April 7, 2015

Review: Kilchoman PX Finish

We have a thing for Kilchoman.  Besides being the first new Islay distillery in a hundred and fifty years, they've been doing really interesting things with young peaty malts.  We brought a bottle of Machir Bay to a party last week and it was a huge hit.  People who had never tried Kilchoman before became fans, and even some folks who weren't fans of peated whisky got into it.  The most common reaction was that the smoke was so prevalent on the nose, but then the malt was so smooth, that they were presently surprised.

So when Impex announced that they were releasing a Pedro Ximenez sherry finished Kilchoman, we got excited.  From Lagavulin to Laphroaig to Benriach, you rarely go wrong combining a heavily peated scotch with finishing in a PX barrel.  The sweet raisin-y richness of the sherry barrel brings out something special in the smoldering peat of the whisky.  We got a sample from Impex and poured it next to their single cask sherry matured release which was already a favorite.

Kilchoman PX Finish Single Cask 118.4 proof

Nose: Heavy heavy butterscotch.  There's some phenol/rubber peat mixing in with a cake-y syrupy sweetness.  Lemon cake and olive oil.  White grapes and apples come out at the end.

Palate: Wow kind of a burner here.  Sort of the opposite of what we've come to expect from Kilchoman, the nose is super smooth and the palate is hot and spicy with tons of smoke.

Finish: Very rough on the throat.  Hate to say it but this one is just not working for us.  The elements aren't really coming together here.  On paper it's got all the things we like: Kilchoman's peaty young fiery malt with PX finish at cask strength.  But it's sort of like all the worst qualities of all these things.  Not much of the classic Kilchoman white chocolate smoothness, with a really harsh ashtray peat thing going on, and the sherry influence is very sweet but kind of floating over the peat and disconnected.  Perhaps this was a quick sherry finish that didn't have time to integrate with the malt?  Unclear but this one's a pass.

Kilchoman Sherry Finish Single Cask 115.8 Proof

Nose: More in the pocket here with grassy farmy herbals, lots of smoke, some of those roasted nuts, chocolate and nougat. 

Palate: Definitely digging the straight sherry finish.  Very smooth with some nice red grapes, ripe fall fruits, and little pops of hot spicy chiles.  

Finish: Nice, long, and incredibly drinkable at cask strength.  Like most of the Kilchoman single casks we've tried, this is a real treat.  Definitely one to check out.


Ok so... weird... we really didn't dig the PX.  Maybe it's an age thing, most of the PX cask whiskies we've tried have been much older.  Maybe it takes some time for that pairing to work.  In any case, if you still haven't tried Kilchoman you definitely need to dive in.  The Machir Bay or the 100% Islay (home grown, "farm-to-bottle" barley grown right on Islay!) are awesome places to start.  The Loch Gorm sherry finish is delicious, and if you can find some of the cask strength single barrels definitely pick one up.  Maybe skip the PX finish, kind of disappointing, but grab the straight sherry finish and enjoy.  The perfect young malt for a chilly spring evening to enjoy with old friends.  



  1. A local LQ bought both of these and I sipped them SBS, and of course, my findings are direct opposite then yours. :).

    I did get the wonky phenols in the nose on the PX as you did but flavor wise the PX was way more robust and fulfilling than the sherry. Would I pay $120 for either? Nope, and by the amount of dust on them, seems others felt the same way too.

    1. To be fair we only had a sample and not the whole bottle, but this one just didn't ring the bell for us. The single sherry casks we've picked up from Kilchoman have been around $100, which is definitely high for a ~5-year, but it's good stuff and we don't mind supporting a real craft distillery. Definitely not an everyday drinker though. The standard releases are more reasonably priced. Catch you later funkster!

    2. Same reaction as funky - the sherry finish was vary harsh. The Pedro X was better.