The early winter is the most unforgiving time in the Nordics. The temperatures drop, occasionally you get snow, hale or just chilling rain. The wind blows your hair off, and sun is a seldom seen sight. The night arrives early and the day wakes up late. This is the time, when you desire light of many candles, warm stove and drinks that make you feel good. This is a great time to taste different drams and spend time within your castle. I admit, that while I do enjoy the different seasons the long late autumn is the least welcome. Once the snow covers the ground and more chilling temperatures freeze your chin – that’s when the moon and the stars start their winter song too. Meanwhile, I better get into that dram already.
Kilchoman, the newcomer (founded 2005) in Islay distilleries who has brought me lots of nice tastes and experiences. While they don’t have too old drams available yet, they’re getting there. And I must say I’ve liked their drams since 2010. There is just something special about their smoke and feel. This is their first official Cask Strenght release, not counting Club releases. This is their first batch that has been name Kilchoman Original Cask Strength. Distilled 2009, bottled 2014. This is 5 years old stuff that has been vatted from 35 ex-bourbon barrels. 9200 bottles. The good stuff.
Tempered to the mild strength of 59.2% this has a power in it’s nose that will open British dragon’s scent receptors for good. This one kicks good, not faking anything or holding back. If you survive the kick, you will find out about it’s sweetness and peat. There isn’t much smoke in my smoke-o-meter, but I grant that my meter does not read the low levels.
The palate is like a Dragon’s fiery breath that has been accompanied by blaster fire by fanous storm troopers. It hacks your so, that you will get a few flesh wounds – but as we know: it does not matter, since we can enjoy it and take some more. Sweet peat with smoke and fire finally emerge. There are citrus fruits and bard songs, merry dance of pixies where the dragon performs the ballet solo while the maori storm troopers chant in the choir. Yes, it does create confusion and complex feelings. But it is art, so it is a good thing. On the third sip the dragon’s breath calms and psychedelic experiences settle for a terrific smoke and fire, with peaty sweetness and fruits in it. This one has layers and different stories to tell.
The finish is long, tasty and really oily. The smoke is different than what I’ve used to with Kilchoman, but it is still a real good one. Balanced (once you get past the start) and fulfilling also defined this one really well.
I would have thought this would have been really different. You can easily think that “oh, just a ex-bourbon matured – lots of vanilla and not much else besides the smoke” and you would be extremely wrong about it. This is nothing like that. This is a splendid Kilchoman and a extremely good Scotch from Islay. Grab it by it’s horns and fight it – you will enjoy the battle!