Kilchoman "K&L Exclusive" Single Red Wine Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (750ml) SKU #1303495

$99.99

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Tasting Notes

When the folks from Kilchoman approached us about doing a new private barrel selection, we were interested. There were two caveats, however. First off, we wanted the price to be at or less than $100 per bottle. With single casks of Kilchoman hovering between $120-$150 globally, our cask had to be a value in comparison. Secondly, we wanted something we had never tasted before; a whisky that stood outside the standard selections from Kilchoman and truly offered a new and unique profile. While we were skeptical that Islay's boutique farm distillery could deliver on those demands, they dug deep into their warehouse of odd balls and found us one of the most spectacular Kilchoman whiskies we've ever tasted. Aged full term in a red wine barrel, the resulting single malt drinks like a drier version of a Port-finished whisky, buffered by soft fruit on the entry but with a balance anchored in the spirit's smoky, peaty, briny Islay character. From front to back, this 60.3% cask strength specimen is a dynamo. The nose reveals dessert-like flavors of butterscotch and sweet pudding with subtle smoke, but the first sip dials up the peat and classic Islay intensity. At no point does the whisky's profile ever allude to its potent power; the sweetness from the wine influence plays like half-sherry/half-port, tempering the 120.6 proof and mellowing out the middle. The result is one of the most interesting and delicious Kilchoman whiskies we've yet tasted, which is exactly what we asked for.

Staff Reviews

  • Ryan Woodhouse
    By: Ryan Woodhouse
    5/5/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    I have long enjoyed the many different bottlings we have received from Kilchoman. Even when we first started working with them I was amazed by the depth of flavor and quality of such young whiskies. This latest single cask offering is taking things to a whole new level. David managed to get his hands on a whisky that was a first fill Bordeaux red wine barrel. This wasn't sloshed around a wine barrel for a week and called "Red Wine Finished"...nope - this spirit spent its entire life in a ex-Bordeaux cask soaking up all those dark fruit flavors, cedar, tobacco notes that mingle so well with the peat smoke aspect. In fact the red wine influence here seems to really mellow out the peat, wrapping it soft textures and flavors whilst still remaining ultimately savory and umami. The other thing that surprised me about this offering is that I had no issue drinking it straight even at the 60.3% cask strength! Really cool whisky and something quite different than previous expressions.
    Top Value!
  • Jeffrey Jones
    By: Jeffrey Jones
    5/4/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    This is an experiment in using an alternative cask for aging rather than the usual used Bourbon or Sherry barrels and it really turns out to be an absolute success. In the nose it is what one would expect with smoke and sea notes. In the mouth it is complex with layers of smoke , sea and a round soft richness with hints of spice and fruit. This is both interesting and a delicious variation of an Islay Single Malt.
  • Andrew Stevens
    By: Andrew Stevens
    5/4/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    Earlier this year we had an offering from Hepburn's Choice that was a young Coal Ila finished in wine casks. I really enjoyed that whisky, but I always told people it was a bit of a geeks whisky, good but more fun than finesse. I suppose I had that in mind when I went to taste the new offering from Kilchoman just for us, I was so very wrong, and I am so very happy to have been wrong. Where the Caol Ila had some funky red fruit notes this has seamless integration of whisky and flavoring from the Bordeaux cask. Big rich smoke and spice immediately in the nose are followed up and incredibly complex mix of spiced citrus, BBQ coals, salty caramel and smoke. The finish, OMG the finish, super long and good and all of the words. So yeah I bought a bottle, because I was not about to not buy a bottle after that.
  • Andrew Whiteley
    By: Andrew Whiteley
    5/2/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    I've found myself going back to this bottle multiple times over the last two days. It's extraordinarily balanced and integrated and seems to demand you take another taste. The briny, salty, smoky nose is alluring. It's got caramel and butterscotch, but also citrus and spice. Remarkably, the red fruits I expected to find sitting on top of the whisky like so many red wine finished bottles are difficult to pick out. This is the beauty of the full term in the Bordeaux barrel. It's folded into the whisky so well. Bottled near the 120 proof mark you might also expect this to be a hot bruiser, but even without water, it's very drinkable. If you're on the fence, ask yourself the following questions: Do you love Islay whisky? Do you love unique and well crafted whisky that shows artistry and grace? Do you love the flexibility cask strength whisky gives you, the drinker? And last, do you love an outrageously good deal? For under $100 bucks, this is a steal. If you answered yes to these questions. Don't hesitate, we just have the one cask.
  • David Driscoll
    By: David Driscoll
    5/2/2017
    K&L Staff Member
    Tasting this as a barrel sample, I had to call the distillery and tell them I needed the whisky at cask strength! They told me: "David, it's at full proof: 60.3%." I couldn't believe it. I've tasted sherry barrels where the sweetness from the Oloroso wine masked the power of the alcohol, but never have I seen that happen with a red wine barrel. Simply put, this is one of the most delicious and dangerously drinkable Kilchoman's I've had the pleasure to taste. Islay's smallest distillery has long been releasing beautifully concentrated and polished single malt expressions, but few have had the richness and the balance exhibited by this single barrel release. The red fruits from the wine barrel never taste like a gimmick or some odd attempt at creating something new. Everything about this whisky is integrated, just in a way I can't say I've ever experienced. Simply put, you should buy this whisky because it's absolutely delicious. But if you're an explorer and an experimenter of Scotch whisky, this is also one of the most unique offerings I've tasted in some time.

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