Started in 2005, Kilchoman was the first new distillery on Islay in nearly 125 years. More importantly, the distillery crafted a distinctive “Islay character” style that challenged assumptions that quality required age.
Recently in Mumbai, I had the pleasure of chatting with Kilchoman’s founder Anthony Willis in the Spirited Stories tent at The Vault Biennale, where he shared with pride their journey into the world of whisky making.
There will be more on that another time, for now let’s focus the whisky! This particular single cask release featured as the 5th whisky sampled early January 2019 in Dubai.
In keeping with our “unique” theme, this bottle was one of only 42 produced to be sold from the Kilchoman distillery shop. It is approximately 5 years of age and according to Whisky Base, last sold for EUR 161.
Here is what my tasting companions found…
Kilchoman Sherry (8 Nov 2007/22 Feb 2013) Cask 447/2007 59.5%
- Nose: Wet wood, campfire, burnt sugar cane, cinnamon, black pepper
- Palate: The peat from the fresh bottle was quite pronounced, edgy, taking time to settle down and reveal the sherry dimension
- Finish: A sweet peat cinnamon
- Water: Tamed it considerably but for some it still remained a bit brash and unbalanced
I could swear one of the guys called it an “utara” whisky… which in Hindi literally means “descend” or “bring down” but is also slang for what you drink the next morning to take the edge off a bad hangover… like “hair of the dog.”
For a few of my sampling companions, this was simply too powerful and peaty for their palate – which is perfectly fine as half the fun of tasting a range of whiskies is discovering your personal preferences. That said, moving to a fresh pour of a cask strength at nearly 60% after the Longmorn 25 year or Strathclyde 38 year was certainly a shift in approach!
For these gents, perhaps something like the rich fruity Kilchoman Sanaig 46% might have been a more natural progression in our sampling journey. For a strong expression like this, having the right setting, time to ease into its personality, slowing down and settling in, makes all the difference.
Here is what the folks at Kilchoman have to say in their tasting notes:
- Colour: Rich golden
- Nose: Nice, combines peat and sherry, typical Kilchoman cloves and cinnamon
- Palate: Soft peaty aromas with overtones of sherry, slightly dry on the palate. A good example of Kilchoman in sherry wood.
- Finish: Clean, long and rich
If you are curious about other Kilchoman tasting experiences, check out:
- Bourbon Single Cask Trilogy 60.5% (LMDW)
- Coull Point 46%
- Loch Gorm 2016 Sherry Cask 46%
- Machir Bay 46% (Sep 2013), Revisit (Mar 2016) & Revisit (Dec 2018)
- Machir Bay Cask Strength 60%
- Pedro Ximenez Single Cask Trilogy 58.4% (LMdW)
- Sanaig 46%
- Sherry Single Cask 60.6% (LMDW)
The other Dream drams generously shared by our Dubai host included:
- Midleton Very Rare (2011) No 042585 L121731255 40%
- SMWS G10.10 “Busy buzzing bees” 38 years (23 Nov 1977) 49.6%
- Old Pulteney 17 year 46%
- Longmorn 25 year (1988/2014) Cask 14384 46% (Berry’s Bro)
- SMWS 29.229 “Harmonious balance” 19 year (13 May 1998) 55.2%
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