Distillery/Brand: Kilchoman | Region: Islay | ABV: 58.2% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93
So this is what happened. Around three years ago (in 2011) our local distributor organized an evening with a certain Anthony Wills of Kilchoman.
Having read interesting things about the distillery (it being 100% Islay – from growing it’s own barley, malting it, distilling it and maturing it on the tiny island) I decided to pick up two expressions before even attending the evening – a sherry finish and a bourbon single cask both 2011 and both around 5 years of age. As yet unopened.
The two that I tasted that evening with Anthony were, frankly, not to my liking at all. In fact they were quite less than ordinary. One was a Summer 2010 Release and the other introduced only as a special bottling for the Dubai Duty Free which I think was also a 2010 release.
Anyway both were quite terrible and I decided to write off the distillery scoffing at their plans to market such young whiskies. I just assumed that it was the lack of maturation that was responsible for the quality or lack thereof.
How wrong I was.
My curiosity was aroused recently when the Loch Gorm and Machir Bay started receiving rave reviews and so when I spotted this 2013 Small Batch Release sherry finish sitting on a friends’ shelf I decided to pull it out for a swig.
Distilled in October 2008 and bottled on 30th November 2013 this five year old spirit is served at a cool 58.2%. After 4 years in first fill bourbon casks it’s finished in Oloroso and is bottle no 87 of 1000.
Nose: Peat. Cinnamon. Orange marmalade. Nutty peppers. Sherry. Hint of iodine. Bay leaf. Wood shavings. Mild fennel. Feels perfectly balanced with the just the right amount of sweet and spice with a nice bay leaf twist.
Palate: Simply stunning. Oily with lots of sherry and peppers. Red spices. Cumin. Clove. Mid-palate it turns sweet. Orange citrus. Fudge. Dark plum. And that crisp betel leaf and acacia mix.
Finish: Long. Minty with a hint of pepper and green tobacco leaf.
A stingy splash of water will make the delivery juicier and brings out the citrus even more so.
A beautiful young whisky. Kilchoman, I owe you an apology for writing you off.