Until recently, Kilchoman was the newest distillery on Islay, and one that we’ve been following closely ever since our first sip of their Machir Bay expression during our second appearance on Mark Gillespie’s WhiskyCast Virtual Tasting, way back in June of 2012.
Over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to try many of Kilchoman’s expressions, as well as an independent bottling, and have never been disappointed, so when Impex Beverages (their US importer) reached out to us about their latest release, the Kilchoman STR Cask Matured, we didn’t hesitate to ask for a sample to review.
Here’s what Impex had to say about this whisky with the cryptic name:
A creation of the late Dr. Jim Swan, STR refers to a specific formula for the Shaving, Toasting, and Re-Charring of Red Wine Hogsheads. A total of 43 casks filled in 2012 were selected by Anthony Wills, Kilchoman’s founder and Managing Director, bottled at a strength of 50% abv without chill-filtration or coloring.
The process of shaving, toasting and re-charring has had a huge influence on these casks and the flavors this single malt possesses. Kilchoman released a full maturation Red Wine Cask release in 2016 which took on lots of the big and bold wine flavors. The STR cask, however, provides a different approach.
The shaving has reduced some of the bolder flavors on the surface of the oak, producing a more subtle red wine influence. The casks were then toasted and charred over a natural oak fire, fueled exclusively using oak chips from used staves, removing harsh tannins and undelivered flavors as well as breaking down unwanted chemical bonds of lignin, celluloses, and hemicelluloses, replacing these undesirable characteristics with the creation of basic sugars, vanilla, and spice notes.
Ya gotta love the innovation and ingenuity at play here, and if the STR is half as good as it sounds, then we most likely have yet another winning Kilchoman expression. Did this whisky live up to our expectations? The only way to find out is to hit the play button on the following video:
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