By Richard Thomas
One of the late releases to come out of Islay last year was one near to my heart, at least on paper: a Kilchoman whisky matured for five years in red wine casks from the Portuguese Duoro Valley. Added to that was a high strength bottling, 50% ABV, equivalent to a Bottled in Bond American Whiskey and well above the usual maximum of 46% ABV.
In the glass, the liquid has a glistening, golden appearance. It drops just a few tears, and those reluctantly.
The nose is smoky, as one might expect from Kilchoman, with a strong cinnamon-spiced note and a soft tinge of red wine. Against this is an odd, creamy, dairy note. It’s an odd juxtaposition, but one that somehow works.
A sip and taste follows mostly along those lines. Ash, saline and hot cinnamon in the main, with a substantial note of spicy, strawberry wine. The finish is smoky and fades fast.
This is a pretty basic Kilchoman profile, accented by the chosen cask stock. I think the pairing works well, but what it does not do is create an outstanding whisky. It’s a nice pour, but only a nice one.
Keeping that in mind, the pricing for this item in the United States is quite high. It fetches about $115. Even in the UK it is a pricey buy at £65.