Samples #dramset2: Kilchoman Single Bourbon Cask vs Kilchoman Single Sherry Cask

New type of reviews on my blog: Head to heads. This time the subjects are the two new special releases for Whisky Import Nederland of two new Kilchomans. While the sample bottles are standing with the label at the opposite site the colour immediately gets my attention: One of them is supposed to be matured on a Sherry Cask but there is almost no colour difference between the two of them! Statistics: The Single Bourbon cask (#99) is distilled 07.06.2006, bottled at 60,9% on 07.10.2011 while the Single Sherry cask (#317) has been distilled 08.11.2006 and bottled on 10.10.2011. The tasting glasses used are Libbey tasting glasses. Let’s pour them!

The nose:

The sherry cask immediately screams out Oceanside! Beautiful salty influences accompanied by somewhat sweet smoke and peat. Just at the background a little bit of sulphur disguised by the peat. After a while the sherry cask displays it influence, dark dried sugared fruits (grapes, prunes) appears. Very pleasant nose.

The bourbon cask isn’t much outward going. More delicate and reserved. Delicate smoke and peat accompanied by vanilla and cloves. Difficult nose.

The winner of this part is definitely the Sherry cask. Explodes in fragrant on pouring, which I like a lot.

The taste:

The sherry cask is pleasant sweet but with quite a lot smoke and peat power also. Alcohol level kicks in. Again the raw salty flavour is mellowed down by the sherry influence and displays quite a lot of fruits: the obvious grapes but also some prunes, cherries and even blackcurrant keeps popping up in my mind. Again this is playful and very pleasant to play around with.

The bourbon cask is a lot sweater with a lot of vanilla and gentle fruits before the high ABV kicks in. The Islay influence of smoke and peat is present but more gentle and at the background. This one feels young but I am missing something in it. Have some bitter tannin present also. This one is rather modest and afraid to show itself.

Again the winner for me is the Sherry cask, just an excellent balance between the sherry and the Islay, while the Bourbon cask, don’t know what happened there.

The finish:

The sherry cask finishes long and warming with al lot of smoke and ashes coming up your nostrils while swallowing. Just a bit too much alcohol here, it burns in your throat. Again it feels pleasant dark and soothing for a cold winter day (if we ever will have a winter over here!).

The bourbon cask finishes in honeyed sweetness with a touch of saltiness and smokiness. Pleasant finish but not much power and disappearing quite fast. Feeling very young.

As you could expect the winner is again the Sherry cask, feels far more mature than the bourbon cask.

The balance:

The sherry cask displays a great balance between the short maturation on a refill sherry cask (hence the colour) and the usual Islay influence. It is just excellent. The bourbon cask is simpler, not unpleasant but rather dull and feeling a lot younger, while in fact this one is several months older.


For me this was the first time to review whiskies in this way and I liked it, although it is somewhat difficult to score them right. The winner of this head to head is obvious: The sherry cask is just an excellent dram, while the bourbon cask is more modest, needs more time and probably some added water also. So the points Sherry cask 92 and Bourbon cask 80. Prices are quite high for such young whiskies, somewhere in the eighties.


About Admin

Whisky enthousiast. Loves Whisky, Wine, Music and a good meal.
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