Kilchoman 100% Islay Single Cask is an ex-bourbon barrel pick selected by my favorite liquor store K&L and is the first time I haven’t been in love with one of their picks. But that’s the gamble of single casks. They can be the most amazing representation of a whisky or they can be the worst. At least 90% of the time they’re going to be awesome, but that 10% does sneak in and slap you from time to time.
In K&L’s Words: Kilchoman 100% Islay Single Cask
“While we all finally know and agree that Kilchoman is making some of the most serious single malt whisky on the planet, their 100% Islay selections present a very different flavor profile than their standard Port Ellen-malted distillates. Our two casks of Kilchoman we purchased last year were (and still are) two of the best Islay whiskies I’ve ever tasted, with a pronounced peatiness, big bold Red Hot cinnamon spice, and the drive of character they bring all the way to the finish.
The 100% Islay whiskies, made from barley grown at Rockside Farm next door to the distillery, are an entirely different animal, however. Those who say “the grain doesn’t matter” should taste these whiskies side by side. The self-malted mash is entirely less smoky and the resulting whisky is much more grainy, tangy, and pure than what Kilchoman normally releases. They show a sense of place that, to us, is unrivaled in the single malt world.
Cask #344 starts off with a grainy note, a blast of pure barley that tastes like your actually chewing the husk, but then moves into a mezcal-like tanginess and a more savory profile. The campfire smoke comes towards the finish, which comes clean and quickly; frightening your mouth into thinking it’s about to get blasted, but leaving it with a pure flavor of ash, sweet barley, and mossy peat. It’s more evidence to the fact that we’re dealing with serious whisky makers here. More importantly, whisky makers who care about terroir. This is Islay whisky.”
There’s nothing else I could possibly add, so on to the Kilchoman 100% Islay Single Cask review.
Kilchoman 100% Islay Single Cask Info
Region: Islay, Scotland
Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon ex-Pedro Ximenez
Age: 4 Years
Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color
Kilchoman 100% Islay Single Cask Review
Clay-like mineral heavy aroma with bits of honey, peat, acetone, baking flour, olive oil, sage and a light bit of soap.
Mineral heavy palate, with some peat, honey, fruit, walnuts, acetone, powdered sugar and a touch of sage and citrus.
Long fade of peat, minerals, citrus, toffee, soap and sage.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Not well balanced, round full body and a heavy chalky feel.
I would honestly rather drink their new make than this particular Kilchoman 100% Islay Single Cask. It has an aggressive minerality that makes me think more of a mezcal than of an Islay Scotch, but not a very good mezcal. The saving grace are the underlying complexities beneath the intense minerality that make this drinkable, but not exactly desirable as it comes together harshly.
Water enhances the minerality on the aroma while on the palate it lessens it a tad and allows a bit of cocoa and more citrus to show up, but not enough to be a redeeming quality. This is a rare miss for Kilchoman and an even rarer miss for K&L whose single cask picks I usually enjoy immensely. But hey, no one hits 100% all the time and even though I’m not a fan of this particular Kilchoman 100% Islay Single Cask I’ve had plenty of others that have been delicious. In fact, I think I’ll go drink one of those right now.
SCORE: 79/100 (C+)