Kilchoman 2013 Small Batch Release

Kilchoman Small Batch Release 2013 Sherry
Distillery/Brand: Kilchoman | Region: Islay | ABV: 58.2% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93

Review
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.

Rating: 93

Bernheim Original

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Distillery/Brand: Bernheim
Region: USA
ABV: 45%
Colour: Young Sauternes

Nose: 24
Taste: 24
Finish: 23
Balance: 22

Review
I started drinking whisky only because of my love for bourbons. Big bold personalities unashamed of smothering you with flavors whereas most Scottish single malts chose to remain restrained and courteous.

And Bernheim Original was one of the first that I managed to get my hands on.

Nose: Made from 100% wheat grain the nose is an intense pounding of warm chocolate and maple syrup with squished blue berries and raisins. All poured into a bowl of steaming hot caramel marchiato with a few cardamom pods.

Palate: The intensity continues on the palate with the same clove infused maple syrup drizzled on a chocolate orange cake. Fantastic.

Finish: The long finish is once again bristling with chocolate covered cloves.

This is brilliant stuff. Unafraid and brash with a wagon full of attitude.

Rating: 93