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KINGSBARNS DISTILLERY WRITTEN BY MARGARETT WATERBURY

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oocot. That’s Scots for dovecot, which is English for what we Americans would call a pigeon house. It’s not a feature most distilleries have, but Kingsbarns Distillery in eastern Fife, Scotland, is a little different. Just like the United States, Scotland is going through a spirits boom. Consumers are buying more spirits, exports are up, and interest in previously under-the-radar categories (hello, gin) is at a high keen. But unlike the U.S., Scotland’s spirits industry wasn’t totally crushed by Prohibition, which means the U.K. is still home to more than 100 functioning distilleries, many predating not only Prohibition, but the invention of electricity. Although there are now many fewer distilleries in the United Kingdom than the United States, Scotland hasn’t been

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PHOTOGRAPH PROVIDED BY KINGSBARNS DISTILLERY

immune to startup fever. During the latter half of the 20th century, many more Scottish distilleries closed their doors than opened them, but the last decade has brought unprecedented investment in new production facilities, brands, and distillery expansions. One of the newest distilleries in Scotland is Kingsbarns Distillery, founded in 2014. It gets its name from its location, the town of Kingsbarns, which sits on the north side of the Firth of Forth, a deep bay on Scotland’s east coast. It’s a bucolic, serene world apart from the narrow grey streets of Edinburgh, all rolling fields of barley interspersed with hedgerow-lined lanes and the odd stone wall. Fife has traditionally been one of the primary grain-growing regions in Scotland, but until recently, it had no distilleries.

Instead, it has golf. Kingsbarns is just a few miles down the road from St. Andrews, the town where golf was purportedly first played 600 years ago. You can still play on the St. Andrews Old Course, but be prepared to plan ahead—tee times are now booked through October of 2018. For those who don’t make the cut, the Kingsbarns Golf Course provides an appealing alternative, and it’s also where the story of Kingsbarns Distillery begins. Co-founder Douglas Clement used to work as a caddie on the Kingsbarns Golf Course. Every game he caddied, somewhere around hole 17, players would ask him: “So, where’s the whisky around here?” And every time, he was forced to explain that Fife was sadly bereft of distilleries. One day, he decided to take matters into his own hands and convinced

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Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  
Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.