from around the world in order to create an alternative Kininvie spirit. Whilst keeping the traditional Scotch Whisky processes the same, we investigated how the inclusion of malted rye into the mash bill alters – or enhances – Kininvie spirit.

Due to its use in American whiskies, we saw Rye as an interesting alternative. First we carried out lab-sized tests to understand challenges and parameters around:

  1. Grist analysis of Malted Rye
  2. Optimum Rye Malt Inclusion rate
  3. Potential processing challenges of Malted Rye/ Malted Barley mixtures – including the optimum starch gelatinisation temperature
  4. Yield potential of Malted Rye/ Malted Barley mixtures

Following successful outputs, we carried out the first plant trials in 2016, testing a 90/10 Barley to Rye ratio:

Malted Rye was supplied ready milled in 25kg bags. The introduction of the rye to the mash tun was a manual process, with each 25kg bag being added via the mash tun doors. To do this we enlisted help from surrounding distillery workers. The addition occurred at the same time as the malt grist is being mashed in, to make sure no contamination of other processes, and a homogenous mix of malt and rye grist.

To compensate for the high bran/ husk material found in Rye grist, we ground the malted barley component to have a high flour content – to help improve viscosity and filtration.

We distilled the spirit in traditional copper stills from a mash of rye and malted barley allowing the spirit to qualify as a Grain Whisky spirit. Maintaining a flavour profile more akin to a malt, new make spirit analysis showed elevated levels of fusel oils such as n-propanol & isobutanol.

Whiskys using variations on this experiment


kininvie distillation process

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Scotch Blend Experiment

Our objective: to create a Blended Scotch Whisky from a single distillery.

To experiment and find out if we could blend constituent Kininvie whiskies at our distillery, giving us exclusive control of all the variables in the blended spirit. (Blended Scotch Whisky is usually made by blending together both grain and malted barley whiskies sourced from different distilleries.)

Typical Scotch Blends have a high grain and low malt content. In this blend we used a higher proportion of malt for fruity, light, higher alcohols that act as a solid base, whilst the grain gives depth and spice. We weren’t expecting to source flavour in this way as it’s almost contrary to everything we know about blending.

Whiskys using variations on this experiment



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