Feb 24th, 2023 Reminiscing on a dinner cooked in December when the temperatures were more conducive to outdoor open fire cooking and remembering how delectable that pairing was with the Bordeaux and our Compass Box Glasgow blend pick with both beef and chicken. Hanging in there for another month before winter is officially over and let the festivities begin again.
Last summer I was enroute to Campbeltown for Springbank Whisky School 2022. Enroute, I detoured to Islay for a few days, specifically to check on my Kilchoman Single Cask pick. As it turned out, my timing was impeccable in that I was visiting the Kilchoman Distillery on Friday June 10th and my cask happened to be in Warehouse 1 where barrels are sent to be bottled. I got to taste it one last time before it got bottled on June 14th, 2022.
What a glorious taste it was! A much fuller palate and lingering finish compared to when I selected the barrel in earlier February. The nose of lemon citrus zest with vanilla coming from the ex-bourbon cask was followed by the palate full, sweet and creamy like custard, with salted caramel. The finish had a hint of black pepper and light briny peat with sweetness returning and hanging on for what seemed like an eternity.
Kilchoman has been a brand I have been very impressed with my first taste of the 2007 100% Islay edition and I never thought I’d ever get a single cask of it. I’m looking forward to James Wills’ visit on March 7th, 2023 at Canterbury Liquors, for a meet and greet with an adoring crowd of Kilchoman lovers.
While getting ready to pick my next single barrel from Devils River Distillery this coming Monday, I can’t help but marvel at this distillery’s ability to produce and release whiskies at such a young age but yet deliver so much in aroma and flavor. When I was first introduced to their whiskey during the height of the pandemic, when the account rep had seen the now famous YOUTUBE WHISKEY TRIBE VIDEO and thought he’d take a chance on selling me a single barrel of their freshly released 2.5 yr old bourbons. A ballsy move on his part but his efforts paid off. It probably helped that he knew I was a big fan of Texas bourbons already.
The first barrel was aptly named Candy Cane because on a fresh crack of opening the bottle, the sweet corn and peppermint candy aromas jumps out at you. Coming out of a 53 gallon barrel, it was bottled at a whopping 130PF. The mashbill is 75% yellow dent corn, 21% rye and 4% malted barley.
On the nose, high octane whiff, hard candy sweetness, peppermint, cinnamon, damp leaves.
On the palate, sweet corn, peppermint candy stick, loads of cinnamon, hint of cocoa, very viscous, the spice rest mostly on the right side of the palate and is not overwhelming despite the high proof.
The finish goes on and on, carries the sweetness and spice.
The second barrel was a no brainer to name because of the prominent nose of caramel and chocolate fudge. Just like its predecessor, the palate was spot on with the nose with the caramel sweetness and some maple syrup, it has a place in a boozy waffle or pancake brunch but at 123PF you might not get much accomplished the rest of the day.
It seems appropriate that my first blog for Whisky Mentors Single Barrel picks starts with a current Whistle Pig Single Barrel selection, QS09 My Seville. It’s a 12 year old finished in Vino de Naranja casks that I picked in late July of 2022. Why, the significance, you ask. Well, my first barrel from Whistle Pig came one sunny afternoon in the fall of 2015, when Dave Pickerell launched the Whistle Pig Single Barrel Program at Worldwide Wines Inc in Wallingford. Dave had selected his top ten cask strength barrels to present to a group of 25 retailers in Connecticut. They were lined up from left to right with increasing proofs from 110 to 120. We had little notebooks to add our tasting notes as he led us through each barrel. It was the first time I had ever had a 100% Rye Whiskey straight from the barrel at cask strength but I fell in love with it immediately. From the alluring aromas of caramel sweetness and rye spice on the nose sans grassy notes, to the powerful explosion of complex flavors on the palate with thick viscosity and an enduring finish of spice and warmth, it was apparent that I needed to buy a barrel of it. QS01 bottled at 120.2 P, if I was naming my barrel picks back then, would have been called “My First Love”.
Over the course of time, I will introduce you to all my other Whistle Pig barrels but for now, My Seville, is one you should not miss out on. The nose is reminiscent of a previous pick Irene’s Zen Barrel in complexity but the palate and finish is completely different, much drier with delicate hints of orange citrus notes, but equally complex and delicious.