Kilchoman STR Cask Matured 2019

Kilchoman STR Header article

If you read my account of the launch of Kingsbarns’ inaugural bottling, Dream to Dram, earlier in the year, you may have come across the term ‘STR cask’. If not, let me explain.

A brainchild of the late Dr. Jim Swan, ‘STR’ stands for Shaved, Toasted and Re-charred, which is exactly the process that a few dozen ex-red wine casks went through at Kilchoman in 2012 before being filled with 50ppm new make spirit. Firstly, the cask ends are removed before the old, red wine soaked char is shaved off to expose the fresh, lightly red wine soaked oak. This is toasted using burning oak chips from old casks, and then heavily charred once more. Just like this:

The spirit was left to mature in these STR casks until earlier this year, making the whisky 7-ish years old, before being bottled at 50% ABV, non-chill filtered and at natural colour. The use of these STR casks is said to remove harsh tannins and undesirable flavours and break down unwanted chemical bonds such as lignin, celluloses and hemicelluloses, replacing them with sugars, vanilla and spice notes.

Anthony Wills, Kilchoman Founder and Managing Director, said: “The STR cask, created by the late Dr Jim Swan, balances influence from both the new and used oak to create a powerful combination of rich fruit, oak, spice and maritime peat smoke.”

Let’s taste it.

Kilchoman STR Cask Matured 2019
Shaved, toasted & re-charred red wine hogsheads
14,500 bottles
50% ABV
£77.95 here

Nose: Sweet, BBQ-y peat smoke, toasted currants, chocolate covered cherries, plum jam and smoked limes and earthy baking spices.

Palate: Quite oily and fatty actually, lovely texture. Dry wood smoke, BBQ embers, chilli chocolate, cinnamon stick, salty nut mix, and heather. Then lime, faint Black Forest Gateau fruits and a hint of blackcurrant cordial.

Finish: Lingering, quite drying, wood smoke, with black tea and black peppercorns.

Overall: Another stellar release from Kilchoman. The wine influence is there, but it isn’t overpowering, and it’s a very different beast to the Red Wine Cask Matured release which launched in 2017. The fruit is there, but it’s a more balanced, and better integrated whisky. If you have a sweet tooth then that previous release is more up your street, but for me the combination of the gentle wine influence, the oak and the peat in the STR Cask Matured provides a more rounded whisky. Really enjoyable.



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