Today is Kilchoman day at Feis Ile 2016. The youngest distillery on Islay is 10 years old and we finally see some longer matured releases where releases age creeps up from 4 and 5 years to 5 and 6 years and the Festival bottling is over 8 years old.
But today the review showcases what a young whisky can be when its paired with good active casks. The Kilchoman Madeira cask is the first ever Madeira release from the distillery, 17 casks of 1st fill Madeira were used to create this whisky. Peat battling Madeira – who wins?
Kilchoman Madeira Cask 2011 (50%, Bottled 2015, £75.99/€149,95/$140)
Nose: A very sweet nose. nutty and somewhat winey with tannins, fruity with a lot of apricots. The peat is very restrained, cured BBQ meat, sweet smoke and generally the Kilchoman peat profile is right there in the background but muted. Again apricots and white pepper, not a very complex nose but it’s lovely, balanced and rounded.
Palate: The peat is stronger and a bit sharper here than the nose, ashes and mild tannins with a bit of acidity. It’s less sweet but still carries that apricots fruitiness, cured meat, ashes and oak wood spices bitterness at the end.
Finish: Medium length, white pepper, warming spices, dry, bitterness of oak spices and weak lingering fruit sweetness.
Thoughts: The result of marrying Kilchoman with Madeira is very good for a 4 year old whisky. The Madeira absolutely restrained the young kicking peat of Kilchoman, but still it’s a 4 yo whisky and some youth and harsh peat characteristics show up so the body can’t catch up to the nose just yet. I hope there will be a future and older release!
Last month Kilchoman Distillery auctioned a single bottle from the first cask that was filled in the distillery in December 2005. All the proceeds went toward The Beatson Cancer Charity (a very worthy cause!) and the winner had to shell £7,000 to enjoy the bottle and the first 10 year old Kilchoman whisky.
However, it’s not the first bottling to use whisky from this cask. During Feis Ile 2015, Kilchoman released a special bottle to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the distillery and check this paragraph from their website:
The 10th anniversary release is a vatting of sherry and bourbon casks filled between 2005 and 2012 and includes whisky from Cask Number 01/2005, the first cask ever filled at Kilchoman.
So you can taste whisky from this cask, but mixed with other younger vintages if you can get to the distillery shop (last I heard, there were still bottles available there for £90). Let’s check it:
Kilchoman 10th Anniversary Release (2005-2015) (58.2%, 3000 bottles, £249.99)
Nose: Deep matured peat smoke, still with a very kilchoman-y profile with ashes and chimney smoke, but it’s muted and soft. Honey glazed meat on BBQ, sweet malty cereals, vanilla, sweet fruit leaning toward red fruit (sherry impact) side. Over time getting some dried fruit note and the smoke intensify a bit yet still being kept in check.
Something to start the weekend with – a review of a young and punchy single cask Kilchoman that was bottled for The Whisky Exchange to start whiskying on a high octane note.
So today we have a young Kilchoman from cask 679/2010 which was bottled at 4 year old comparing to the 5 and 6 year old we tend to see. It spent some time in a PX cask to tame down the peat and bring on some sweetness.
Kilchoman 2010 4 Year Old PX Finish (58.3%, 262 bottles ,£89.95)
Nose: There’s no doubt it’s a Kilchoman. That ashy, sharp and crisp peat is so distinct… Sweet dried fruit in the background. dry wood smoke and nutmeg comes hand in hand and it’s working together quiet well. Slowly slowly it’s getting sweeter but still remains very smoky. Continue reading
Like I wrote in the previous review from a couple of minutes ago (Jura Tastival 2014), it’s Feis Ile split day since Kilchoman distillery opened its doors a few years ago. Kilchoman is the youngest operating distillery on Islay (until gartbreck starts operating next year) and already have a track record of young yet good peated whisky. Last year they released a Feis Ile 2014 expression matured for over 5 years in two fresh bourbon barrels and finished in a Fino sherry butt for 3 months. I was wondering if 3 months are enough to impart enough effect on the whisky so let’s taste and check.
Kilchoman Feis Ile 2014 (58.7%, 525 bottles)
Nose: Starting with a very restrained nose with almost no peat and smoke. sour unripe berries and the chalky. milky vanilla dessert. With water: peatier at first and then it becomes sweeter while keeping the chalky/sour notes. Continue reading
When the topic of whisky independent bottlers is raised, we usually think of the large companies, like Gordon & Macphail, Douglas Laing and the rest of this category. Some people also recognize the lesser known bottlers from UK & Europe such as Van Wees, Blackaddr (and there are many more in this category).
But there’s another category that is mostly overlooked – the whisky and wine shops exclusive releases. Those brave shops owners (or staff members) taste different casks and decide to pick one up, pay the distillery a hefty sum for it , bottle it and to sell it as an exclusive bottle at the shop. It’s not an option for the faint-hearted as it carries some risk like all single cask releases (nobody assure you that your customers would follow you taste) and there’s the “small hurdle” of selling all those bottles!
There are many examples of such shops and bottlings (Green Welly 50th anniversary bottling is the latest example) but in the UK, in the last few years, I think there’s one shop and one guy that stands out above the rest (if you exclude The Whisky Exchange & Master of Malt): Abbey Whisky and its proprietor Mike Sharples. I counted six bottles so far: The rare casks series (four releases so far and a 5th one may be coming), exclusive Glendronach and Kilchoman bottlings – A very respectable turnout!
I’ve been able to lay my hands on a sample of the last release: the Kilchoman one. It has been matured for over four and a half years in a fresh bourbon barrel before being transferred to a Pedro Ximénez cask for a further four months maturation.
Kilchoman 5 Year Old PX Sherry finish For Abbey Whisky (58.3%, 270 bottles, £78.95)
Nose: The familiar Kilchoman profile hits the nose: peat, smoke & ashes, but it’s not harsh and crisp like it used to be as it’s tamed down with sweetness, sultanas, sugar barley & maple syrup. Also make appearance are fresh ripe red berries. Continue reading
After a very stressing period at work and with the BTC 2014 competition taking what’s left of my free time, there wasn’t enough time to post in the last few days but It’s time to resume reviewing whiskies and today the last Kilchoman release, Kilchoman Original Cask Strength.
They took a total of 35 ex-bourbon barrels filled in 2009, bottled it late 2014 while keeping it in original cask strength (in case the expression name wasn’t clear enough) and released it to the world.
Now, it’s not that their previous bottlings in diluted strength of 46% are small angelic boys as they can be tough even for peat lovers, so what happens when go full turbo mode with it?
Kilchoman Original Cask Strength 5 Year Old (59.2%, £68.95 / €85)
Time to revisit Kilchoman. Not long ago I reviewed their Travel Retail expression Coull Point which I considered as a good one if you love Kilchoman dearly and/or young peated Islay whisky (see here), but personally I found it a bit disappointing. So let’s shoot for a corrective experience and try another Kilchoman. This time it’s a 5 years old single cask, distilled 24.4.2008, aged in ex-bourbon cask and bottled on 29.4.2013