top of page
  • Writer's pictureErnie - Ernst Scheiner

New. St Kilian Solera 2024

Updated: Mar 12



Kilian's Unpeated Solera.


At the beginning of March, St. Kilians CTO and whisky maker Mario Rudolf presented the single malt Solera.


It was his first bottling in the “Whisky Solera by St. Kilian – Unpeated” series.


It is the world's first double distilled single malt Criadera-Solera,
which consists of sherry casks.




Similar to a sherry, the whisky went through all three stages of a modified Sistema Solera, with the final stage of maturation consisting exclusively of Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. As with Andalusiain wine production, only a portion was always taken "cascade-like" from the Criadera 2 and Criadera 1 as well as the solera.



Bodegas Gonzalez Byass in Jerez


Andalusia's winemakers set the example.


"The row of barrels above,
the 1st Criadera, is made up of barrique barrels,
which were previously filled with medium sherry made exclusively from Pedro Ximénez grapes.
The top row of barrels,
The 2nd Criadera, consists of the finest Manzanilla Sherry casks filled with mild whiskey matured in fresh American white oak casks."

The non-smoky version, twice distilled in Scottish Forsyth's Swan Neck pot stills in Franconian Rüdenau, was of course neither chill-filtered nor artificially colored with caramel. The basis was a Franconian barley malt of the Pilsner Malt variety. The 2024 Spring Release reached five years of age. Only 750 designer bottles (0.5 liters) with an alcohol concentration of 57.3% abv came into the distillery online shop.






The cask types in detail


For the mild, unpeated Kilian Solera variant, Mario Rudolf and Zoltan Fodi also chose a three-stage barrel maturation system consisting of a two-part Criadera 2 & 1 and a final Solera 3. However, compared to the smoky Solera, they sometimes switched to other barrel cultures.


The procedure for building the Solera in June 2020 was similar to that of the peated Solera variant.



St. Kilian Sistema Criadera y Solera


Step 1

In the first three years of building the St. Kilian Criadera Solera "...the project started in June 2020 with the filling of the Criadera 2 with a distillate from December 12, 2018..." which initially had matured for a little more than a year in Char 4 Virgin American Oak Barrels from the Independent Stave Company (ISC, 190 l).


Step 2

In June 2021, the casks in the top row were completely emptied after a year and their contents were filled into the Criadera 1 in the row below. The team filled the Criadera 2 with a two-year-old distillate from the same batch from December 2018, also matured in Virgin Oak barrels.


Step 3

In June 2022, the third year, the Criadera 1 was decanted into the Solera barrels.

The distillate flowed from the Criadera 1 stage into the solera barrels below, while the distillates from the Criadera 2 refilled the barrels of the Criadera 1.


The Kilian distillers immediately filled the empty Criadera 2 barrels with the three-year-old virgin oak distillate from the same distillation batch from December 12, 2018.


"The non-smoky St. Kilian-Criadera-Solera system was finally born,
From 2023 we will only fill the Criadera Two with mild Kilian malts that have matured for three years in first-fill Jackie barrels.
In future, the removal and transfer from the Criadera 2 and 1 as well as from the solera will be reduced to around thirty percent of the respective filling volume of the barrels."

Rudolf is happy,


"...We could have done the process differently, initially filling all stages of the solera at the same time with the same distillate.
We had the thoughts, but what was crucial for us was how do we make the structure most cleverly from an aromatic and taste point of view?
There is no right or wrong, for us it felt right to choose an aroma-building and structuring method...
The positive results confirm this approach.
We are off to a very good start with an incredibly supercharged product.
Now we can put an exclamation mark!
It will be exciting to see how the Solera changes over time."

 

Which barrel cultures are used in the mild St Kilian?


For the unpeated Criadera 2, the Kilian team uses seasoned casks made of American oak from the renowned Toneleria Tevasa one in which a dry Manzanilla Sherry from the Bodega Baron of Sanlúcar de Barrameda flavoured the staves for two years. From June 2020, two certified seasoned first-fill Manzanilla Hogsheads (250 liters) will form the twice-distilled barley spirit (see above) in the Criadera non-smoked German barley malt (Pilsner Malt variety) from the Weyermann maltster in Bamberg, Franconia.


Master Blender Mario Rudolf


In the following stage of Criadera 1, old seasoned medium sherry butts from the Bodega Ximénez-Spinola are used. As with the peaty Kilian variant, the final solera maturation takes place in certified seasoned Pedro Ximénez barriques (225 l) from the Bodega Ximénez-Spínola from Tablas in the D.O. Jerez.


"In the third phase of maturation, we only use certified seasoned Pedro Ximénez Sherry barriques from the Bodega Ximénez-Spínola.
These give our whisky an expressive and complex aroma profile."

With the annual addition of a three-year-old St Kilian malt, which undergoes basic maturation in charred first-fill bourbon barrels from Jack Daniel, the Solera will be continued in future, thus allowing a standardization of the three-stage St Kilian-Criadera-Solera system. After 30% of the content has been transferred into Criadera One, the Criadera 2 is filled to the bunghole with the whisky matured in “Jackie” barrels every year .


This means that a double-distilled St Kilian malt whisky that was originally matured for three years in first-fill bourbon barrels is actually finished three times:


  • Finish 1 Fine Manzanilla flavours,

  • Finish 2 with a mild medium aged sherry and finally a

  • Finish 3 of an aroma-intensive sweet Pedro Ximénez sherry from organic winery. The Pedro Ximénez grapes grow on the slopes around the Ximénez-Spinola Bodega in D.O. Jerez.




What does the St Kilian Solera 2024 taste like?


Official tasting notes from St. Kilian


"Look

Mahogany


Aroma

The intensely fragrant bouquet of ripe sherry harmonizes with notes of dark dried fruits such as plums, dates and raisins, and is finally skilfully rounded off by delicious walnut aromas.


The taste

The rich sweetness of mature sherry, plums, raisins and Seville oranges is accompanied by ripe walnuts and harmonizes perfectly with the warming melange of oak spice and fine dark chocolate.


Resonance

The creamy aromas of sherry, raisins and Seville oranges covered in dark chocolate linger for a long time together with subtle dry oak notes and slightly bitter walnut tones."


The author thanks St Kilian Distillers for sending a Solera 2024 sample.



Personal impression


This single malt is a cracker indeed.


Those who like sherry-aged whiskies will appreciate and love this St. Kilian Solera 2024. The natural dark colour reminiscent of mahogany inspires and suggests a complex basket of ripe fruits. The thin string of pearls in the glass indicates: Beware of a high-alcohol whisky. Caution! But the nose is not shocked by alcohol notes, the alcohol is well integrated, which indicates a very gentle, slow distillation.


The whisky appears fresh and clean. There is absolutely no sulfur!!


The intense and powerful bundle of aromas from ripe dark fruits evoke associations of ripe plums, plum jam, raisins and oranges. Cinnamon and tobacco flow through the nose. The impression is harmonious but also rather complex. Blowing briefly into the glas dispels the alcohol and opens up new aromas that are reminiscent of raspberries, nuts, plum preserves, sugar beet syrup and black chocolate.


Of course, strong but not too dominant Pedro Ximénez scents of sun-dried raisins are flattering.

A long-lasting, complex, fresh fruit compote made of dates, oranges and chocolate croissant unfolds on the tongue. Bitter notes are missing, the alcohol is not felt, the aftertaste is powerful and long lasting, intensely filling the entire mouth. The solera barrels do not overwhelm the malted barley character. Rubbed on the palm, the sherry-soaked stave wood and traces of malt still appear.


The Solera whisky impresses with its freshness. Adding water reinforces this impression and generates light fruity associations. The nose and tongue feel the harmony, the balance of aromas and taste. Again and again. It is a very drinkable whisky, a charmer, a St. Kilian masterpiece.


That's a cracker!

The forthcoming Vintage Solera releases will delight the whisky world.


The downer:


It's just a shame that not many people will be able to enjoy this exceptional whisky.


The edition is limited to 750 bottles each batch.



A selection of cask cultures. Virgin Oak Barrels, Jack Daniel American Standard Barrels,
Manzanilla Casks, PX Sherry Casks and Sherry Casks at the St Kilian Distillery

Photos copyright St. Kilian Distillers and The Gateway to Distilleries


 

Conclusion


It should add up. So we increase the aroma, the delicate aromas, the color, the sweetness, the fruits...actually everything.
It's exciting to see what effect this will have and look like from stage to stage...because no one has done anything like this in the single malt sector..."

says the inventor of the St. Kilian Solera Mario Rudolf.



The Kilian-Solera process is very complex: labor-intensive and costly. In compliance with German customs regulations, the barrels must always be completely emptied during refilling, the removal weighed, stored temporarily and processed for tax purposes.


The meticulous documentation of the procedures is indeed very time-consuming. Each time-consuming step is handwritten in the duty book and checked and countersigned by a Kilian employee sworn in by the German tax authorities.



Annotation


Prices for sherry-aged whiskies will generally rise sharply in the coming years, as seasoned casks are now trading at almost three times the price compared to 2020. Overall, the international barrel market is very tense and competition for high-quality barrels/casks is increasing.


The prices of Bourbon barrels for major customers are rising to over 180.00 euros and more per barrel (as of December 2023). At the barrel dealer Wilhelm Eder in Bad Dürkheim, Germany, a Buffalo Trace Sazerac cask once filled with rye whiskey costs around 450 Euro each or a Garrisson Brothers 56 liter bourbon barrel costs around 320 euros each. Barrique-sized sherry barrels cost around 950 euros each, a Pedro Ximénez 500 liter butt costs around 1,550 Euro each.

Please refer Wilhelm Eder .



Bodega Butts, Hogsheads and Seasoned Casks




 


Abut the author

Ernie - Ernst J. Scheiner is the editor of the portal The Gateway to Distilleries www.whisky-distilleries.net He photographs over 150 distilleries from the inside and describes the production of the whiskies in detail. Since studying at the University of Edinburgh he has been interested in the subject of whisky and has published in

trade magazines such as The Ireland Journal, the small distillery, Whiskey Passion and The Highland Herold . Features and stories appeared in the blogs whiskeyexperts, whiskyfanblog and whiskeyintelligence. As head of the VHS Ingelheim, and now as a whisk(e)y tutor, he delivers distillation seminars, study tours and whisky culture seminars to the sources of whisky.


Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page