Those of us in the whisky world are always excited to see a new face on the scene, a new independent bottler perhaps, or even a new whisky society, so you can imagine the buzz generated by the emergence of the Single Cask Nation. Single Cask Nation is a new whisky society in the mold of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and offers its members exclusive access to independently bottled single casks. It was founded by three gentlemen, and I use that term loosely, named Joshua Hatton, Jason Johnstone-Yellin, and Seth Klaskin. Are these three qualified to start up new whisky society? The short answer is yes, both Joshua and Jason are whisky experts and knowledgeable fellow whisky bloggers themselves (Jewmalt and Guid Scotch Drink, respectively) and Seth apparently practices law. The long answer is a little trickier. Jason is actually Scottish, and while that could be considered by some (not me) a liability, when it comes to whisky, it’s always good to have a Scot on hand. However, he does have a tendency to fall asleep when surrounded by other whisky types (I have pictures). Joshua is actually Jewish, and while that’s all well and good, he’s also a musician. A bass player for god’s sake, he carries with him the shame of actually once suggesting to a renown straight edge punk band that they incorporate more of (and I quote) “The international largesse and fashion acumen of Ah-Ha” into their music. Seth, like I mentioned, apparently practices law, so we’ll just leave it at that.
“International largesse”…why would anyone?…nevermind…
So, as you can see, these men are more than qualified to not only set up such an endeavor but carry it out with style and aplomb. I should point out that I know these guys. My seething envy of their repeated trips to Scotland to look for whisky tempts me to behave unprofessionally, or at least even more unprofessionally than I’ve already been…but how can I? They’ve simply done a fantastic job setting this up and I look forward to wallowing in more seething envy at their inevitable continued success. The Single Cask Nation offers three membership levels, each one stuffed to the gills with terrific whisky paraphanelia to go along with their carefully chosen bottlings. This four year old Kilchoman, along with a 12 year old Pinot finished Arran, and a 17 year old BenRiach, make up the first three expressions made available to members. Aged in a re-fill bourbon barrel from Buffalo Trace, and of course, bottled at strength, this one yielded up 245 bottles to the lucky members of this exciting new whisky club.
The Nose: Not as Kilchoman-y (is that a word yet?) as one might expect, and with a nose that is rich and wise beyond its four years. Quite savory initially with nice, rounded peat, dry woodsmoke, wet beach, and damp old leather. Sweeter notes of lemon cream pie with toasted lemon meringue, and a banana split with warm, dark chocolate sauce (man, I must need dessert). Behind that are lesser notes of roasted nuts, vanilla bean and fresh cut wood. Less ashy than I’ve come to expect from Kilchoman, the baked, caramelized sweetness and savory notes combine for a subtle hint of barbecue sauce. A little water calms everything and makes it all feel a little lighter, adding as well a slight grassy quality.
The Palate: Oily mouthfeel with an early appearance by some zippy, slightly bitter lemon notes and a little burnt toffee, but that is quickly subsumed by a big swell of diesel-y, burnt-rubber peat and that ashy, charcoal-tinged smoke I was looking for. A little sweetness returns in the form of caramel and candied nuts, and a little wood influence in the form of bitter clove and vanilla, but they’re there mostly to balance that big, strong, yet surprisingly graceful wave of peat and smoke. Water makes the palate just delicious, integrating everything more by toning down that big burst of smoke, enhancing the sweeter elements, and rounding the youthful spice towards the end.
The Finish: Pleasantly long with charcoal and peat playing the biggest part while that caramelized nuttiness continues to smooth things out.
Thoughts: Excellent stuff. Not only is this the oldest Kilchoman I’ve tried yet, which isn’t really saying much, as they’ve all been pretty young, but it’s also the oldest seeming Kilchoman I’ve tried. Though the nose was missing some of the elements I’ve come to associate with the distillery, it was full of the complexity and depth you’d encounter in Islay whiskies 3 times its age. The palate showed more expected brash youthfulness, but balanced well against the unique nose. It was quite pleasant and surprisingly drinkable at strength and while I preferred the nose that way, the palate really shined with a bit of water. Nice Job by Single Cask Nation picking out a very complex, very interesting cask from this young, impressive distillery. Definitely recommended.
Single Cask Nation 2007 Kilchoman 4 Year Old, Islay