Islay Scotch whisky maker Kilchoman recently launched the first of its limited-edition cask expressions for 2023.
A statement from Kilchoman explains that the vattings for both Cognac Cask Matured and Fino Sherry Cask Matured took place in March, with casks being tasted and hand selected by Founder Anthony Wills and Robin Bignal at Islay’s Kilchoman Distillery site.
The Cognac Cask Matured is a vatting of 32 Cognac casks that came from Tonnellerie Bossuet in France. The 2023 limited edition features Kilchoman’s heavily peated spirit maturing in those Cognac casks for a minimum of six years.
During its maturation, the distiller noted, the whisky captured the herbaceous, sweet spice from the Cognac casks which balanced with their citrus-fruit led spirit, allowing the maritime Kilchoman peat smoke to come through.
“The limited-edition cask exploration editions allow us to experiment with our spirit here at Kilchoman,” said Wills, Kilchoman’s founder. “There is a delicate balance to be found when working with Cognac casks; keeping the age of this release at a minimum of six years old ensures the flavors from the spirit and the cask are easily detected, neither dominates.”
He explained that Cognac is a variety of brandy, produced from a distilled white wine. Cognac must be twice distilled (using copper pot stills) and aged for a minimum of two years in French oak barrels (typically Limousin).
The Cognac casks used at Kilchoman were purchased from Bossuet Cooperage in France, originating from a single Cognac house.
The 2023 Fino Sherry Cask Matured limited edition is a vatting of 20 Fino Sherry Butts, previously used by Bodega Jose y Miguel Martin in Spain.
The Kilchoman whisky matured for a minimum of five years in Fino, and during that maturation, it developed a dry salinity. The distiller noted that this is balanced with a green fresh fruit influence and long, delicate peat smoke.
“The Fino Sherry maturation works incredibly well with our classic Kilchoman character,” Wills said. “The 2023 release elevates the fragrant green apple, stewed fruits and sweet citrus while allowing for the unmistakable Kilchoman peat smoke to linger on the palate. Fino is another example of sherry casks working together, not against, our Kilchoman spirit.”
He explained that Fino is a light, dry type of Sherry, originating from the Jerez region in southern Spain. It comes from the Palomino grape variety, more delicate than Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez.
The casks used during this aging process are American oak butts, which are stored using the traditional solera system in the bodega. The average maturation sits between four and seven years.
“When using these casks at Kilchoman for maturing our spirit, flavor profiles of yeast, dough and almonds can easily be identified while also providing a rich saline profile with hints of fresh herbs,” Wills added.
Cognac & Fino Cask Matured are now available globally in select retailers.
For more information, check out www.kilchomandistillery.com.