I do raise my eyebrows at the notion of mezcal casks really being a ‘thing’ (virtually all mezcals are delivered “joven” – unaged) – in the same way that I do with every mention of champagne casks. Nevertheless, I have been quite keen to see how my two favourite spirits can be conjoined. This TWE exclusive release – delivered alongside an almost identically composed tequila cask finish were due to make their appearance last autumn – however the current vagaries of global logistics and the very real glass shortage kept this pair off the shelves until the start of this month.
There’s a steadily growing number of agave-influenced whiskies being released following changes to SWA regulations – and it seems that Kilchoman have been spearheading the usage of these casks with a number of experimental releases offered as country and shop exclusives over the past 12-18 months. The TWE version is delivered at 52.8% ABV and is still available online for £96.95 – or alongside the sister tequila finish for a combined price of £192.
Nose: Toffee apple, vanilla cream and golden honey lead into alluvialness with gravel and wet pebbles. Sea breeze is set against smoked fudge whilst burnt hay and vegetation provides a play on the expected peat smoke. Reduction offers wet woollen jumpers, damp carpet and moss alongside smoke that almost feels electrical in nature – burnt circuit boards. Unusual.
Taste: Off into the wilds. Smoked limes, orangeade and lemon gel pave the way for a torrent of ashtrays, hot coals, engine oils and earthy agave notes possessing plenty of herbaceous leafiness. Coffee grounds, sweet apples and pepper follow balancing out what is quite an undomesticated journey. Water again presents ozone – this time with mossy bogs, overt wood smoke and medicinal wipes.
Finish: Long with sweet mineral-led smoke.
Rather the adventure – but not necessarily a trip that’s plain sailing throughout. Whilst the mezcal influence is indeed tangible throughout – it is punctuated by high levels of residual sugars that are at times too much for my sweet tooth. Water likewise feels like a detraction, diminishing the brighter fruit-led notes and favouring a rather leftfield marshland profile that doesn’t necessarily have the same appeal as the delivered bottling strength offers. Nevertheless, there’s bundles of character here – and the cask has delivered a profound influence. I like it. But sadly, I don’t love it.
Review sample provided by The Whisky Exchange