Comparison Tasting: Comraich Batch No. 1 – 4

As part of the Kilchoman Online Tasting series, a tasting of the previous four Comraich releases with George and Peter Wills took place on 21 October 2021. These are the special bottlings for the bars of the same name, which can only be tasted there (and recently and certainly for a short time in the Kilchoman Visitor Centre) and do not go on sale. In the meantime, there is a worldwide network of currently 106 whisky bars, which are distinguished by an exceptional range of whiskies in general and Kilchoman whiskies in particular, and have been granted Comraich bar status by Kilchoman. An overview can be found here.



The participants of the tasting were given the rare opportunity to taste all four previous editions in parallel. And we also took the opportunity to evaluate the batches in detail. Here are our impressions:


Comraich Batch No. 1

With the 1st batch of Comraich, Kilchoman presented a vatting of two 10-year-old bourbon barrels and a good 9-year-old oloroso sherry butt in autumn 2017.

Cask Numbers: 146/2007, 265/2007, 419/2007

Cask types: Ex-Bourbon Barrels (146 & 265/2007), Oloroso Sherry Butt (419/2007)

Dates Filled: 13.6.2007, 29.8.2007, 4.12.2007

Date Bottled: 14.10.2017

Strength: 55,5 % abv

Phenol level: 50 ppm



Nose: At first, lots of peat smoke: ashy, “bonfire on the beach”. The sherry content of about 50% is clearly noticeable – sherry notes predominate: sultanas, dark and dried fruits, furniture polish, coffee. Also herbs and pepper. Especially with water, the bourbon barrel notes are more noticeable: vanilla, honey and citrus. 87

Taste: Very dry on the tongue but sweet and fruity at the same time: dark berry fruits, cherries, sultanas. Plus lots of spice (herbs, thyme), pepper and coffee notes. 87

Finish: Medium length, dry-smoky with a very slight earthy note at the end. 86

The sherry cask included in the vatting was obviously very active, as already suggested by the colour. The sherry notes make the whisky quite drinkable, but still a bit edgy due to the distinct spice notes. I miss the bourbon barrel notes a bit here. 87 / 100 points



Nose: Warm and greasy peat smoke, raisins, blackberries, vanilla and honey. The nose very nicely reflects the composition of the barrel. Has quite a bit of pepper and paprika seasoning. Warm tar, seaweed. 88

Taste: Very powerful start with cold smoke, hot tin roof and pepper. Juniper berries, thyme, tarragon and some dried wild herbs. Cold espresso, dark chocolate. 87

Finish: Medium length, very dry. Well-seasoned peppers, dark chocolate, roasted hazelnuts. 86

Although not that young anymore, he is moving forward quite a bit. This is also a good whisky in this form, but if it were a little more cautious, it should break the 90-point mark without any problems.  87 / 100 points


Comraich Batch No. 2

The 2nd batch of Comraich, which arrived in Comraich bars worldwide in spring 2019, represents a vatting of three 1st fill ex-bourbon barrels aged just under 8 years.

Cask Numbers: 206/2011, 207/2011, 208/2011

Cask type: 1st Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrels

Date Filled: 21.4.2011

Date Bottled: 11.3.2019

Strength: 55,3 % abv

Phenol level: 50 ppm



Nose: The nose immediately says: middle-aged whisky matured in bourbon barrels (no more New Make notes but also hardly any wood etc.; some furniture polish), with a rather reserved nose. The peat smoke is quite faint for a Kilchoman, its character and ppm hard to assess. First citrus notes, then yellow fruits (apple, pear), vanilla and honey. 86

Taste: Lots of sugary sweet pear and apple compote, plus vanilla, honey, caramel and some spice. Not as dry as comparable Kilchomans. 89

Finish: Medium length. Becoming a little drier. The compote sweetness lingers for a long time, showing more citrus notes at the end. 89

I could imagine a standard release of Kilchoman with an age statement in the future! 88 / 100 points



Nose: Clear difference to batch 1 in the nose. The dark and partially dried fruits are completely missing (understandably and logically, since no sherry cask was used). Apple and pear pieces, the pears candied. Vanilla, honey, fresh green branches, fresh clippings. The smoke is subtle and fresh. 87

Taste: Oh, what a fantastic sweetness he puts on the tongue. Only 0.2 percentage points less ABV than batch 1, but incomparably softer and creamier. Caramel, white chocolate, almond butter. Ripe red apples, smoked strawberries, fresh rhubarb, quince jelly. Just fantastic. 91

Finish: Medium to long, dry smoke, applesauce, strawberries, milk chocolate. Everything that makes it so brilliant on the tongue is still there for a long time. 90

Seldom had a Kilchoman in a glass who holds himself back in the nose while he shoots out of all the barrel on the tongue. Would that be a whisky, if the nose would drag too.  89 / 100 points


Comraich Batch No. 3

The 3rd batch of Kilchoman Comraich was the first 100% Islay whisky to be tasted in this series in autumn 2019. The vatting consisted of two almost 11-year-old bourbon barrels and a good 9-year-old Oloroso sherry butt.

Cask Numbers: 524/2008, 528/2008, 275/2010

Cask types: 1st Fill-Ex-Bourbon Barrels (524 & 528/2008), Oloroso Sherry Butt (275/2010)

Dates Filled: 16.10.2008, 28.5.2010

Date Bottled: 10.10.2019

Strength: 55,7 % abv

Phenol level: approx. 20 ppm



Nose: Strawberry, strawberry, strawberry – the typical fruitiness of a 100% Islay whisky dominates everything here. Plus a nice ashy peat smoke. Surprisingly few sherry notes: some coffee, spice and furniture polish – but all rather restrained. 89

Taste: Very sweet and oily, again all-dominant strawberry, bacony smoke, some spice, pepper and furniture polish behind, malty and creamy. 90

Finish: Medium length, fruity, a little smoky-dry. 89

Although very similar in age and cask composition to Batch No. 1, the sherry cask was much less active here. In addition, the typical 100% Islay fruit notes dominate, which I like very much. 89 / 100 points



Nose: Although pulled through a sherry casks, the nose bears a clear resemblance to Batch 2, in which only bourbon casks were used. Sometimes a bit pointed, with herbs and lots of pepper. Withdrawn note of smoke, rather a cold campfire than a crackling beach fire. Warm tar, seaweed, salty sea spray. 86

Taste: Like Batch 2, Batch 3 is the purest revelation on the tongue: sweet blackberries and strawberries, fantastic greasy smoke that goes with it, pepper, salt, seaweed, warm marine diesel. Fruit sweetness and smoke / flavor complement each other perfectly. Yoghurt chocolate, toffee, malt, hardly dry, creamy for a very long time. 91

Finish: Gets drier over time, but holds on to all of the aromas on the palate for a very long time. The peat smoke is still cautious and stands faithfully alongside the long-lasting fruit aromas. 90

And another one (like Comraich Batch 2) that makes the nose understatement, then gives it everything on the palate and in the finish. 89 / 100 points


Comraich Batch No. 4

The 4th batch of Comraich released in 2021 is a vatting of three bourbon barrels filled in 2011 with an age of just over 9 years.

Cask Numbers: 205/2011, 467/2011, 775/2011

Cask type: Ex-Bourbon Barrels

Dates Filled: 21.4.2011, 4.8.2011, 9.12.2011

Date Bottled: 8.2.2021

Strength: 55,0 % abv

Phenol level: 50 ppm



Nose: Once again quite restrained, but typical bourbon cask kilchoman in the 10 year window, ashy peat smoke followed by citrus and vanilla. Then the cooked yellow fruits, caramel and malt. 87

Taste: Very sweet and fruity, seems a bit more mature than Batch No. 2, i.e. the yellow fruits (apple and pear) are already replaced by apricots and tropical fruits. Slight hints of furniture polish and of course not to forget the distinct peat smoke dryness on the palate. 91

Finish: Long, sweet, dry peat smoke, quite salty at the end. Top. 90

Of the four Comraichs, the (bourbon) cask maturation is already furthest advanced here. The result is a really tasty and well-balanced whisky, whose nose could only be a bit more concise. 90 / 100 points



Nose: Reminiscent of batch 2 on the nose: apple and pear wedges, honey, vanilla, pepper. Looks younger than he is with fresh grass clippings and green branches. Caramel, malt, grain notes. 86

Taste: And it also resembles Batch 2 on the tongue: So sweet, so soft that you don’t think it’s 55%. Creamy and soft start, sweet rapeseed honey, vanilla pudding, milk coffee. There is also clear peat smoke with hints of smoked ham. Warm tar, nori leaves, salt. 91

Finish: Long, long, long. This peat smoke note, this subtle fruity sweetness, this absolutely balanced spiciness: a dream. 91

If only the nose could keep up with the rest … 89 / 100 points



Looking at the previous batches in context, it becomes clear that Kilchoman does not want to impress the guests in its Comraich bars with experimental cask maturations or the like, but shows what a typical middle-aged Kilchoman is capable of offering. And as our rather high ratings show, in our opinion that really is quite a lot. Kilchoman distillate matured for approx. 10 years in bourbon barrels and partly rounded off with a little sherry cask content makes for really delicious whiskies!