Kilchoman Unveils Expression Aged in Re-Charred Wine Barrels

By Katelyn Best / May 20, 2019

Kilchoman has unveiled a new limited-edition release called Kilchoman STR Cask Matured, an expression that uses wine barrels in an interesting way.

Rather than simply finishing this single malt in used wine barrels, the distillery used wine barrels that had been through a process called shaving, toasting, and re-charring, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: the inside of the staves is partially shaved down, then toasted and charred with oak chips themselves made from used barrel staves.

Kilchoman STR Cask Matured

Kilchoman STR Cask Matured (image via Kilchoman)

In a prepared statement, the distillery writes that “these processes remove harsh tannins and undelivered flavours and break down unwanted chemical bonds such as lignin, celluloses and hemicelluloses, replacing them with sugars, vanilla and spice notes”—which, if you’re much of a bourbon drinker, should sound awfully familiar, as it’s those same chemical reactions that give American whiskeys their distinctive flavor profile.

This whisky pushes the envelope on scotch in an interesting way, as the spirit is almost always aged in used barrels. Does a barrel that’s been refurbished in this way act more like a new barrel, or a used one?

According to those behind it, it sounds as if it’s somewhere in the middle. “The STR cask balances influence from both the new and used oak to create a powerful combination of rich fruit, oak, spice and maritime peat smoke,” said Anthony Wills, Kilchoman founder and managing director.

43 casks of this whisky have been aging since 2012, and the expression was bottled at 50% ABV. It will retail in the UK for around £80, or close to $105 USD. Bottles are also set to be on sale in Europe and other parts of the whisky drinking world shortly.

The distillery’s tasting notes are below:

Nose: Summer fruits with a hearty measure of cinnamon spice, toffee and gentle peat smoke.

Palate: Soft caramel at first with layers of red berries, lemon tart and earthy peat smoke.

Finish: Long with a pronounced spice, honey and caramel notes.