"This has some lovely port notes in the nose that are hidden on the palate"
(Photo from Whiskybase)
Lately, I have the felling that finishing on casks that formerly contained port has become more popular. Usually this is Ruby port, which is the most produced and cheapest type of port. Ruby port is blended from multiple vintages and spends on average three years in a cask, although often steel tanks are also used. Often notes of red fruit, chocolate and syrup are associated with this type port. I do like a glass of port now and then, usually a 10 to 20 year old tawny port. With regard to port-finished whisky I have not really been a fan. I find that often the notes transferred from the port cask into the whisky are sour, tannic and do not resemble the sweet, full fruitiness that I adore in a glass of port. This could be due to the type of port that was formerly in the cask, but personally I think that is much more the quality of the port. I have had cheap port and it was sour, simple and not that pleasant. However, Kilchoman has build up a reputation of good quality casks and, more importantly, this spirit has spend its entire maturation time in a port cask.
Acrid smoke initially, which I often associated with Kilchoman, combined with lots of sweetness. The port notes are clearly noticeable showing a good deep, fruity port. I would even say there is some sort of rancio present. Furthermore, cheese, more red fruits, in particular strawberries, strawberry confiture, salty crackers and a sweet form of coal dust. Really lots of fruits, strawberries with balsamic vinagar. Water brings more balanced fruits, but also an increased alcoholic kick and more acrid smoke. I would say leave out the water despite the 50%.
Starts off with a lot of ashes and acrid smokiness. Pretty fierce and the fruitiness stays in the background. Probably water will help to tame this… So with water there is less smoke, but fruits do not really come forward. I do detect more beach sand, salt and minerals. The aftertaste is reasonably long with more salt and the port is much more present here. Cherries, crackers and salty cheese.
Finally I have found a Scottish single malt that has received some proper good port notes from the cask. I really like the cheesy fruit nose, however, it tends to clash with the spirit. Moreover, the palate is unfortunately lacking most of these wonderful port notes until the finish. Maybe a few more years in the cask would help the get these through. Good effort, but I await the full potential of this.
Big thanks to for sharing the sample!
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •