Kilchoman K&L Exclusive 100% Islay Single Bourbon Barrel #345 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml (Previously $110)
While we all finally know and agree that Kilchoman is making some of the most serious single malt whisky on the planet, their 100% Islay selections present a very different flavor profile than their standard Port Ellen-malted distillates. Our two casks of Kilchoman we purchased last year were (and still are) two of the best Islay whiskies I've ever tasted, with a pronounced peatiness, big bold Red Hot cinnamon spice, and the drive of character they bring all the way to the finish. The 100% Islay whiskies, made from barley grown at Rockside Farm next door to the distillery, are an entirely different animal, however. Those who say "the grain doesn't matter" should taste these whiskies side by side. The self-malted mash is entirely less smoky and the resulting whisky is much more grainy, tangy, and pure than what Kilchoman normally releases. They show a sense of place that, to us, is unrivaled in the single malt world. Cask #345 is the peatier of the two barrels, but not by much. It's loaded with pure barley goodness on the front end--a type of clean barley flavor that you would think the peat and smoke would obliterate, but in this case it isn't overpowered. The smoke comes on the mid-palate and is followed by pure flavors of peat moss and salty tang, with a finish that is big, but not bombastic. It's more evidence to the fact that we're dealing with serious whisky makers here. More importantly, whisky makers who care about terroir. This is Islay whisky.