For the culmination of our Fèis Ìle 2022 release reviews, we're taking a look at another offering from Bruichladdich, this time a single cask, as well as the oldest whisky that Kilchoman have released thus far.
Friends of Bruichladdich Valinch (Fèis Ìle 2022)
Price: £75.00 (500ml)
This 2022 Fèis Ìle bottling by Laddie was matured in a sherry cask for 16 years. There were 800 bottles available. If you’re unaware, the two gents on the bottle are Derek Mather and John McDougall who among other things look after the Friend’s of Bruichladdich Facebook group.
An instant hit of raspberry ripple ice cream as soon as we opened the bottle. We’re getting a lovely creaminess but as we get our noses closer, we start to contend with the peppery alcohol, and expectedly so at almost 64%! Pushing past the punch of booze, we’re getting strawberry laces, a little lime zest, some red currants and black pepper in the background. It’s not particularly sweet, with some wood and dried leather appearing as you spend more time with it.
The initial sip is hot, but the alcohol dissipates quickly leaving a surprisingly salty flavour in the mouth. It’s like if you added a little too much salt to your strawberry mousse. We’re getting some dry fruits, and by dry we mean bone dry, with barely any sugar left in them. There’s also a leathery, tobacco flavour here which sits with you through the medium length finish. It’s tannic, with some bitter chocolate and ground coffee. The mouthfeel has a nice, oily texture to it.
Nose (with water)
Water has tamed the alcohol and has brought out some deep, rich sherry aromas. Cloves, nutmeg, liquorice with a backdrop of moist oak and ginger snap biscuits. There’s some dates appearing, mellow vanilla notes, walnuts and even a hint of lavender, although we might be going mad. Stripping back the alcohol brings this dram to life, giving it infinitely more complexity, we’re excited for the reduced palate.
Palate (with water)
Again, the saltiness appears on the initial palate, giving way to cinnamon sticks, toffee, caramel sauce and bitter oak flavours. The water has brought out some of the more luscious flavours, the caramel is really singing here for us. It hasn’t brought out too much additional sweetness however, this is still a very dry dram. There’s still a tingle of alcohol, some dried fruits and the aforementioned tannic notes of leather and coffee. The finish keeps its length as well.
This is a tough one. Personally, we gravitate more towards sweeter sherried whiskies. This is not one of those. Saying that, we can really appreciate the quality of cask and spirit gone into making this whisky. It’s got all the hallmarks of a great dram, just a little too dry and hot for us. Water helps immensely bringing the dram to life, so we’d 100% recommend adding in a good splash. Now to score this we’ll give it a 7.5/10, but for those who prefer a drier, heavier style of sherried whisky, this could easily be a 8.5 or 9 for you…
Kilchoman 16yo Fèis Ìle 2022 Release
The Kilchoman 2022 Fèis release is a 16yo, that was produced from five 1st fill Bourbon barrels. Only 865 bottles were available.
We’re initially met with the farmyard funk we usually get from Kilchoman, accented by a fair amount of zestiness - lemons, limes, a little grapefruit and some green apple peel. There’s a nice honey aroma, along with some cold butter on crumpets. There’s light peat here, wet earth and hay bales. Giving it some air, we’re getting a nice vanilla sweetness, a little yeast and some peppery spice reminding us of smoked paprika.
Prominent earthy, salty peat following into creamy vanilla flavours. It’s got a slight warehouse mustiness, black pepper spice and salted caramel. You can feel the alcohol, but it’s got a good balance with the cask and spirit. We’re getting a little key lime pie, with good mouthfeel and quite a long finish. The peat is lighter than other Kilchoman releases that we’ve tried, likely due to the age. Going back we’re getting some malted biscuits, tea leaves and a little fudge.
Nose (with water)
We’re getting more vanilla and more apple now, with the peat receding into the background. There’s still that funk there, but we’re finding more breadiness, wood and barley sugars. Going back we’re getting some of that citrus we found before, mostly in the form of freshly squeezed lime juice.
Palate (with water)
More of that salted caramel, wet oak, vanilla cream, and a little ginger. The peat feels drier now, and there’s a slight bitterness that’s been introduced. There’s something here that’s reminding us of Biscoff too. The mouthfeel retains its nice texture and the finish stays roughly the same length.
Older Kilchoman is quite delicious. The age seems to remove some of the rougher edges and gives a little more balance. The bourbon casks provide a lovely vanilla sweetness that works well with the funky, peaty spirit. We’d avoid adding water here as we don’t think it benefits from it, only really giving a more bitter, drying sensation once diluted. We’re excited to see how Kilchoman progresses as more of their stocks reach this maturity, especially when looking at different cask types. Our only complaint would be that perhaps it’s a little simple of a dram, but it’s got great balance to make up for that.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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