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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Kilchoman 14 year old 2006, cask 18 for Impex Beverages

(Kilchoman cluster homepage) 

We have indeed reached the day where there are FOURTEEN YEAR OLD KILCHOMANS. Impex Beverages Inc stuck their American meathooks into this 14 year old first-fill bourbon cask and hauled it to The States. It was, at the time of bottling, the oldest Kilchoman yet. (The Wills family have released one older cask since then.) That this was the 32nd cask Kilchoman ever filled, and was done so in April 2006, shows that production was slow going in 2005 and early 2006. With its solid outturn of 208 bottles and an ABV of 53%, the cask may have sacrificed only alcohol content to the angels. I've nothing else to add other than I don't know what to expect.

Region: Islay
Age: 14 years (12 Apr 2006 - 12 May 2020)
Maturationfirst-fill bourbon barrel
Barley: 50ppm, sourced from Port Ellen maltings
Cask #: 18/2006
Outturn: 208 bottles
Exclusive to: Impex Beverages Inc
Alcohol by Volume: 53%
Chillfilltered? No
Colorant added? No
(from a bottle split)

I have never gotten an Nutella note from a bourbon cask whisky, until now. Yes, the nose has a bundle of other nuts, like walnuts and pistachios, but Nutella sits up front. There are also dried apricots, green grapes, sesame oil and a little bit of honey. This is all very Mediterranean. Except perhaps for the Play-Doh note in the midground. Apples and honey take over when the whisky is reduced to 46%abv. Hints of sesame and nuts remain. A sort of a Korbel brandy note sits in the middle, along with a hint of sharp cheddar.

The palate reminds me of a ultra-minerally white wine, with an almost chalky terroir note. Fascinating. Bits of grapefruit here and there, backed by fruity and bitter smokes. Caramel chews in the background. Diluting the whisky to 46%abv makes it feel younger. There's more bitterness, smoke and cinnamon. Then a good dose of honey and a hint of Play-Doh.

It finishes with limes and minerals and minerals and limes. Just a smidge of smoke, a peppery smoke like a big Talisker. The diluted-to-46%abv finish nearly matches the palate, but improves on it with a better sweetness.

I've never had a whisky quite like this. And since there's a dearth of reviews of it online, I'm not sure if anyone else is in the same spot. The "Mediterranean" style of the neat nose works very well, while the neat palate makes this feel like the first-ever Kilchoman for summer weather. The diluted nose actually works, while the diluted palate doesn't, but that's not surprising considering the findings during this cluster. The solid quality (though not the style) reminds me of first release of Kilkerran 12yo. It may not top all of its younger siblings, but it has its own confident approach that should be taken seriously by fans and competitors.

I wouldn't have minded digging into a full bottle, but the price was beyond what I'd consider reasonable for 14 year old whisky. Yes, it's a "historical" bottling. But every year will bring at least another "historical" bottling, and thus the quotation marks will always remain.

Availability - Sold out, or mostly so
Pricing - $200-$240
Rating - 87

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