Taste Guide: Tequila Cask
In 2019, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the trade body of the Scotch whisky industry, changed the regulations on cask maturation of Scotch whisky. In the course of the trend towards maturing or finishing whisky in increasingly exotic casks in order to offer consumers new taste experiences, demands for a relaxation of the previous rules, which many distilleries considered restrictive, had become louder and louder; individual distilleries had already “creatively interpreted” the existing rules and launched individual Calvados or cider cask finishings on the market. (At Kilchoman, too, the first Calvados casks had already been filled before 2019).
Under the old rules, Scotch whisky could only be matured in oak casks that had been “traditionally used in the industry”, i.e. bourbon, sherry, rum, wine and beer casks, to name but the most important. The new rules now also allow the use of casks in which other spirits were previously matured, as long as cask maturation is part of the traditional production process of these spirits. These are, for example, the two agave spirits tequila and mezcal, calvados as well as other fruit brandies as long as they are not made from stone fruits. However, the use of cider and gin casks is still not permitted.
In 2020, Kilchoman filled 25 tequila and 25 mezcal casks for the first time on a trial basis, some intended for full maturation, some for finishing. As Anthony Wills reported several times, they were very positively surprised by the development of the whisky in these casks and therefore filled a few more around Christmas time 2020.
The first Tequila Finish Single Cask Release was released as an Online Shop Exclusive on 21 April 2021. This bottling has since been followed by a handful of others worldwide, all of them Tequila finishings with an age of around 8 years and a finishing period of between 6 months and one year. We will probably have to wait a few more years for the first fully matured tequila cask release.
What does Kilchoman whisky from a tequila cask taste like?
On the basis of the previous bottlings, it can be stated first of all that the tequila cask is not a very dominant cask, but that the known spectrum of flavours of a Kilchoman whisky matured for approx. 8 years in a bourbon barrel (cooked yellow fruits, citrus, vanilla, barley malt) is supplemented by some new tones. Above all, there is a special fruitiness that reminds one of green agave. In addition, there is an outstanding cotton candy-like sweetness, especially in the finish. The whole thing is very tasty, and we are very much looking forward to longer tequila finishing times or the first full maturation!