Fridays are always a frantic time over at Caskstrength towers. The once clear dining room table is by and large reduced to a state of annihilation. Bottles sit half drunk, last night's sampling Glencairns need washing up and piles of notes/ press releases and general marketing gumph need filing in the circular file.
So it is all the more refreshing when you have a bottle that has sat there quietly, waiting for its chance to be opened when all the melee has died down.
This week's happens to be a sample bottle of Kilchoman - a single bourbon cask from 2007.
We had been expecting a sample of the Summer Release, which went on sale last week, so this was a complete surprise. All being well, we'll be able to bring you notes of this in a few days, but for now, settle back back and enjoy something else from this cracking new distillery. I have no idea if it's ever destined to see the light of day, but lets hope so...
Kilchoman - Single Bourbon Cask - Cask No. 114/07 - 62.2% abv - 50ppm
Nose: Crisp, with some earthy tones rising immediately to the fore, backed up with a wholesome, malty peat aroma. It is so very different to the peat aromas of other Islay distilleries, lacking the iodine/brine of the Port Ellen trio. This is more aromatic coffee, with a large measure of frothy milk and a couple of complimentary Werther's Originals thrown in for good measure.
Palate: As one would expect from a whisky at 62%... it is hot and very spiky. But a little sharp lemon sherbet rises through, alongside some coal-dusted malt. Water makes the mouthfeel a little softer, like biting into a chocolate with some gooey vanilla caramel in the middle, but there is still a feisty, peppery peat wanting to kick your tonsils in at the slightest ill-advised look. Think Begbie from Trainspotting holding a box of Milktray and you're close to what this feels like in the mouth.
Finish: The coffee of the nose returns (sans milk) and that's when you start to realise there's some magic at work here- the coal dust makes a black-handed grab for your tongue and also a hint of something sweet but definitely earthy which outlasts all the other flavours. I'm thinking carrots freshly pulled from the garden... (which reminds me, Mrs Caskstrength asked me to water the veg patch and I totally forgot...oops)
Overall: It's hard to dislike anything that Kilchoman is putting out at the moment. The single cask which was released for this year's Feis Ile (incidentally, the sister cask to this) had youth, fire and intensity, backed up by enough sweetness, peat and maturity to warrant a second helping. This is virtually the same, albeit maybe slightly more manic at first. Give it a little time in the glass (with water) and then it starts to come to life.