I was going to say it’s been a long time since my last Kilchoman review but I actually reviewed one just this past January. That was from a sherry cask. Maybe I should say it’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a bourbon cask Kilchoman. That would take me back to 2018 and this 3 yo. Today’s bourbon cask Kilchoman is quite a bit older at 11 years old. It was apparently bottled for a private group. As to whether that group is named “Friends of Kilchoman” or that’s just the name for the private cask program, I don’t know. I do know I’ve always generally been impressed by the quality of bourbon cask Kilchoman at very young ages and so I am curious to find out what it is like at 11 years of age. Are they still planning to only release young’ish whisky? As I recall that was the plan at the beginning—though, of course, at the time they did not have any aged whisky to sell. I guess I could have asked if I’d done a less perfunctory visit when we were on Islay a few years ago. Well, if I ever get back there again I will do a proper tour.
Kilchoman 11, 2007 (57.4%; private cask for Friends of Kilchoman; ex-bourbon; from a bottle split)
Nose: Carbolic peat (Dettol) mixed in with sweet cereal notes, lemon and brine. As it sits there’s some vanilla-cream mixed in with the cereal. With more time there’s more of the bright Dettol note. The wet stones from the palate show up here too as it sits. Hmm a few drops of water seem to make the nose sweeter still.
Palate: Comes in with the sweet leading the way but with everything else right behind it. Very approachable at full strength and a rich texture. Some wet stones mixed in with the sweet complex here. More acid with more time and there’s some cracked pepper too. With more time there’s just a bit too much of the vanilla-cream for my liking. Let’s see if water brings the sharper notes back. Yes, it does! More acid, ashy smoke, expanding salt!
Finish: Long. The sweet notes crest first but then the carbolic peat keeps going and going and going, incorporating a bit of ash at the end. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This was gangbusters out of the gate on both the nose and palate but then got a bit too sweet (and too simply sweet) for my liking on both. Water fixed that for the palate but not so much for the nose. Still, this is excellent 11 yo whisky—if not particularly complex—and evidence of just how good Kilchoman can be, especially from bourbon casks. It’ll be interesting to see what the spirit will be like closer to 15 years of age—which is I think where it would be now if any casks from the first year of distillation are to be released.
Rating: 87 points.