The day started with one of Islay’s established distilleries that started in 1815. So a bookend to it would be ending with one of Islay’s newest distilleries, Kilchoman.
So I’ve never had Kilchoman 100% Islay – 5th Edition and was interested in it. I hadn’t had many of them, only having reviewed the third edition. And not looked up anything on them.
Turns out that 100% is an ongoing limited edition that comes out in editions. No shit, I hear you saying. However, did you know that it’s a vatting of ex-bourbon casks for the fifth edition? Boom, lawyered.
Also, the 100% Islay line is less peated than Machir Bay or Loch Gorm.
Less peat? This is where I hulk out, right?
Not completely. We’re well past the point of thinking bigger peat is better peat. There were some fun releases, but it’s time for nuance to reign supreme.
That said I’ll still be trying the super peated ones too.
Back to the whisky at hand: Kilchoman 100% Islay – 5th Edition. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: $156.95 CAD at the LCBO
Colour: 2.5 GY 9/6
Nose: Vegetal peat, fennel seeds, lemongrass, cigar ash, blueberry
No sherry or wine to hide any of the peat here. It’s right up front. Tons of vegetal, seed, and smoky notes. What I’m saying is give this some time/water, and then it starts to give you more than desiccated ground grass we all love when you burn it.
And not the one with multiple leaves. Nice grassiness, some ash, and some blueberry will surprise you from a dram that was laid down in 2009 and 2010.
Taste: Grassy, cloves, lots of toffee, raisin, strawberry
More grass, and lots of toffee. May have a bit too much toffee for some, however, I’m a sucker for sweet. Water opens up more fruit to balance that out, but frankly, I’m stuck on the toffee.
Wait, that was a bad joke. Let’s move on.
Finish: Tobacco, anise, cloves, cherries, anise, papaya
Finish is a lot of spice. It can take you out quite a bit with all of it. That said, as someone who is tobacco averse, this really does it for me. Probably all the spices.
Water makes for a harsher (anise) spice and some tropical aspects. Really quite nice.
Conclusion: I mean, if this is what happens when you pull back on the peat, I think Kilchoman has a reason to keep making it. It’s cigars and tobacco, lots of spices and seeds, and then a bunch of toffee.
I never felt, beyond the toffee, that any part really bashed you out of it. It’s like a bull in a china shop: Turns out they will avoid crashing into things in it and are pretty dextrous. So there you have it: A brash whisky with balance.
Scotch review #915, Islay review #244, Whisky Network review #1465