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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Single Malt Report: Kilchoman Port Cask Matured (2014)

In addition to Loch Gorm, Machir Bay, 100% Islay, and the single casks, Kilchoman added some special releases to their range in 2014 and 2015.  The first of these was a Port Cask Matured single malt.  Though not a single cask, it was a limited release made up of single malt aged entirely in (approximately 20) ruby port casks.  Though the official website references that the casks were filled in 2010, the bottle says that the distillation happened in 2011.  So what we have here is a three year old whisky.  If anyone has a good track record with barely legal whisky, it's Kilchoman (specifically their non-100% Islay stuff).  Let's see how it fares with port.

Brand: Kilchoman
Region: Islay
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Maturation: ex-ruby port casks
Age: 3 years (2011-2014)
Alcohol by Volume: 55%
Limited Bottling: 6,000
Colored? No
Chillfiltered? No
Many thanks to Brett for the sample!!!

The color is ruby gold.

The nose leads with cherries and baked fruit tarts, but also heaps of peat ashes.  The peat gets mossier with time and the fruits turn into roses.  There are also notes of white frosting, agave nectar, grass, and dandelions.  Vanilla and a Laphroaig-like peat move in at the 30 minute mark.

Peat and heat hit first in the palate, along with a fruity sweetness around the edges.  Lots of fresh pepper and ginger in the back.  A spicy zing all over the tongue.  Though the fruit is plummy at first, it trends towards limes later.

No fruit but limes in the finish.  Black pepper, salt, ashes, and a little sugar.  The moderate heat reads spicy.

Let's see what happens when it gets soaked a bit:

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose gets rawer.  Burning plastic, dog fur, and cinnamon.  Tart berries, rich peat, and Nillas show up later.

Peat peat peat, peppery dirty peat in the palate.  Some molasses and vanilla.  A hint of ginger.  The port shows up as raspberry soda.

The finish still has a spicy bite.  Smoky residue hovers above sea salt and raspberry candy.


I'll tell you what, this beats the snot out of the Longrow Red (also Ruby!) Port Cask Matured whisky.  It's certainly much younger, but in this case that also means the wine is more reserved and usually lets the malt do the shouting.  And with the volume cranked up louder, the peaty spirit is crisp and bold.  The palate stands up to the water very well, though the nose begins to look its age.

While this is better than the Longrow Port Cask, it's still a half step behind Laphroaig's Portwood, so I'd love to see them bottle this at 6 years of age, if they're willing to wait, next time.  And yes, it is a relatively small batch, released at a high ABV by a very small business, but the $120 price tag prevents me (and many of their fans) from plucking a bottle from the shelves.

Availability - Getting a little scarce, especially in Europe.
Pricing - $115-$130
Rating - 86


  1. >Burning plastic, dog fur, and cinnamon

    Oh boy, now don't oversell it!

    1. At least that's on the nose! On the palate that can be pretty scary.