On Wednesday I reviewed a Kilchoman released in 2015 and possibly available only at the distillery. Here now is a Kilchoman released just this year and a US exclusive to boot. This is a collaboration between Kilchoman and their US importer, ImpEx and features whisky matured in five barrels filled in 2012 that previously held wheated bourbon (I have no idea which ones). So a fairly small batch. It’s said to be “a tribute to the Bottled in Bond legacy of Bourbon in the US” but I’m not sure what that actually entails. If these five wheated bourbon barrels all held Bottled in Bond whiskey they don’t explicitly come out and say so. Is the connection just the BiB in both “Bottled in Bond” and “Bourbon Influenced Batch”? If you know more, please fill the rest of us in. Frankly, I’m not even sure what distinction is supposed to be imparted by the fact that this is “bourbon influenced”—I mean, isn’t most Kilchoman matured in bourbon casks? I don’t understand marketing. But I do like good whisky and hope this will prove to be one.
Kilchoman 9, 2012, Bourbon Influenced Batch (50%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Carbolic peat off the top of this one as well but it’s softer than the 10th anniversary release with quite a bit more vanilla and some cereals. On the second sniff there’s some preserved lemon as well, some ink and some char. Not much change with time. With a few drops of water the ink expands and there’s some carbon paper as well.
Palate: Comes in as indicated by the nose with some sweetness off the top and more ink and char on the backend as I swallow. Nice texture and quite approachable at full strength. Gets more bitter with each sip. The bitterness backs off a bit with time and the sweeter notes come to the fore. Water pushes the bitter notes back further and melds the phenolic smoke nicely with the lemon and the sweeter notes.
Finish: Long. The smoke picks up here and picks up phenolic intensity. Salt crystals pop at the very end. Less smoky and sweeter here too with time. Water brings out sweet char on the finish.
Comments: This will please those looking for a big phenolic blast; it will likely not please those averse to vanilla in their whisky. I liked it a bit better than Wednesday’s Kilchoman but not enough to give it a higher score. And I liked it better with water.
Rating: 86 points.