This is my first Kilchoman that’s been anywhere near a Pedro Ximinez sherry cask. It was bottled for Whisky Import Nederland in 2014 (I’m not sure if it is still available). It was only finished in PX and the outturn was a mere 258 bottles. This suggests that it started out in a bourbon hogshead, though it’s not clear to me if in such instances they would only fill a sherry butt halfway to finish one bourbon cask or if two bourbon casks get dumped in together and the product then split for separate releases; if so, the cask number below may just be for the cask in which the whisky was finished. In other words, perhaps more Glendronach-style labeling. Or maybe not—if you know more, please write in below.
At any rate, I’m intrigued to try this. While I’ve not loved every Kilchoman I’ve tried, I am a big fan of the distillery and curious to see how their spirit stands up to the heavier and sweeter PX sherry. Let’s get right to it.
Kilchoman 5 2008 (54.9%; cask 577/2008 for WIN; PX finish; from a purchased sample)
Nose: A little blank at first but then leafy smoke, mezcal’ish floral notes and a raisiny sweetness begin to emerge; some salt too. Still somewhat muted, on the whole. After a minute it’s more expressive with pencil lead and seashells along with an expanded phenolic quality and some lime. Much richer and more obviously PX sherried with time: date and sticky toffee. With water there’s some apricot and the smoke is drier.
Palate: Starts out sweet but then the smoke comes arcing out, redolent of maple-smoked bacon. More citrus on the second sip (between lime and orange) and more sweetness. Richer and stickier with time on the palate too but there isn’t much interesting development. Let’s see what water does. It brings out more orange peel but also makes it more straightforwardly sweet (simple syrup).
Finish: Long. The sweet smoke and salt fade out slowly together. The sticky notes emerge on the finish too with time and there’s some pipe tobacco here too. Not quite as sweet on the finish with water.
Comments: The PX is not particularly apparent on the nose at first but it shows up soon enough and it’s there in spades on the palate. It’s not the rich sherry character you might expect if your frame of reference is Glendronach’s single casks and it’s not as complex as the best of those; and it might be a bit too sweet even if you like PX cask whisky. But I really enjoyed it (especially with some very dark chocolate). Even if this profile is not usually your thing I’d say this works well as a digestif, and would probably be excellent with a nutty sheep’s milk cheese. If it were still around I’d probably get a bottle. Of course, there’s no guarantee the current casks are anything like this one. I liked what water did for the nose more than what it did for the palate.