Kilchoman US Releases in 2021 – An Overview

The USA is one of the most important markets for Kilchoman. Since the first Kilchoman release for the US market in 2010, they can look back on steadily increasing sales figures and have been able to build up a strong fan base – as even a quick glance at social media shows. The US importer since the very beginning has been the Californian company ImpEx Beverages, which under its president Sam Filmus has done a lot to establish the brand in the USA. In particular, many special single cask releases selected by ImpEx for the American market contributed to this. Especially the ImpEx Cask Evolution series could come up with some rare and excellent bottlings.

A particular challenge for this positive development was the 25% punitive tariffs announced at the end of 2019, which the Trump administration had imposed on Single Malt Scotch whisky, among others, in the trade dispute with the EU. Kilchoman and ImpEx quickly agreed to share the costs of the punitive tariffs and not pass them on to customers. A not inconsiderable financial burden for two medium-sized companies Anthony Wills and Sam Filmus were in their own words “focused on continuing the long term success of Kilchoman in the United States”.

After the lifting of the punitive tariffs, ImpEx set off a veritable fireworks display of new bottlings this year. 19 small batch and single cask releases alone have been released in the last few weeks and months or are announced for the coming weeks – thanks to COVID and Brexit, there are unfortunately a few months between the bottling at Kilchoman and the release in the USA.

With the multitude of new bottlings and the frequently postponed release dates, one can sometimes lose the overview, especially for our American readers but not only for them, we want to summarise the Kilchoman US Small Batch and Single Cask releases of the year 2021 in the following.

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The series of Small Batch releases for selected countries, which began in 2019, is particularly popular and successful in the USA. While other Kilchoman markets around the world can usually boast two different small batch releases at the time, there are now six in the USA.

The “USA Small Batch No. 4” was released in spring 2021 and again featured a Madeira Hogshead as an additional cask to the Machir Bay vatting. The ratios are given as 65% bourbon, 5% sherry and 30% Madeira.
This was followed in late summer by the “USA Small Batch No. 5” and the “USA Small Batch No. 6”.

In the “USA Small Batch No. 5” the additional cask is a Sauternes Hogshead. The proportions are 70% bourbon, 5% oloroso sherry and 25% Sauternes.

In the “USA Small Batch No. 6”, on the other hand, a Pedro Ximénez Sherry Hogshead was added. The proportions are 70% bourbon, 5% oloroso sherry and 25% PX sherry.

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In the late summer of 2021, Kilchoman lovers in the USA could look forward to another very special small batch release, a “Bourbon Influenced Batch” created in close cooperation between the Kilchoman distillery and ImpEx Beverages.
As is well known, Kilchoman sources all its bourbon barrels from the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. However, this distillery produces many different whiskies. Among them is the W. L. Weller Wheated Bourbon. While the mash of a classic straight bourbon whiskey consists of a minimum of 51% corn, plus rye and some barley malt, the wheated bourbon uses wheat instead of rye. This makes the whiskey “softer” and nuttier and less acidic in taste.

During one of the warehouse tastings to select new single cask releases for the USA, Sam Filmus and Chris Uhde from ImpEx discovered the Weller Wheated Bourbon barrels in Kilchoman’s warehouses and the idea was born to create a special small batch from these casks. Five wheated bourbon barrels filled in spring 2012 were married and bottled at the popular US alcohol strength of 100 proof (50.0 % abv).

In order to emphasise the important role of the original US barrels, the contents of which are now returning from Scotland to the USA as a single malt, Kilchoman and ImpEx are still playing with the B.I.B. term. Naturally, a Scotch single malt whisky cannot be called “Bottled-in-Bond”, this protected term is reserved for straight bourbon whiskeys produced according to the known regulations. So the B.I.B. on the bottle then NATURALLY means “Bourbon Influenced Batch”…

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In addition to the 4 small batch releases mentioned above, a full 15 single cask releases either appeared within the Cask Evolution series, for various liquor shops or fan groups, or have already been bottled and will be released in the coming weeks:

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In May 2021, this bottling was released for the liquor shop Westmoreland Liquor in Portland, Oregon. The whisky was initially matured for 7 years in a bourbon barrel and was then finished for one year in a Ruby Port Hogshead.

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ImpEx Cask Evolution 01/2021: In the summer of 2021, the US Kilchoman importer ImpEx Beverages was able to release one of the world’s first Kilchoman Mezcal Cask Finish bottlings within its Cask Evolution series.
The whisky was first matured for almost 7 years in a Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel and was then finished for 8 months in a Mezcal cask.

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The well-known New York whiskey club Drammers Club recently released this STR Finish Single Cask as the 43rd bottling for its members. The whisky was first matured for seven years in a bourbon barrel and was then finished for 19 months in an STR Cask – a shaved, toasted and re-charred red wine cask.

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In September, a new single cask bottling was released for Binny´s Beverage Depot. The company, founded in 1948, is the largest wine, beer and spirits superstore in the Midwest with 45 locations in Illinois. In the past, exclusive Kilchoman single cask bottlings have often been released for Binny’s, but the latest edition is now an STR cask finish. The whisky was first matured for seven and a half years in a bourbon barrel and was then finished for 18 months in an STR Cask – a shaved, toasted and re-charred red wine cask.

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In September, the liquor shop Warehouse Liquors in Chicago already released its 3rd Kilchoman Single Cask bottling. This time it is a 100% Islay PX Sherry full maturation, 6 years old to the day.

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For the 2nd edition of its Cask Evolution series of 2021, ImpEx Beverages selected an 8-year-old Ruby Port Finish Single Cask. He was supported in the selection by the three American Kilchoman fans Travis Williams, Fernando Castorena and Elijah Ammon.
The whisky was first matured for 7 years in a Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel and was then finished for one year in a Ruby Port Hogshead.

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The Texan spirits chain Spec’s. Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods has announced two Kilchoman Single cask bottlings for the coming weeks: a 13-year-old bourbon full maturation from 2008…

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… and a 10-year-old bourbon full maturation distilled in 2010.

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Another 100% Islay PX Sherry full maturation – a sister cask to the one above for Warehouse Liquors – has been announced for Exec’s Whiskey Club and El Cerrito Liquor.

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Barrel & Bottle presents an 8 year old 100% Islay Bourbon Barrel.

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ImpEx Cask Evolution 03/2021. After the mezcal finish as No. 01/2021 of the Cask Evolution series, a tequila finish will follow shortly. Both of the new cask types used by Kilchoman will then also be available in the USA. The labels have several typing errors: the box and back label incorrectly state ImpEx Cask Evolution 02/2021 and the distillation date is actually 29.8.2013.

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ImpEx Cask Evolution 04/2021: as the fourth release of the year, US Kilchoman fans can look forward to a Sauternes Cask Finish.

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Two 100% Islay Oloroso Sherry Single Casks are due to be released shortly, the first one bottled for Lee & Greg, a private whisky fangroup, but of which some bottles are also due to reach retail. The whisky was made from unpeated malt but because the pipes and receivers weren’t fully flushed out before the distillation it still have a slight hint of smoke on the palate. For this reason, Kilchoman always puts the term “unpeated” in quotation marks; earlier releases in the U.S. traded as “slightly peated”.

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The “unpeated” sister cask was bottled for The Mid Atlantic – i.e. the region of the United States generally located in the overlap between the Northeastern and Southeastern States. The distillation date 23.8.2021 is the correct one, the 23.9.2021 for cask 556/2012 is again a typo.

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This 100% Islay Pedro Ximénez full maturation, which was realised on the initiative of our Kilchomania member Travis Williams, is scheduled for release in autumn 2021. The three shareholders are the restaurant chain Pitch, founded in 2009 in Omaha, Nebraska, whose 3rd location in Scottsdale, Arizona is a Kilchoman Comraich Bar; the whisky internet group New.whiskyorder, which was launched in 2019 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and the ArizonaWhiskeyCommunity (AWC) a group of whisk(e)y lovers who are very active in Arizona with numerous events.

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A truly amazing set of interesting bottlings that gives whisky lovers the opportunity to explore so many different Kilchoman whiskies.

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