Okay, after two red wine-bothered Kilchomans (here and here), it’s time for something completely different. This Kilchoman received an 8 month mezcal finish after 7 years of maturation in a Buffalo Trace Barrel. No word on what the mezcal was. I assume that’s the next step in cask hyper-detail: what brand of mezcal, what type of agave and so on. Or maybe not. At any rate, I am pretty sure this is the first mezcal-bothered whisky I’ve yet had. Now, I have had and reviewed a mezcal that received a bourbon cask finish, but this, I’m pretty sure is a first for me. As to how many other mezcal-finished whiskies there are floating about in the world, I have no idea. If you know or have had others, please write in below. Of course, I do often find mezcal’ish notes in young whiskies—and, indeed, have found them in young peated Islay whiskies in particular. These notes are associated in my palate with youth. Does that mean this mezcal finished whisky will register as younger than 7 years (itself not a very ripe old age) on my palate? Let’s see.
Kilchoman 7, 2013, ImpEx Cask Evolution (55.3%; cask 670/2013; mezcal finish; from a bottle split)
Nose: No big mezcal notes jump out but oddly nor does any big phenolic peat. Let’s give it a minute. Okay, now here come those mezcal notes I often get in young Kilchoman even when no mezcal cask has been involved. Alright, there’s more of the prickly pear and pepper as it breathes and now this does nose closer to the mezcal than the whisky end of the continuum. With water it seems to get sweeter with more vanilla and some malt mixed in with the smoke
Palate: Comes in with phenolic peat and salt and then there’s a burst of fruit as I swallow that’s more in line with mezcal character (lime, a teasing flash of passionfruit). Approachable at full strength; good texture. The peat expands as it sits and now it seems more like a regulation peated whisky; some vanilla and cereal in there too. Okay, let’s see what happens with a few drops of water. It pulls out some more of the lime and salt.
Finish: Long. The smoke (ashier now) and salt and pepper get the final word. As on the palate with time and water.
Comments: I liked this better than the STR finish but I can’t say I really get the point of the mezcal finish. It doesn’t really register very much and where it does it’s mostly with crossover notes anyway. Well, water does accentuate the mezcal notes and if that’s what you’re interested in, I’d suggest adding some. Okay, I’m glad I tried this trio of weirdos but regular bourbon cask Kilchoman is still where it’s at as far as I am concerned.
Rating: 85 points.