Comparison: Sherry cask Kilchoman

Comparison: Sherry cask Kilchoman
2020 Fino vs. 2021 Loch Gorm vs. 2021 Pedro Ximenez

A long overdue third instalment of our ‘Comparison series‘. This time we are focusing on the sweet-smoky notes of sherry matured Kilchoman. Specifically, the 2020 Fino maturation, 2021 Loch Gorm (Oloroso maturation), and 2020 Pedro Ximenez maturation.

Distillery History

Founded in 2005 by the Wills Family, Kilchoman was the first distillery to be built on the island of Islay in over 120 years. Their 100% Islay philosophy is embedded in the very heart of the distillery. As a farm-to-bottle production, they produce Scotland’s only Single Farm Single Malt. To this day, it is still very much a family affair. With husband and wife Anthony and Kathy the masterminds behind the vision, and their sons George, James, and Peter taking up various roles within the Sales and Marketing teams.

All their whisky is non-chill filtered and natural colour. The core range of four expressions, include Machir Bay, Sanaig, Loch Gorm, and 100% Islay. Additionally, each year they release a number of limited expressions and single casks; often with experimental finishes and maturations.

Tasting Notes

Before we jump into the comparison, we thought it would be helpful to provide a brief overview of each expression with a short information profile, and some brief tasting notes.

Fino Sherry Matured

Nose: dry smoke, dried Christmas fruits, candied nuts, fire-pit on a dry summer night, quite noticeable peat
Palate: starts sweet quickly devolves to dry smoke, subtle fruits, brown sugar biscuits, light mouth feel

  • Limited release in 2020
  • 10,500 bottles
  • 12 Spanish sherry butts
  • 11 first-fill and one re-fill
  • 46% ABV
  • Retails for roughly £75

Fino is the driest and palest of the traditional varieties of fortified wine, made from the Palomino grape. Although it is not unheard of for a whisky to be matured or finished in Fino sherry casks, it is far less common than Oloroso or Pedro Ximenez.

Annual release
17,000 bottles
24 casks – 20 first-fill and four re-fill
46% ABV
Retails for £70 – £80

Loch Gorm 2021

Nose: sweet smoke, vanilla, honey, caramel, fresh red fruits, light red summer berries
Palate: fresh red fruits balance the smoke, sweet and fruity, oily and full mouth feel

Oloroso sherry has it’s origins in the South-West of Spain. Famously used by the Glenfarclas Distillery, Oloroso sherry is a popular choice for whisky maturation and finishes.

PX Sherry Cask Matured

Nose: very sweet and rich, BBQ smoke, browned sugar, stewed plums, dark berries
Palate: creamy, sticky, chewy texture, brown sugar molasses, BBQ smoke, stewed fruits

  • Limited release in 2021
  • 12,000 bottles
  • 33 casks – nine fully matured, 24 finished for 12 to 18 months
  • 47.3% ABV
  • Retails for £65 – £75

Pedro Ximenez is the principle style of sweet sherry from Southern Spain. Due to the sweet nature, PX sherry is typically used as a finishing cask, and is favoured among peated whiskies due to providing a great contrast to the smoky flavours.

Compare and contrast

Colour wise is it clear that the Fino is lighter than the Loch Gorm and the PX; with the colour becoming darker as the sherry becomes sweeter. This lightness is again mirrored in the taste, with both the Loch Gorm and PX feeling more decadent than the Fino.

In terms of flavour the Oloroso of the Loch Gorm and the PX are once again more similar than the Fino. With heavy notes of fresh red fruits and cooked pitted fruits. The Fino on the other hand leans more into raisins, sultanas, prunes, and other dried fruits.

Texturally, the viscosity of the PX is most noticeable; creating a lovely oily coating throughout your mouth. In start contrast the Fino expression is exceptionally dry and light, leaving your mouth feeling parched wanting to come back for more.

Moving between all three the differences are clear. Each dram lending itself to a different time of year and place. The Fino feels perfect for a warm summers evening, the Loch Gorm a great autumn warmer. With the PX rounding off the pack as a perfect snowy-winters dram!

Final Thoughts

In our opinion all three of these whiskies deserve a place on your shelf. They are sufficiently distinct, and all exceptionally tasty. If I were pushed to chose just one, the PX would win out as I adore the incredible fresh fruit sweetness in contrast to the salty-peat smoke.

Looking in detail at the impact the different sherry maturation has had on the same spirit has definitely piqued our interest in sherry as a standalone drink. The variety of flavour profiles is immense. Do you drink sherry? Let us know your favourite in the comments below.

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