Upstart farm distillery Kilchoman has added a new single malt to its permanent portfolio, next to one of my favorites, Machir Bay. Kilchoman specializes in pristine craft peated malt that is remarkable for being excellent at a young age – like 3 or 4 years young. Like Machir Bay, this is partially sherry-aged. In Sanaig’s case, it’s an extra 10 months of aging in oloroso sherry casks.
This NAS (no-age-statement) bottling combines Ardbeg from ex-bourbon casks with a “heart” of Ardbeg finished in “dark sherry” casks. No details on how they’re defining “dark sherry” (or “heart” for that matter), but the Internet has decided this means heavily-seasoned sherry casks. The result is bottled without chill-filtration at 46.5% ABV.
This Travel Retail 700ml bottle, with no age statement, arrives with basically no information on its label about its make-up or provenance. The Internet has revealed that it is comprised of both ex-sherry (the majority) and ex-bourbon casks, and bottled at Distillery Manager Bob Dalgarno’s preferred strength of 42.8% ABV. … In an effort to harken back to traditional styles of single malt scotch, Bob sourced some barrels of Macallan distilled from the now-defunct Golden Promise strain of barley. While the bottle does not state an age, it is (according to Bob) comprised of Macallan aged 12 years and up, with “some much older”.
Okay so this is very pleasant single malt whisky. It is light and airy, vibrant and youthful (in a good way), and with an array of flowers and fruits that scream “Springtime!” while never becoming cloying, bitter, or overbearing. That said, this is no sherry-bomb. There are no dense red fruits, figs, currants, resin, or anything else commonly associated with the older sherried malts.
I got a batch of samples from Exclusive Malts’ new 2015 releases… These bottlings tend to go quickly and aren’t widely distributed to begin with, so if you’re interested in any of these… well, it may already be too late. Oops.
Tùsail was made from a batch of floor-malted (by hand) Marris Otter winter barley, distilled and aged for an unspecified length of time in ex-bourbon casks. It was bottled at 46% ABV without chill-filtration and retailed for $99 (it’s probably all sold out by now).
The Fine Oak series, launched in 2004, offered a look at Macallan with some of the sherry stripped away. Like The Balvenie DoubleWood, the Fine Oak series is a marriage of traditional Macallan matured in ex-sherry casks, with Macallan distillate aged in ex-bourbon.
Who knew this was going to be a sherry-bomb? Sherry notes that I’d associate with a 20+ year-old sherried malt, meaty and resinous. The peat is nowhere to be found, or so outperformed by the sherry that it instead melds into the background. I would recommend this to sherry buffs, especially those who enjoy the meaty/rancio side of the sherry spectrum.
While it pales in a side-to-side comparison with classical sherry-aged Mortlach like the G&M 15 year, this Murray bottling stands on its own with a very pleasing combination of roasted/toasted/meaty flavors and without cloying sweetness on the palate.
A stately, refined example of sherried Mortlach. Something about this distillery speaks of the Scotland of yore. Having never experienced the Scotland of yore, I can only assume it’s the combination of excellent sherry casks with the meaty, oily, rough-around-the-edges malt of Mortlach that gives me the impression.