Kilchoman 2008 Vintage

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Distillery/Brand: Kilchoman | Region: Islay | ABV: 46% | Colour: Gold
Nose: 8.0 | Palate: 8.0 | Finish: 8.0 | Overall Score: 8.0

Review
It’s been a really long day. Nothing that would kill me, mind you. Just that the sometimes the rigors of daily life can eventually catch up with you. And that’s when you need the escape. That one happy place you can go to and pretend nothing around you really matters.

And for me that place is Islay.

Especially now given how fresh my memories are of that wonderful place. The clean air, the calming green and simply the thought of being surrounded by so many amazing whiskies.

On our second day on the island I convinced the others to head on down to Kilchoman for, not just their whiskies, but their sinfully delicious Machir Bay soaked chocolate brownie. If there is one thing you must do before you die is try that dessert in the distillery cafe. It is just absolutely divine.

After stuffing my face with a tasty roast beef sandwich and the famed brownie I sat down with something else that was equally divine and also made at Kilchoman. The seven year old 2008 Vintage.

This is the first time Kilchoman have released a whisky this old for the general public. Though, I’m not counting the one-off 10 year old released a few months ago for a cancer charity auction in support of, then distillery manager, John MacLellan. He sadly lost his battle against the same disease three months ago. RIP good man.

The Limited Edition 2008 Vintage is a vatting of fresh ex American bourbon barrels filled in July 2008 and bottled in August 2015. Seems like older Kilchomans are just as tasty as their younger siblings.

My sample is from an open bottle and served at 46%

Nose: That signature Kilchoman toasted barley. And the equally familiar smoke. Then there’s that typical Islay grist. Cereal-y with a soft layer of peat. A hint of green lime. Melon. Touch of oak. Green berries. Another classic Kilchoman nose. Still seems quite young and sprightly even though it’s a good 18 months or so older than the oldest Kilchoman on the market. 8.0

Palate: Crisp barley. Nice solid oak. That Islay smoke. Vanilla. Dries mid-palate. Now a little sweeter. More chocolate. More fruit. Very creamy mouthfeel. It’s not overly complex but I didn’t expect it to be. Just the classic Kilchoman flavours coming through nicely. 8.0

Finish: Long. Drying. Touch of oak. Black pepper. 8.0

Overall Comments: I love this distillery. Love everything about it. And so I’m probably a little biased. But then again I’m a sucker for good old-fashioned bourbon barrels done right. Clean crisp flavours where I can taste the distillery. And this one ticks all those boxes for me.

Overall Score: 8.0

Kilchoman 10th Anniversary Release

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Distillery/Brand: Kilchoman | Region: Islay | ABV: 58.2% | Colour: Pale Straw
Nose: 23 | Taste: 18 | Finish: 18 | Balance: 19 | Rating: 78

Review
Kilchoman is a quaint little distillery that has defied the odds and is fast becoming a name to reckon with.

Good quality whisky making that is leading the way in making people realize that age is but a number. And by that I don’t mean they’re churning out NAS statements like everyone else out there.

Quite the contrary.

They take pride in telling people the exact age of their whiskies. From the time of distillation to the exact day of bottling. They don’t hide behind fancy marketing jargon and instead let the whisky do the talking.

And for that they have my respect.

Their whiskies remind me of old school Ardbegs with their Islay grist and barley smokiness beautifully balanced with a woody sweetness. After an initial run-in with a couple of less than stellar bottlings I am now a fan.

I picked up a mini of the 10th Anniversary bottling when I visited the distillery during my Islay visit last month for the Festival. And since I’ve already made it clear that I’m a big fan this particular bottling comes as a bit of a disappointment.

To mark 10 years since it opened it’s doors the distillery, along with it’s official single cask Feis Ile bottling, released a special expression with whiskies from each year starting from 2005 until 2012 from both bourbon and sherry barrels.

My sample is from a 50ml mini purchased at the distillery and bottled at 58.2%

Nose: Sugarcane. Quite tart. White wine chardonnay. White pepper. Hint of fruit. Dried apricots. Green limes. That lovely Islay peat. Fine grist. Lots of barley. So close to the old school Ardbegs. Brine. Hint of cottage cheese. Whiff of grass. I quite like the nose. (23/25)

Palate: Good weight. Initially the mouthfeel is great. But then you get this wave of bitterness. I have never tasted a whisky this bitter ever. I try and get some fruits but, my word, there is something wrong here. (18/25)

Finish: Bitter. Spicy. Bitter. (18/25)

Overall Comments: Such a shame about this expression. There is definitely a bad cask in here somewhere and there’s lots of it, too. A great idea marred by a miscreant. But that’s not going to stop me from being a fan. In fact it tells me the guys over at Kilchoman are human.

Rating: 78