Thursday, May 20, 2021

Review / Kilchoman PX Sherry Cask Matured

This whisky is the latest limited edition from the family-owned Islay distillery of Kilchoman. The Kilchoman PX Sherry Cask Matured is constructed from 33 casks in total - nine full maturation ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks and 24 that were finished in ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for between 12 and 18 months. Pedro Ximenez is a sweet style of dessert sherry made from grapes that remain on the vine longer than usual. The whisky has been produced using malted barley with a high peating level of 50ppm, which is a higher level than in regular Kilchoman releases. There are just 12,000 bottles.

Kilchoman is one of Scotland's smaller single malt distilleries and is named after the local church parish. It is located on Rockside Farm on the remote west coast of the famous whisky island of Islay. The first spirit was produced in June 2005 and the first single malt was released in November 2009. Kilchoman is independently owned and now has a production capacity of just over 350,000 litres a year, following a recent ambitious expansion of the facilities. It is one of the few distilleries in Scotland to grown some of their own barley and to have a traditional floor malting in operation.

"Pedro Ximenez casks are not the easiest to work with. That is why we decided on a combination of full maturation and finishing, to balance the distinct PX influence with that of our spirit. I am delighted with the result; big and bold but with a delightful poise and balance of flavour." 
Anthony Wills - Founder of Kilchoman.
The Kilchoman PX Sherry Cask Matured is bottled at 47.3% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It is available now in selected specialist retailers globally. A bottle will cost £75/ $105 US per bottle.
Our tasting notes
The colour is deep amber and the nose is rich, sweet and smoky. The peat strikes first and there are aromas of coal tar soap, charcoal ash and damp earth. Then comes a wave of sweetness - think of dried fruit (especially raisins and currants), caramel and black treacle. Hints of seaweed and malted barley also develop in the background.

On the palate this whisky feels rich and viscous. Now it is the sweetness that hits first. There are plenty of dried fruity notes - imagine raisins, currants, dates and figs with a hint of candied orange peel - and then deep sweet notes of caramel, black treacle and molasses. Some heather honey, golden syrup and malted biscuits develop also. This biscuity quality has a bittersweet and creamy edge to it. The expressive peat smoke wraps around all of the sweet and fruity characteristics, and seems to accentuate them. The smoke has a burnt and charcoal-like note along with a peppery hot feel. Late notes of damp moss, Autumn leaves and salty seaweed rise out of the smoke to give a bitter and acrid tang. Warmth is added with a hint of cinnamon and crystallised ginger.

The finish is long and rich. The treacle-like sweetness lingers well, as do the dark dried fruits. An interesting and previously undetetced note of milk chocolate also comes through. But it is the smoke that lasts longest. It dominates the latter stages and gives a drying and ashy ending.

What's the verdict?
This is another lovely limited edition from Kilchoman and one that shows off their more heavily peated spirit well. It works well in combination with the rich and expressive characteristics that come from maturation in ex-Pedro Ximenez barrels. This PX Sherry Cask Matured is a big, bold and punchy whisky that seems to bring the best out of both the spirit and cask type. And its exceptionally tasty. Very good indeed.

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