Kilchoman Distillery Bottlings Tasting Notes

Posted: December 28, 2011 in Kilchoman, Scotch Whisky A-G

Kilchoman New Spirit 63.5%

Bourbon – Sherry/ Dist: Dec 2006 Btl: Mar 2007/ Tasted: Mar 2007

Quiet a strongly peated nose with a farmyard full of manure and ‘off the still’ aromas. The cereal has a pleasant sweetness though. On the palate the new make cereal character dominates and it’s not as peaty as the nose would suggest. Sweet-ish, slightly oily but at this moment in time a tad one-dimensional. It’s good spirit however and it will be interesting to see what age and cask influence will do for it.

Kilchoman ‘Spring 2010 Release’ 46%

3 years in Bourbon, 3.5 months in very active Oloroso/ Tasted: May 2010

A soft, yet intensly phenolic nose, lovely peat reek which is slightly medicinal in character with hints of carbolic, charred oak and saline. The sherry influence is restrained and sits in the background adding a lovely sweetness, mingling with a late wood smoke.

Quite sweet on entry and extremely sooty. Peat smoke and dust run rampant along with hints of ‘new make’ cereal, followed by more soot! And……….. more soot! The alcohol hits the mid palate with some intensity and when it passes there is a faint suggestion of the sherry cask. Very long with a distinct scrubby/vegetal (not a sherry vegetalness)/ undergrowth/ bog myrtle character. Fishing with hints of dark fruit and wood smoke.

With water a great deal of the peat reek and sherry cask are stripped away leaving the youthful cereal as the predominant character, however some delightful candied orange puts in an appearance and the soot only really comes through on the finish.

One can see why it has not been bottled at 40% as the elevated alcohol is key to its intensity, and the brief flirtation with the sherry cask rounds it out nicely. It’s very enjoyable and unlike any other of the Islay distilleries, and that’s a compliment.

Kilchoman ‘Winter 2010 Release’ 46%

3 years in Bourbon, peated to 50ppm/ Tasted: May 2011

A phenolic and briny nose with no shortage of wonderfully sweet barley and Ardbeg-esque burnt wood. The peat aromas are quite dry and there is a tantalising citrus thread.

The palate is soft and youthful and pretty much mirrors the nose with some sweet but dry peat first up, followed by the barley. The middle is full on and intensely phenolic and meanders its way to a sooty, slightly tannic finish.

Kilchoman ‘Spring 2011 Release’ 46%

A blend of 3 and 4 year old spirit aged in fresh and refill bourbon/ Tasted: June 2011

A rich, enveloping tropical nose with oodles of controlled oak input. Earthy, deliciously sweet peat, Ardbeg-esque burnt wood and hints of bog myrtle and vegetation leap from the glass. Expansively fruity for such a young spirit and gently coastal.

The palate opens with coal dust and the lovely tropical fruit along with some oak tannins and butterscotch peaking through the young, briny and phenolic spirit. The oak suddenly stops on the middle and it’s pure, fresh, peaty spirit all the way to the end with a slight perfumed note on the finish. Definitely not lean as the fruit and oak verily cling to the mouth! Stunningly good.

Kilchoman 2006 (5 year old) 46%

Bourbon/ Dist: 2006 Btl: 2011/ Tasted: Dec 2011

A soft and full nose which appears to be showing quite a lot of oak – of the toffee’d variety. Still distinctlyIslaywith the expected brine, bog myrtle, iodine and moist peat. Very rounded with a developing pine note.

Soft, full and toffee’d on the palate with a seam of gentle, sweet peat running through. Quite chewy with the sugars increasing towards the middle where upon a pleasant, palate cleansing blast of alcohol and coastal citrus puts paid to all the toffee stuff, leaving the mouth rather resplendently coated with a slightly oily, sooty, coal dust residue. Lovely length with a slight bittering from the oak at the death.

Kilchoman Cask Strength 5 year old 56.2%

A vatting of 35 ex-bourbon casks

Dist: 1999 Btl: 2014/ Tasted: Nov 2014

The nose displays quite a lot of soft oak and adds a fair amount of sweet vanilla, however some sweet-ish barley can be detected along with some dry spice, brine and dry peat. With time a touch of boiled sweets, sweet tar and liquorice emerges.

The palate is again fairly heavily oaked with plenty of milky vanilla but balanced, just by the building brine. Like the nose the peat is sweet-ish as is the tar with some dry spice and peat dust. The finish is citric and alcoholic. In fact the alcohol is pretty much hidden until the finish. Lovely, dusty peat after-taste.

Water brings forward the sweet barley and emphasises the herbal character  as the oak recedes somewhat. The peat has become a mere whisper. The palate is possibly a little lacking in the barley weight and like the nose is less heavy on the oak. Just like on the nose the peat has become quite insubstantial, so in essence I would drink this neat.

 


Kilchoman ‘Inaugural 100% Islay Barley’ 3 year old 50%

Fresh and Refill Bourbon/ Dist: 2008 Btl: June 2011/ Tasted: Feb 2012

Sweet and full aromas of creamy orange sweets, pure caramel along with a touch of peat and brine. It’s youthfulness is clearly on show with a touch of porridge and with time it does become quite herbal – chives, camomile and bog wort(?).

The palate is light and cerealy with a serious degree of pungent, herbal peat along with a touch of caramel. Slightly bracing and relatively straightforward with the peat becoming oilier and drier towards the finish. It definitely has the purity of 2010 bottlings. Very enjoyable.

Kilchoman 100% Islay 3rd Release 50%

Fresh & refill American Oak/ Dist: 2009 Btl: 2013/ Tasted: Sept 2013

This is quite a sweet nose. Slightly confected with sweet vanilla and sweet, violety-peat. Quite gristy with hints of barley, under ripened banana and walnut oil. With time the peat does become a little manurey.

The palate is fresh and briny with a touch of ‘off the still’ cereal, grist, dusty-peat, violets and light spice. Quite piquant on the middle with plenty of sweet violety-peat, cereal and lightly fleshy apricot and apple. Good length with lingering peat, pepper, cereal and brine.

Kilchoman 100% Islay 4th Release 50%

Fresh and refill Bourbon barrels/ Dist: 2009/10 Btl: 2014/ Tasted: June 2014

Thick slabs of dense apricot and apple greet the nose. Gently smoked and phenolic with hints of parma violets and the smoke becoming woodier. It has a lovely, bracing saline freshness with a touch of coastal peat, restrained vanilla oak and a late manurey note.

The palate is full and opens with some sweet-ish barley, apricot, Sauvignon Blanc-esque white fruit and chewy malt. Lovely, intense, mouth-watering coastal middle with some lightly dusty peat. That mouth-watering character continues right through to the finish, where hints of dusty violets, dry peat and salt appear. Very long with the white fruits lingering along with a little gritty tannin.

Kilchoman 100% Islay 4th Release 50%

Fresh and refill Bourbon barrels/ Dist: 2009/10 Btl: 2014/ Re-Tasted: Nov 2015

The nose opens with plenty of herbal peat and distinctly noticeable oak. Hints of boiled sweets, mint, pear drops(?), barley and a lovely combination of tarry peat and sooty peat. The oak becomes more dominant and oily with time.

Full, soft and moderately peated on the palate. Again herbal peat mingles with soot and light medicinal notes. However the oak is becoming quite dominant. Quite a barley’d finish with salt, pepper and a touch of fish oils. The peppery notes really linger. Is this a second release of the 4th edition as it comes across quite differently to the bottling I tasted last year.

Kilchoman 100% Islay 6th Edition 50%

American oak/ Dist: 2010 Btl: 2016/ Tasted: Nov 2016

A lovely nose of briny, fragrant and dusty peat. Hints of Bowmore-esque parma violets follow along with hints of malt, barley and subtle, yet creamy oak. The peat becomes phenolic with time and hints of iodine and mint appear.

The palate opens with the brine laden peat and sweet barley. A little more noticeable oak and hints of lemon candy. Lovely menthol, iodine and phenolic peat middle leads to a really salty finish with lingering peat smoke, dust, grippy oak and violets. Wow! That’s an impressive finale!

 


Kilchoman ‘Machir Bay’ 46%

3, 4 and 5 year old Bourbon matured spirit with the 4 year old finished in Oloroso for 8 weeks.

Tasted: Mar 2012

A pungent, Ardbeggy peated and heavy wood notes kind of nose. Very complex for such a young spirit with a seam of rich Apricot fruit and layers of bog myrtle-peat, salt and sweet, gristy barley.

The palate opens with the sweet, gristy barley followed by light coffee, vanilla and gently oiled peat followed by hints of fish and brine. Very full with the Oloroso finish adding just the right amount of sherry wood to intrigue and add gloss to some beautiful tropical fruit, spice and herbal moments. Lovely length with a faultless bitter/ sweet balanced finish and a long, dry peat after taste. Again compares favourably with Ardbeg in style.

Kilchoman ‘Machir Bay’ (2013 Release) 46%

4 and 5 year old fresh American oak matured spirit with the 4 year old finished in Oloroso for 4 weeks.

Tasted: Aug 2013

Quite a briny nose with fish oils and lemon. It becomes slightly herbal with the sherry adding a touch of boiled sweets. Pleasantly fresh but the vanilla oils are beginning to encroach. This bottling appears to have less of the Ardbeggy heavy peat and wood notes of the previous bottling. In fact I can detect pretty much no peat at all on the nose! However there’s plenty of lemon and a touch of orange.

The palate tastes quite young with a little ‘off the still’ cereal notes and some heavy vanilla oils. Lightly earthy and sooty (finally some peat!!!) with hints of lemon. Pleasantly intense as the oils thin on  the middle. The sherry is barely noticeable, which isn’t a real surprise given the length of time of the ‘finishing’ but it does give an impression of boiled sweets and a little weight. Good salty finish, and although this is a delightful whisky I don’t think it’s as good as last years bottling.

Kilchoman ‘Machir Bay’ (2104 Release) 46%

Vatting of 5 and 6 year old spirit matured in Bourbon barrels and Oloroso Sherry butts

Dist: 2007/8 Btl: 2014/ Tasted: June 2014

More phenolic than the 100% Islay bottling. Oily, tarry and chocolaty with a light Oloroso demeanour. Crisp and dusty with a veritable field load of manure and a touch of parma violet. Quite stringent with a lovely old skool Caol Ila freshness.

The palate is soft and dusty. Still displaying a slight youthful character with light citrus, apricot, white liquorice and parma violets. A little tar and manure comes through on the middle but like the nose it has a lovely building salinity and again an old skool Caol Ila-like character. The sherry notes linger in the background and begin to come through on the finish along with hints of coal tar and dusty, phenolic peat. Long with a touch of dusty parma violets in the finish.

Kilchoman Machir Bay (2016 Release) 46%

A vatting of whisky matured in first-fill bourbon casks for around six years, married and then finished in Oloroso sherry butts

Tasted: June 2016

Unusually for Machir Bay there is virtually no sherry character whatsoever, obviously it was a very brief marriage! That is not a criticism as the spirit is showing plenty of character and wonderfully toffee coated, slightly bublegummy white fruit. Hints of sea air and heathery/ herbal peat emerge along apple, apricot and lemon notes.

Quite full on the palate and like the nose it shows virtually no sherry influence at all. That lets the lightly honeyed banana, apple and lemon shine through along with some dusty, sweet peat, heather, vanilla and butterscotch. Long and briny with an astringent coastal finish, which is balanced by the honeyed fruit and lingering peat.

 


Kilchoman 5 year old ‘Sherry Cask’ 46%

Oloroso/ Tasted: May 2012

A soft, youthful cereal and phenolically briny nose of bog myrtle-peat all set against a lovely, clean and subtle sherried background. Pleasantly complex with some earth, dunnage and smoky fruit.

A soft, peat smoke infused palate. Slightly briny and fishy. The soft wood tannins begin to build, but just like the nose the sherry influence is quite subtle and sits in the background adding weight and body. Like the nose it is quite complex with some fleshy fruit coming through along with a a good degree of crumbly spicy, peat and finishing with a touch of charcoal. Another impressive bottling!

 


Kilchoman Loch Gorm 46%

Matured for 5 years in Oloroso Butts and finished in Oloroso Hogsheads for 2 months

Dist: 2007 Btl: 2013/ Tasted: May 2013

The intense, nutty sherry aromas are evident from the beginning, but it has an old skool Caol Ila-esque freshness with hints of garden fruit, bog myrtle, astringent coastal notes and lightly smoked peat. Unlike other sherry monsters the coastal freshness balances the sherried dried fruit and gives the nose a very elegant and evocative character.

The palate is stunning! Gentle but intense sherried dried fruit notes followed by peat, coal dust, tar and more peat. Incredibly dusty, visceral and intense but balanced by the sherry sweetness. This is the business! Very long with a lovely coastal intensity along with a lightly bitter chocolate/ coffee bean finish. All I can say is the Kilchoman spirit handles sherry marvellously.

Kilchoman Loch Gorm (2014 Release) 46%

Sherry/ Dist: 2009 Btl: 2014/ Tasted: May 2014

A rich and smoky nose of sultana, milk chocolate and lovely coastal peat, which laps at the edges. A little citrus and perfumed white fruit emerges along with a touch of camphor and dark chocolate. Like previous bottlings the sherry influence is pretty delicate.

The palate is rich, robust and fruity – dried grape, sultana and berry fruit. Light smoke and coastal peat mingles with the slightly treacly sherry. Quite perfumed on the middle with a touch of pear and apricot. The flavours darken towards the finish, which is long and sweetly smoked with baked fruit, citrus and ash notes. Lovely sweet/ salt balance with a fresh pure Islay finish. Another superb bottling from Kilchoman!

Kilchoman Loch Gorm (2015 Release) 46%

Sherry/ Dist: 2010 Btl: 2015/ Tasted: Nov 2015

Herbal and slightly medicinal peat to begin with followed by thick slabs of silky, almost Pedro Ximinez-like sherry. Hints of treacle, marmalade orange, stewed prune and tarry peat follow. Very complex with hints of smoked bacon, maple syrup, mocha and tart citrus.

The sooty peat shows first on the palate followed by the silky, treacly sherried dried fruit. Hints of earth, green nuts, tar and creosote follow. Lightly coastal on the middle and finish with plenty of thick, sweet smoke. Very well balanced by the salt and citrus. Long with a lingering sooty and oily peatiness. Another cracking Loch Gorm!

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