I hate to gloat, especially since friends and family back in the Midwest received an early snow this past weekend, complete with power KO’ing fury and wet, slushy stuff that I’m sure made driving fun, but we’ve had an exceptional past several days here in San Francisco. Sunny, temps in the mid-70’s, not much wind…in a word, Summery…in mid-November. I’m not sure how much longer it’s going to last, soon it will be 48 degrees and misty for about three months, so you’d better come and visit soon (don’t call me, though, I’m busy doing something). If the weather’s not reason enough, one of the best whisky shops in town (curiously named The Whisky Shop) has a very special Kilchoman available…
At the recent Signatory tasting with Ed Kohl, one of the bonus drams of the night was this Single Cask Release from Kilchoman, bottled exclusively for San Francisco’s The Whisky Shop. There are only a handful of retailers out there getting their mitts on this kind of thing, so it was a great opportunity to check out a young, brazen Islay whisky, straight from the barrel. Aged for a little more than three years in a bourbon cask, this expression is limited to approximately 270 bottles.
The Nose: Ashy, tobacco smoke mixed with complex burnt rubber peat. Lemon creme and slight raisin-y, almost plum jam fruit notes. Very young, high volume and attacking…but, really, what did you expect from a heavily peated, three and a half year old whisky?
The Palate: Yeah, this one goes really big. Smoke & ashiness get you right away, but a nice sweetness emerges, a carmelized almost baked fruit note. Towards the end, that blackened peat which has been loitering in the background a bit comes forward with purpose and more smoke to really overwhelm things.
The Finish: Ashy, smokey, peaty…strong. The cask strength helps this young one linger for a bit.
Thoughts: With a bit of water, the ashy quality is tempered somewhat and the fruit sweetness comes forward a bit more but is also softened. Water does calm it down, but also takes some of the fun out of it. I love the aggressive youth…
Just like the 2010 Summer Release, this is a very young, but a very sound whisky. There’s more smoke and ash in this cask than in the Summer Release, and perhaps a bit more fruit, but with all that peat and smoke, the fruit is content to sit in the background. Like all of Kilchoman’s releases so far, this is a very impressive young whisky. It would be tough to choose between the 2010 Summer Release and this one, the cask strength and heavier smoke and peat make it perhaps more interesting, while the former is a bit more “drinkable”. Definitely worth looking in to, this is an excellent, small, unique bottling from a small unique distillery at a unique time in their history.