Single-Cask Saturdays – Kilchoman Distillery, 2013 Mezcal Finish, RMW Exclusive
The third instalment of ‘Single-Cask Saturdays‘ is on something a little bit different. Firstly, in comparison to our first two features, this single-cask was bottled directly by the distillery. Secondly, in 2019 the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) relaxed the rules regarding what type of casks a whisky could be matured in and still considered Scotch Whisky. This has meant that more experimental cask types – like Mezcal! – were suddenly on the table.
So… introducing the Kilchoman Mezcal Finish single cask, bottled exclusively for Royal Mile Whiskies.
Founded by the Wills Family in 2005, Kilchoman was the first distillery to be build on Islay in over 120 years. A farm-to-bottle production, with a 100% Islay philosophy, they produce Scotland’s only Single Farm Single Malt Whisky. The Kilchoman Distillery is still very much a family affair, with husband and wife Anthony and Kathy the masterminds behind the vision. Whilst their sons occupy various roles within the Sales and Marketing teams.
They have a core range of four expressions: Machir Bay, Sanaig, Loch Gorm, and 100% Islay and have developed a cult-following for their limited editions and experimental finishes and maturations. All their whisky is non-chill filtered, of natural colour, and often bottled at strengths in excess of 46% ABV.
Royal Mile Whiskies
Opened in 1991 on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Royal Mile Whiskies are a world renowned specialist whisky retailer. They occasionally release exclusive limited edition whiskies under the Royal Mile Whiskies title.
Bottled at 55.5% ABV as with other Kilchoman whisky, this is non-chill filtered and of natural colour. Spending the last nine of months of it’s life in a Mezcal cask from Oaxaca; this pretty unique expression pairs two different types of smoke to make the ultimate smoky whisky.
Cask Number: 671/2013
Bottle Number: 33 of 243
Cask Type: Mezcal (Oaxaca) finish
Initially we had our eyes on the Tequila Finish single-cask released directly from Kilchoman, however, we’re definitely happy that we got our hands on this one instead. Big fans of agave based spirits, it feels like a privilege to see how these two smoke types combined. Slightly more expensive than the first two features on this list – £89.95 – we very much feel that this was worth the cost.
Nose: smoke is immediate, both peaty and something a bit sweeter, there is also typical Kilchoman notes of salty air, citrus zest, it is fresh and surprisingly light
Palate: initial smoke gives away to natural sweetness, lots of honey, like chewing on sugar cane, citrus notes are again present, vanilla develops
Finish: mouth feels like when you breathe in cold air after a warm drink – almost menthol – sweet smoke develops nicely, hints of liquorice
So it goes without saying that if you’re not a fan of smoke then this won’t be the dram for you. However, if you LOVE smoke then definitely keep your eyes peeled for Mezcal finishes in the future. The agave spirit finish adds something that can only be described as ‘green’ to the taste. A fresh sweetness, with just a hint of dryness, that really transforms the smoky element of this expression.
This is one of our favourite casks of 2021 because it is experimental, new, and pretty unique. The changes of the SWA rules are opening the world of whisky to new flavours and we are here for it. A combination of two of our favourite spirit types – this does not disappoint. Perfect throughout the year; as a warmer of evenings, and celebratory dram!
We’ll be keeping our eyes open for more experimental finishes from Kilchoman, but also other tequila and mezcal finishes across the industry. We feel there is lots of special flavours to be discovered from the marriage of these spirits, and can’t wait to see what is developed. Let us know in the comments what you make of the SWA rule change in 2019!