Let’s do a week of weirdo Kilchomans. By “weirdo” I mean any kind of maturation other than ex-bourbon or ex-sherry. I know, it’s very old-fashioned of me. First up, is a a five year old matured in red wine casks, specifically red wine casks from the Douro Valley in Portugal. (Note: this is not a single cask release and nor is it a cask strength release: it was a worldwide release put together from 20 red wine casks at 50% abv.) Now, I don’t have a good history with red wine cask whisky. But I’m not actually sure I’ve ever had anything other than a red wine finish. This one was actually full-term matured in red wine casks (or at least so I think). I am hopeful that this will at least prevent one of the things I have not enjoyed about red wine cask whisky: the red wine notes separating from and floating above the whisky. I can only hope it will also guard against the other major thing I have not enjoyed about red wine cask whisky: eau de cologne on the nose. Another potential good sign is that this is, of course, heavily peated whisky (I believe at 50 ppm). I’m not a huge fan of port cask whisky either but have generally found it to work best with peated whiskies. With all my hopes and reservations on the table, let’s get to it.
Kilchoman 5, 2012 (50%; Douro Valley red wine casks; from a bottle split)
Nose: Phenolic peat comes wafting out of the glass, with some raisiny notes following. No signs of eau de cologne, thank my many-armed gods. Some orange peel mixed in with the sweeter notes on the second sniff but this is mostly driven by the phenols. The smoke gets ashier as it goes and some sweet malt and cereal notes emerge as well. With more time the pencil lead from the finish pops up. A few drops of water and everything seems to deflate a little.
Palate: As on the nose, it’s driven by the smoke here with very little of the usual signs of wine cask maturation. Which is to say, there isn’t a red fruit overload. A very good drinking strength and mouth-coating texture. Continues in this vein. With time a sour note emerges that’s not very much to my taste. Let’s see what water does for it. Hmm it seems to emphasize the sour notes and make the whole a bit flabby.
Finish: Long. The smoke gets drier and ashier as it goes and some tar emerges as well. Some salt too and a bit of pencil lead. As on the palate with time and water.
Comments: As I said, very little sign of the red wine in the early going, though the sour notes and the flabbiness with water seem likely connected. At any rate, not one to linger over and there’s not much development to speak of. I liked it better neat, in case it’s not obvious
Rating: 85 points.