And Kilchoman week comes to a close. I started on Monday with a 13 yo—the oldest Kilchoman I’ve yet tasted and reviewed. On Wednesday I reviewed a 10 yo. Both of those were bourbon casks bottled for the Spec’s liquor chain in Texas. Today’s release—bottled for some outfit called the Southern California Whiskey Club—is both the youngest of the three, at 8 years of age, and also a little more unconventional. It too started out in a bourbon cask but received a finish in a ruby port quarter cask. As per Kilchomania, it spent more than 7 years in a Buffalo Trace cask before entering the port quarter cask—which presumably was a quarter cask treated with ruby port for this purpose; I don’t think port of any kind is typically matured in such small casks. Port casks work best for me when heavily peated whisky is involved and so that part should be fine. But there’s also quite a bit of oak contact here and I’m not generally big on oaky whiskies. Which way will this one go? Only one way to find out.
Kilchoman 8, 2012 (55.8%; ruby port quarter cask finish; from a bottle split)
Nose: Expectedly sweet entry with red fruit (cherry) and sweet citrus on top of ashy, carbolic smoke; a cereal note runs through it as well. A little meatier on the second and third sniffs and there’s a big vein of pencil lead as well. With time and air both the red fruit and the phenols subside a fair bit and there’s now quite a bit of vanilla along with the citrus and some ash. A few drops of water push the sweeter notes back and bring out some dried orange peel and some charred pork.
Palate: Comes in with a fair bit of tar which begins to turn to ash as I swallow. Very approachable at full strength with good texture. With more time the sweeter notes expand and then blend very nicely with the smoke, which gets more ashy as it goes. Okay, let’s add some water. It pulls out some pipe tobacco and pencil lead/graphite and blends them in with the sweet citrus peel and the ashy smoke.
Finish: Long. The ashy smoke builds. The port threatens to separate but then it keeps together. Very ashy at the end with some salt emerging as well. Longer and sweeter here as well with water but the sweetness is melded nicely with the smoke.
Comments: I rather liked this, especially once it settled down in the glass and got some air and then again with water. Yes, this is my favourite of the trio even though it’s a bit more anonymous than the others. If you’re keeping score, my ratings for this trio of Kilchomans were inversely proportional to age.
Rating: 88 points.