I considered doing a series, however it’s that really busy time of year, so it’s probably better off if I just ham-fist all of these together.
Yay Pig Hands!
Anyway, Kilchoman is the baby of Islay, beginning production in June 2005. It’s also the first distillery to be built on the island, 124 years ago.
Understandably, a lot of us have trouble getting our hands on different parts of it. Also, due to the youth, it’s a mixed bag. I’m not completely missing from this either.
Recently a pair of people asked me to rank my Islay Distilleries, and I honestly believed that Kilchoman was near the top, due to my love of the Bourbon Cask. However when I actually did the math, I found out it’s lower down, mostly due to Machir Bay getting a “low-ish” score.
Also it turns out I love Port Ellen and Ardbeg. A lot.
So I thought I’d fix that up. Today we have 4 new Kilchoman reviews, and 1 re-review, to help beef up my Kilchoman scores.
Let’s see how the Childish Old Timer does.
But first, a thanks to /u/Lord-of-the-manor for the samples of Kilchoman 100% Islay and Kilchoman Loch Gorm, thanks to /u/jleese for the Kilchoman Port Cask Matured, thanks to the city of Cardiff for having one redeeming thing about it, which was carrying the Kilchoman Bourbon Cask, and thanks to my friend from the UK who brought me back the Kilchoman – Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) sample.
So up first we have Kilchoman 100% Islay – 3rd Edition. So, the question on everyone’s lips: What am I doing with my life, what’s the meaning to it all, and why do I keep screwing up?
Wait… while that may be what everyone is thinking, it’s not one I’ll be answering today. Well, maybe I will, but not in the preamble.
Why is this dram special? Well, all of the barley for the 100% Islay series is grown, malted, distilled, and bottled at the distillery. Originally this was the plan for all of their Scotch, however that wasn’t viable.
Instead, they release a special edition of what they are doing. So this is the 3rd edition. Let’s see if I’ll be kicking myself for not buying the 1st edition when I had the chance (yet not really the money).
Damn, what AM I doing with my life? Answer: Taking some courses, some trips, enjoying whisky, writing in my down time, and generally having fun and challenging myself.
But that’s neither here nor there, so let’s move onto why you’re reading this.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Colour: Sunflower oil
Nose: Peat, pear, anise, sunflowers, nutmeg, bacon, cinnamon, lemon rind
Starts off quite light, then starts ramping up. There quite a bit of spice in the nose. Man, I miss drinking Islays when I go on other kicks. I really like the subtle lemon that eventually develops.
What is the meaning to it all? Fuck it, have fun, leave the place better than you showed up, and be excellent to one another.
Taste: Lemon candy, canned pears, pepper, anise, cranberry
I can’t really tease out too many flavours, however each one is distinct in it’s own way (Like Canada).
It’s not overly complex, however the different flavours certainly pop and mesh well.
Finish: Mushroom, pine, peat, calamari, grapefruit, raspberry
Earthy? Yup. Very earthy? Yes, very much so. Do I have trouble explaining that meaty taste in the finish? You bet your sweet patoot I do. That’s why I think it’s calamari.
Again, nothing too complex, and some of the fruit is hard to find buried 6 feet under that much dirt.
Conclusion: You screw up because you try. You learn from it, you get the fuck up, and you keep going. Welcome to the human race.
Anyway, this dram has a nice nose, a nice taste, and a nice finish. None of them are overtly complex, yet the flavours are distinct (save for the fruit in the finish), they taste great, and I would probably have this on hand to sip.
Better than the Machir Bay, continuing on the nice flavours presented in it.
Call me /u/TOModera.
We all have our white whales. Yes, I said whales. Because it’s whisky, not a giant marine mammal that has grown freakishly large and has a pigment mutation. Seriously people, you’re going to have lots of whales.
Some of them won’t be whisky.
Anyway, as I was saying, we all have white whales. Like Moby Dick. Yeah, the book.
One of mine, oddly enough, wasn’t even that rare. It was Kilchoman Loch Gorm. Why this dram? Well, because I had attempted to swap for it multiple times.
The first time, the swapper wasn’t able to complete the trade.
The second time, I ran out of bottles and had to cancel.
The third time, they weren’t able to ship to Canada.
The fourth time I made the trade, however it started in the Central US and then went to Miami, and then to Canada.
I think it’s fair to call this one of my White Whales.
So last week, for the first time, I had the chance to sit down and finally try the dram that I had hunted for, bought a ship named Pequod, lived in Nantucket, and shared a bed with a tattooed bloke named Queequeg. None of that helped me review the dram, oddly enough.
Kilchoman Loch Gorm is fully matured in Oloroso Sherry butts for 5 years, and named after a peaty loch near the distillery.
Let’s see if I ended up at sea with nothing to show for it.
Price:$148.95 (CAD) at the LCBO
Colour: Light Brown
Nose: Black cherry, flowers, licorice, sea salt, lemonade, bacon, current, dates
Not as bully and full of peat as Kilchoman’s other drams, this has more of the sherry influence in the start. However the overt peat notes slowly come up, and eventually take over most of the nose, leaving only some dark fruit notes to linger.
Yeah, I gotta harpoon a bottle of this dram for the nose alone.
Taste: Nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, sour cherry, spicy beef, mineral water, smoke
Very, very spicy. Like, proper Xmas spicy, or a really good pumpkin pie spicy, or going down on a woman in Fall spicy, but only if she has Uggs and really likes Starbucks.
There’s also a mineral note, and eventually a smoky note. The age is showing here a tad, as the flavours are rolling around a lot.
Finish: Peat, peach, raspberry, mushroom, apricot, Moroccan spices, fake banana, orange rind, vanilla
Moderate finish, longer than the 100% Islay or the Machir Bay. There’s a lot of fruit, yet the typical earthy Kilchoman finish is evident here.
To be serious, I’m glad they used Oloroso on this dram rather than a more earthy sherry, as the earthier sherry finish would have ruined this finish. Love the apricot and spices, tastes like a nice Tangine.
Conclusion: Overall a nice dram. It hits well above it’s age and Abv, has a nice nose, great taste, and fun, unique finish. I could have gone for a little more complexity, and eventually the sherry on the nose disappears into the fog.
I think you can do a lot worse than this one, and I want a bottle after having this dram.
And maybe sell the boat I bought… what was I thinking?
A feature? From a distillery? What is this, something we can all count on?
Up front, I’m going to tell you my bias: I love Port Finishes. Too much. Take any time of whisky, through it in a port finish, and it will probably get a lot higher mark from me.
I really should be drinking port, it would seem.
So when I say I’m excited to try Kilchoman Port Cask Matured, know that it’s because I’m biased as fuck.
This young special edition release was limited to 6000 bottles. It’s fully matured in ex Ruby Port casks for 3 years. Yeah, that’s right, this was distilled in 2011 and aged for only 3 years.
I don’t know…. I’ve had 33 year old whisky in port. And Mid Winter Nights Dram…. is this going to be a dud?
As an aside, Ruby Port, for those of you interested, is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley, in the North of Portugal. It’s become somewhat of a style of wine, made elsewhere, but like Scotch, Bourbon, Ice Wine, and Champagne, the real Ruby Port needs to come from the DV.
Price: N/A in the LCBO
Colour: Dark Chestnut
Nose: Raspberry, anise, sour red wine, smoke, plums, sea salt, lemon
Tons of red fruit, red wine, and smoke. Not to mention the ever present anise monster that is typical in Kilchoman so far.
Wait, this was 3 years old? Holy shit, this is a pretty well developed, though somewhat sour nose for a 3 year old.
Oh crap, now that I wrote that, I’m on a list somewhere.
Taste: Peppery, red licorice, hot, blackberry, lemon peel, strawberry, plum, sitting at a winery eating strawberries and pepper with a nice Baco Noir.
Right at the end it sets off my memory of sitting down at a winery on Canada Day, enjoying red wine, strawberries, and pepper. And no, it wasn’t the 80s, I’m not that old.
Amazing taste. Also very hot. Probably because of the youth.
Not getting off that list anytime soon.
Finish: Cranberry, peat, ginger, nutmeg, cumin, cassia buds, cayenne pepper
Big, long finish. Just massive finish, smacking you about the face. Strong flavours, more complex than the Loch Gorm, and really hot as well.
Conclusion: Damn Kilchoman Port Cask Matured, you fine. You very fine.
Honestly, amazing for a 3 year dram. It’s soaked up the port flavours, added the blast of peat and heat I love from Kilchoman, and overall been amazing. Granted, I’m biased as fuck.
Speaking of White Whales, here’s one from a few years ago.
I search all over the UK for this one. London was having Logistic issues receiving Islays. Scotland was sold out of it. And then I went to Wales.
Ever been to Cardiff? Well, as Whovians, my wife and I had to go. I mean, it’s where Doctor Who and Torchwood takes place (for the good seasons)!
Well, let me tell you about Cardiff: It’s not the jewel of Wales. It’s more like the Windsor of Wales. Nice enough place, though there’s some rough spots. And we may have been the victims of some casual racism at a pub named after their greatest hero. Not to mention there seemed to be a general poop and scoop disconnect among the populace. That second part, specifically.
None the less, I’ll always remember Cardiff as the place that actually had Kilchoman Single Bourbon Cask 5 year old, the single cask bottle I had tried in Edinburgh, and hunted for the entire trip.
So, I loved it there, but was that just because I was tired from walking up a mountain and happy to be in Scotland? We’ll see. This is a re-review, however there are some mitigating circumstances:
- This isn’t the same bottle. This is my bottle. I reviewed Kilderkin House’s bottle before.
- I’m not on vacation, I’m actually pretty busy at work, and US Thanksgiving (while a nice vacation for Americans) is pure stress for people in the Marketing Research Industry.
- This is the last dram of the bottle. I’ve done my best to avoid oxidization, even changing it to a smaller bottle, however it has oxidized since I first had it.
Let’s see how it stands up.
Price: N/A in Ontario
Cask Number: 244/2008
Bottle Number: 63/252
Cask Type: Bourbon
Distillation Date: 22.5.2008
Bottle Date: 2.4.2013
Colour: Light Yellow
Nose: Peat, vanilla, lemon, gingersnap cookies, smoked pork, tobacco
The spice isn’t as forward as it was in the last bottle. The BBQ notes (smoked pork), the pear has gone a little more acidic, and it’s less sweet than before.
Still, I love this nose.
Taste: Gingerale, lemon, nutmeg, grassy, mushroom, anise, tannic, bacon
No earthworm taste this time, which is odd. I remember the Machir Bay having that taste as well, though the meaty, gummy, and earthy notes aren’t as complete in this bottle.
Less fruit as well. I’m guessing it’s lost some of that due to age.
Finish: Spritey, pine, mushroom, Swedish berries, pepper, lemongrass, peat, dark chocolate, ham
Very similar finish as before. Again, the meat isn’t as forward, though it’s still there. And it’s long, sugary, and wonderful finish.
Conclusion: Before I gave this a 90, and I think some of that was because it was a higher Abv, the bottle was freshly opened, and I was on vacation. And excited. And maybe a tad drunk. And maybe in the middle of a bender in the UK (Next April, fingers crossed!).
Anyway, I still think this is an amazing dram. It has notes that you’d swear could only come from a wine cask, or specifically a sherry cask. The vanilla is amazing, the spice is great, and the juice is that signature young Kilchoman excellence.
And finally we come to something I ordered because… well, who doesn’t want to try a Kilchoman IB?
A little about That Boutique-y Whisky Company. It sounds like such a throw away line, yet they serve a purpose in the Scotch Ecosystem. They take miniscule parcels of forgotten stock or lost casks, all NAS, and then bottle them.
Does this always create something good? No, what are you kidding? It’s basically random vulture grabbing. And at least it’s NAS because it has to be.
Kilchoman Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) is the first Batch, from Kilchoman to this company that they’ve been able to grab up. It’s covered in Science, because Kilchoman grows 30% of the grain used in their drams (save for the 100% Islay, which is all of it). They’ve been figuring out the right types of grain that survive.
Wish OUR distilleries would take that much pride in their work…
There’s 272 bottles of this one, so let’s see if it’s as good as Jimbo Murray said it was.
Price: N/A in Ontario (I know, I’m surprised too)
Colour: Sunflower yellow
Nose: Soft bacon, strawberry, fresh pastry, lemon zest, vanilla, smoke gingerbread
By soft bacon, I mean it’s not a punched up, huge bacon note, more so a light, “eating at a waffle house” bacon note.
Sweet, and somewhat different than regular Kilchoman, it has notes that remind me of the Bourbon Cask. Very nice.
Taste: Brown sugar, vanilla, smoke, pear, oak, anise
Very sweet. Almost like a Rum. Or a Rum Cask Whisky. Or almost a Caramel. Much strong. Wow.
Also this bottling really shows off the anise after it sits for awhile. That note is pretty consistent for Kilchoman, however here it’s up front, banging on the door.
Finish: Peat, chocolate, raspberry, cinnamon, ginger, apple
Big chocolate-y, spicy finish. Not complex enough to make something out of it (Like a Mexican Hot Chocolate or a Spice Cake), however just enough to keep me interested.
Conclusion: This is a pretty nice dram. I’d go so far to say it’s the poor mans Bourbon Cask. Given that the Bourbon cask is sold out, I’d even say this is a good replacement.
Heck, I’d even go so far to say Buy this over the 100% Islay 3rd edition. Both are nice, yet the additional Abv, and (I suspect) time in an Ex-bourbon barrel really makes this one a contender.
Scotch reviews #208-212, Islay reviews #53-57, Whisky network reviews #309-313