Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kilchoman Port Cask Matured 2014 : a shiny medicine to ease the surprise of the first snow

September. The month when the new Kilchoman was released! On the sidetrack, Finland got it’s first snow today. In September! The winter may have taken a few too many drams, since it arrived early this year. No, the snow won’t last but this is really exceptional. And thus, it is a good reason to uncap the new Kilchoman dram! This time it’s red. Like a ruby red.

20140923-20140923100403-IMG_0891_smallWhat should we expect? Some of the people say that Kilchoman can’t be really good with port maturation. And on the other hand, in some Finnish forum, there was a debate that what is the port cask maturation anyway? It seems that ages ago the oak casks were used during shipment of port wine into England, instead of actually maturing the wine in the casks. Apparently port wine and casks don’t mix really well, and port wine is usually produced in different kinds of barrels that are not wood. I don’t know the process, but the speculation seems to be that the port wine maturation actually means that oak casks are filled with a cheap port wine first and then – after a huge hangover perhaps – the casks are used to finish or mature the whisky. So it would be a artificial way to make this kind of whisky, since the logistics don’t take as long as a hundred years ago. Perhaps somebody who knows the answer might actually comment how this is actually done. I wonder if this is going to be the next new series that they’ll produce in addition to Machir Bay, 100% Islay and Loch Gorm.

20140923-20140923180117-IMG_0994_smallThe facts. It is Kilchoman, bottled at 55% and the batch was 6000 bottles. Yes, I am glad I got my hands onto one full bottle this time. It is matured in ruby port casks  for three years and that’s it. Apparently the distillery experimented with different casks and maturation periods and found out that three years was good in this time. 

The color is exceptional. I really like the fresh redness, the ruby-style color that is very vibrant. Red wine and port finishing tend to give out something relatively new to the dram. It is not the everyday cotton coat, it is something that will stand out and make a statement. Also it is very fresh and not gloomy or dark. A similar contrast as a red grapefruit has after eating a lots of ..chicken.

The nose is fresh too. There are fruits and the well known Kilchoman smoke is very nicely present too. Spices mix with some peat. The nose is really good, I think. It has the character and width, but it does not try to drop you off your chair. Elegant and sophisticated surface, raw angry bear is contained but if you look it into eyes – you know are dealing with forces that do not temper themselves.

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The palate mixes bared claws with sweet satin. You can easily get wounded, but with one smooth movement that sears through the bones. But you will get a silk bandage. The second strike reveals more sweet port, spices and lemon, smokiness and floral (red roses?) experience. Tough and beautiful, like a ruby. Nuts combined with citrus that gets tempered with sweetness. More sips and the mouth gets warmed up and is ready to experience the bear wearing satin gloves. The palate is into my liking a lot. This is sweet, but smoky and has a wide broad taste that carries on into a finish really well.

The Port Cask lasts and lasts, it has a nice and long finish that will give you a great experience to talk about. Smokiness (yeah!) and oak vanilla are the primary elements in the finish.

And this is just three years old dram! I didn’t really know what to expect, since some people had high doubts about mixing Kilchoman with the port. I am glad I did not listen to them, but hoped for the mastery of distiller’s staff. This does not feel a bit like three years old, instead this one challenges a lots of older drams. It has enough bite and claw to make it hard to ignore and enough royalty to make it noted with respect. In short, I enjoy this one.

There should be one more dram, that is going to be released by Kilchoman during this year. The Cask Strength. While Port Cask was also a CS (55%) and I’ve had a few single casks of Kilchoman, I must say that I am waiting for the upcoming release. I would be surprised, if there would not be something special about it.

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