This was a limited edition vatting of sherry casks released in 2012, I believe. Since then there have been single sherry casks available in the US from specific retailers and there’s also the new Loch Gorm release. I’m interested to see how this compares to the ex-bourbon 5 yo that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. I actually tasted this right after that one and took notes. In case, you wonder why in such cases I don’t publish the notes together it’s because I like to leave myself a little more time to do each write-up. Also, a review a day gives the illusion that I’m more active than I really am.
Kilchoman 5, Sherry Cask (46%; from a sample received in a swap)
As per the Kilchoman website they use only oloroso butts and hogsheads (presumably reconstructed).
Nose: Earthy peat and leafy smoke; some milk chocolate. The peat and smoke get increasingly farmy. With time there’s some graphite (pencil lead) and ink and increased salt (sea air). With even more time there’s a nice leatheriness and some dried tangerine peel and dried apricot begins to peep out too. Quite nice. The citrus and apricot get quite pronounced with time and some toffee pops out too later. Water concentrates the fruit nicely, brings out a malty/biscuity quality and drives the smoke back quite a bit.
Palate: As with the 5 yo, 2006 the mouthfeel is a little thin. Not much overt sherry here. A rounded, rich smokiness with just a touch of caramel. It’s clear that this is the doing of the sherry cask but the usual raisins, toffee etc. don’t come leaping out. Having said that, after some time in the glass there is some raisiny sweetness, and maybe some cola concentrate too. And the leatheriness from the nose shows up here too. Much later there’s the vegetal/bell peppery note I often get in sherried, peated Islays and also some of the lemon and apricot from the nose. A little more intensity would be good though. And what do you know, water improves the mouthfeel of this one as well and intensifies the fruit and toffee.
Finish: Medium-long. Earthy smoke, salt and the leatheriness are what seem to hang on longest. With water there’s a cocoa note that emerges late on the finish.
Comments: Not quite as phenolic as the 2006 vintage release. I prefer the nose of this one, but the palate is not at the level of the nose. Still, it’s a nice counterpoint to the more common ex-bourbon profile and I do like this a little more than the 2006 vintage release. Interesting how the sherry character takes a long time to fully emerge–I suggest spending a long time with it and adding a touch of water halfway through.
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks again to Patrick for the sample!
And a quick bonus:
I am sorry to say that I have no idea where I got this from. It is in one of Whiskybase’s sample bottles but does not have their signature label with the whisky i.d. etc. so I don’t think I got it from there. As a result I am also not sure when/where this was released. If any of my usual sample swap friends are reading and you recognize the bottle please drop me a line. It does look somewhat pale for an oloroso cask whisky at cask strength–so a mystery all around.
Nose: Not an oloroso bomb on the nose either but definitely sherried. And it’s good. Phenolic smoke tempered nicely with earthy, vegetal notes and brine. Honey, citrus peel, leather and ink emerge with some airing and then there’s a very strong note of wet clay.
Palate: Leads with phenolic smoke but there’s lemon and then raisiny sweetness right behind it. That earthy note continues and grounds all the other flavours. Salt too. Really very nice and very close to the nose as it develops. Remarkably drinkable at full strength, with a thick, oily mouthfeel.
Finish: Long. Pretty much as on the palate; just more of it. The salt intensifies with time.
Comments: Lovely stuff and mature beyond its years; wish I had more. Suggests how good the sherry cask would have been at cask strength.
Not enough of a sample to assign a rating or to taste fully without and with water.