Kilchoman 5, 2015, PX Cask 772


I reviewed a fair number of bourbon cask whiskies in September. So let’s start October with a trio of heavily sherried whiskies and make them peated to boot.

This is the first of three Kilchomans that were distilled in 2015 from the distillery’s own barley, peated to 20 ppm. All were then matured in Pedro Ximinez hogsheads. As to whether these were regulation PX butts that were broken down and rebuilt as smaller hogsheads or whether these were regular hogsheads treated or seasoned with PX sherry, I don’t know. This one, cask 772 was bottled for the German market. The two that will follow this week were both released in North America. (Kilchoman, as you may know, has a pretty extensive single cask program.) Well, I like a good mix of sherry and peat as much as the next sap but in the past I’ve generally preferred bourbon cask Kilchoman to the sherried variety. Will this one buck that trend? Let’s see.

Kilchoman 5, 2015 (60.2%; PX Cask 772; from a bottle split)

Nose: A bit closed at first with pencil lead, salt and ashy peat the lead notes. As it gets some air sweeter notes begin to emerge: raisins, cherry compote, bacon dragged in maple syrup. More leafy/organic notes in the smoke with time. With more time the sour notes begin to show up in the nose as well. A few drops of water push the sour notes back and pull out some toffee.

Palate: Comes in sweet and spicy with the oak more prominent here. Reasonably approachable at full strength but the texture is a bit thin. Alas, on the second sip the sour notes from the finish pop out earlier and between that, the ashy smoke and the thin texture it doesn’t make for what I would call a winning combination. A little sweeter with time with some pipe tobacco but the oak is still too talkative. Okay, let’s see what water does for it. Yes, it does good things: there’s less of the sour/oak notes and it picks up depth on the whole—from the texture to the ashy smoke, which no longer comes across as dry/thin. Alas, left to sit longer, the sour/sharp notes return.

Finish: Long. The smoke gets more sour here and at the end there’s a bit of sherry separation. The sherry separation eases with time and some richer sweeter notes emerge here as well—but there’s more oak as well. As on the palate with water.

Comments: Not the most auspicious start to this series or the month. I liked the nose but on the palate it’s just too oak-driven. Between the youth and the likely heavily-massaged cask used it doesn’t come together well enough. Water fixes some of the problems on the palate but not enough. Let’s hope the other two casks are better. Cask 773 is up next.

Rating: 83 points. (Pulled up by water.)


 

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