Kilchoman Batch Strength & Cocktail Competition; The Glasgow Distillery Calvados Cask Finish; Cardrona The Falcon; Demeter Collection Auction

Hello everyone

For those to whom it‘s relevant we‘ve now got the Easter chocolate fest over and I hope a good time was had if you got to enjoy a break. I started writing this at home in Scotland but am completing it in Amsterdam. No rest for the wicked and all that.

Kilchoman‘s latest core range release, Kilchoman Batch Strength, popped up recently so we‘ll start with that one. It‘s at 57% abv and has been matured in bourbon and oloroso sherry wood as well as re-charred red wine casks. Quite the interesting combination.

Appearance: Clear, pale gold with lemon juice/Chablis tinted highlights.

Nose: It‘s that Islay sweaty wool sock again at first. Fresh hay notes; a touch of orange oil. Barley sweetness and finely woven peat smoke. Dark honey; soft toffee and icing sugar; damp wood. Water brings out salty sea air and softer, creamier and waxy notes. Plain potato crisps; caramel; warm spices – ginger, allspice, mace.

Palate: Slightly viscous mouthfeel. More richly smoky and toasted than on nose. Peat, barbecue/bonfire ash as it catches in the throat; smoked ham and salted caramel. Coffee ground bitterness and citrus pith/zest. A little oak vanilla and smoked honey.

Finish: Long, smoky and peated; rich char and toast.

This one is retailing at around £75 per 70cl bottle in the UK. In order to celebrate this new expression the distillery has launched the Shake the Farm cocktail competition with this as the key ingredient. They say,As a farm distillery, locally farmed ingredients are at our heart. That is why, this year, we are asking bartenders across the UK to create a cocktail that showcases our new Batch Strength release and one farmed or foraged British ingredient.

A set of easy rules:

  • Cocktails must contain a minimum of 25ml of Kilchoman Batch Strength whisky.
  • Drinks must not contain more than 6 ingredients (excluding garnish).
  • The use of homemade ingredients is greatly encouraged but not necessary.
  • The recipe must contain one British farmed or foraged ingredient.
  • Entries must be submitted before June 16th

The competition will take place in three different stages. First, participants will be asked to submit their recipe through the link below. Second, based on the creativity, expertise and choice of ingredients, participants will be selected for three heats across the UK.

The three heats will determine who will be our first Shake the Farm cocktail competition finalists (one per heat).

  • Edinburgh 15/07/2024
  • Manchester 17/07/2024
  • London 24/07/2024

The finalists will then be invited to Islay for an all-expenses paid hands-on apprenticeship at Kilchoman (September 9th – 12th). During these four days they will stay on the farm, learn all about distillery production and have a hand in making our single malt, finishing up by competing to become our first ever competition winner! The winner will get a chance to select an exclusive single cask bottling for UK on-trade and take six bottles of it home with them.“

So here is that link to the entry form: .

Good luck if you decide to enter.

As mentioned last time, a little surprise box arrived of 5 samples from The Glasgow Distillery, including 3 new expressions. I promised them I‘d write up my favourite of the new ones. No time so far to check out the tequila cask version (and I‘m not a fan of tequila as a spirit) but I did try the Calvados Cask Finish and the fully matured in Manzanilla casks (5 years old) because these latter casks had previously held peated single malt and that interested me. Although I did get an array of aromas and flavours, I‘m afraid it wasn‘t for me palate-wise.  Though the nose was pleasant, I thought the mouthfeel a bit thin too. Others may like it. Only 813 bottles were made available.

So Calvados Cask Finish it is. This one is 6 years old and bottled at 58.7% abv. For those unfamiliar with Calvados, it‘s a French apple spirit and often delicious. This bottling produced only 270 bottles from whisky initially matured in first fill bourbon wood and finished in calvados casks.

Appearance: Pale – medium gold grain stalks. Lemon juice highlights. Tears swift and close together.

Nose: Soft candy / icing sugar sweetness; sherbet lemons and citrus zest; light honey. Some vanilla and soft toffee. Some tropical fruit notes including papaya; barley sugar. With water, there‘s more barley sugar and sweet baked pear. Candied nuts.

Palate: Medium mouthfeel; touch of varnish (as if breathing its vapours open-mouthed); some oak and nuttiness. Slight citrus zest and some sweet spices; apple skins.

Finish: Short – medium length; citrussy, dry and lightly spiced.

Quite a light dram and I liked it but would like to try it again with longer maturation in both cask types just to see how it develops.

Now, also as previously mentioned, A bottle of Cardrona Distillery‘s The Falcon arrived some days after I had completed my interview with Desiree Reid, the distillery founder. It‘s the one she said she‘d want with her on a desert island. It was bottled in June 2023 at 52% abv and is a combination of 1 x ex-oloroso butt filled in March 2016, one x ex-bourbon barrel filled in May 2016 and 1 ex-pinot noir barrique filled in 2018.

Appearance: In bottle, a lovely rich amber with reddish cast. In glass, mellow amber with marmalade highlights. Tears very clingy and slow at first and close together.

Nose: Softly fruity; gentle toffee/caramel; fragrant oak – vanilla bean paste. Baked pear and apple; sweetly spiced – definitely allspice. Touch of brown sugar and earthen warehouse floor (even if there isn‘t one); powdered sugar.

With water, the spices are brought out a little more – certainly ground ginger. A hint of milk chocolate and maltiness. I was wondering if I‘d nose violet or truffle given the use of pinot noir cask but, no, not on this nosing. From the empty glass later, spices including ginger and some spicy florals.

Palate: Medium mouth weight. Warm, spicy and peppery. Sweet oak wood. Orange oil and earthy notes. A slight citrus bitterness. Spritzy on the tongue. Very smooth and well-integrated for its age.

Finish: Medium – long; soft, spicy and finishes dry with oak notes and a slight grassiness.

Definitely a pleasant dram and another one I‘d like to see with a little more age though there‘s much to be proud of here. The drawback for me is price. Yes, there was a limited amount with the bottle in a lovely bespoke wooden frame with a sliding „drawer“ at the top to hold the bottle in place (so simple and perfect), their production is more costly and it‘s had to travel a long way BUT UK pricing is around £175 per bottle. I‘d hope that as more stock in these cask types becomes available, that pricing will come down for any later version.

A lovely surprise just before I left for Amsterdam was a bottle of the Cardhu 12 Year Old bottled to celebrate the distillery‘s 200th birthday this year and the fact that it was kept going by women back in the 19th century and has had much involvement from women working there over its life. More on that one later this month.

Last mention this week is for the inaugural Demeter Collection auction I wrote about last time. Well, looks like it raised some £50,000 for the OurWhisky Foundation‘s work to help women in the whisky world. The bottle realising far and away the highest sum was the 44 year old Dalmore from Margaret Nicol at Whyte & Mackay. A great result and many congrats to the OurWhisky people and the whisky ladies who provided the bottles.

Till next time, happy dramming.




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