Kilchoman Madeira Cask

Madeira Cask Matured
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
50% ABV (100 proof)
~$100 (sample provided)

Background: my understanding is that this is approximately 4 year old whisky that has been matured fully (as opposed to finished) in ex-madeira casks. Madeira can vary from light and acidic to decadent and dessert-like, so it will be interesting to see which flavors shine through in this whisky (and hazard a guess as to the barrels used).

Color: very orange-tinted medium brown

Smell: honestly not very different from the 5th edition 100% Islay expression I recently reviewed. It's slightly rounder on the nose, with almond sweetness and citrus acidity providing a nice contrast to the big black pepper notes and the backbone of smoky cereal grains.

Taste: very interesting, but not my favorite. In a nutshell, I think the very delicious madeira-driven flavors (sweet almonds in particular) aren't enough to overcome what seems to be too little time maturing in wood. It's a little too far into "new make" territory, particularly with the mouth-drying and bitter finish. The major flavors are smoked cereal grains and astringent nuttiness.

Overall: Not bad, but my least favorite of the three Kilchoman expressions I've tasted. "B-" for me. That said, I hope they didn't dump all their Madeira barrels for this release, because this would be fascinating to taste in another five years once the edges have softened out of this whisky.