Tag Archive: Kilchoman


Kilchoman: Port Cask: 2018 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 50% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed with a red to rose wine hue. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Oily. Burnt tyres. Potpourri. Rose wine. Toast. Petals. Ash and smoke. Cold cellars. Brown sugar.

Body: Strawberry. Tingling alcohol. Dusty. Charred toast and brown bread. Soot. Water adds peat, cherries, perfume air, soft cherryaid and salt.

Finish: Dusty. Toast. Salt. Red berries. Muted red wine. Malt drinks and malt chocolate. Water adds toffee and caramel. Riesen chocolate chews. Soot. Dried apricot. Cherries.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a lot better than my first encounter with it at a whisky tasting night. It probably helps that this time it isn’t the fourth whisky in the rotation, plus it has had some time to breath. Anyway, back then I was worried that I had grabbed a dull one and had it waiting for me at home. Now? Well let us see.

Neat it is still lacklustre and a bit closed. It is a mix of sooty and perfumed in the body, which was weird as it had a very enticing oily aroma enticing you in, just seeping slowly over the lip of the glass, but the actual sipping of it gives none of that. Without water that closed nature means you get very little of the port influence. It actually felt kind of toast like – quite drab.

Water makes a big different. It is still slightly closed and more sooty than peaty, but now it has subtle red fruit in the body, and that element raises more the more you add extra water into the mix. I find it odd as it is muted in the red fruit and muted in the Islay characteristics – both individual elements feel weak, but together it is more than the sum of its parts. The subtle red fruit behind soot works better than I would have imagined it would. Grounded, ash over muted red wine and cherries. Still not great one, but somehow these elements come together to accentuate each other well.

So, not as good in my opinion as the demand for it would suggest, especially before giving it some time to air where it was very closed. Now, well it is a solid sooty, smokey whisky against good use of port. Well with water at least. I respect it, but can’t say I would recommend it highly against the other Islays or even the other Kilchomans. Interesting as one of the little done port aged Islay, but far from a must have.

Background: Had this for a short while before trying – I had to grab it fast as it is one of 10,000 bottles and they flew off the shelves. Kilchoman has been a lovely new Islay distillery, and I’m generally a fan of Port Cask ageing so it seemed like a must buy. I was a bit nervous though – after buying it I had tried it at an Independent Spirit Uber whisky tasting and found it kind of average- plus on immediately breaking this open the first dram seemed similarly mediocre. Still, as I do with whisky these days I left it a week or so after opening before doing notes – lets see if a bit of time to breath has helped it. Put on some of The Royal They while drinking – their mix of quirky tunes yet solid lyrics delivered often in a more upbeat sound than the actual message would lead you to expect has made me a fan.

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Kilchoman: Comraich: Batch 3 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 year: 55.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold with a mix of fast and slow streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Smoke and honey. Thick stewed fruit and raisins. Barbecue glaze. Water adds beef slices.

Body: Thick and oily. Smoked gammon. Stewed apricot. Big peat and well done steak. Charring. Honey. Water adds cherries, fruitcake and more oily character. Shortbread. Sticky toffee.

Finish: Oily, kippers. Oily smoke. Ash and charcoal touch. Water adds raisins and sultanas. Black-cherry.

Conclusion: This is absurdly easy to drink for an over 50% abv whisky. I was half way through it before I realised I should think about adding water and seeing how that altered things. Now don’t be tricked into thinking that this means this is a light whisky though. This is a thick, oily and heavy thing – it is just that it is delivered absolutely smooth with pretty much no alcohol character at all. If fact it turns out adding water made the alcohol just slightly more evident as there was no way it could make it any less. This is an impressive beast from the get go.

It has bloody big flavours to match that big body as well – smoked thick cut gammon, thick stewed and dark fruit against a heavy sweetness. Everything is thick, oily and smoked – in fact the smoke and the oil mix perfectly to create the feel of the ideal of the concept of peat juice dripping on your tongue.

So, with it being that impressive neat, does water weaken the experience? Hell no! There is now big sweetness but still heavy character – dark fruit comes out to match the meat and smoke, making fruit cake and black-cherry along with more traditional beef notes for the meat. Everything fills your mouth with its oily sheen and peaty air. This is all underlined by an oily by more understated finish – dry ash, smoke and charring all add up to draw a line under each sip’s experience.

So, to conclude, this is amazing neat, amazing with water as it adds to an already exellent experience and the alcohol strength gives a lot of room to experiment.

For Islay fans, if you can find it, this is a must try.

Background: Oh man, this is a rare one – the Comraich series is, best I can tell, a whisky that is released only to select bars around the world. In this case there are only three bars in the UK that have it – thankfully The Hideout of Bath is one of them! So, yeah, bias warning, I was hyped to get to try this. This was my second time drinking it, the first was, as you might expect, also at the Hideout, but had come after an absolutely brilliant Irish whiskey tasting so I realised I may not have got all of the subtlety, so I returned, pen in hand to try it on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Oh the hard life. It is a mix of three ten year old casks, two bourbon and one sherry aged from 2007 to 2017. While drinking I noticed a little dinosaur hiding in the wall, so grabbed a shot of him to add below.

Kilchoman: Sanaig (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Rich deep gold with thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Smokey and peaty. Wet rocks. Salt touch. Big aroma. Brown bread. Kippers. Water adds vanilla and light apples.

Body: Smooth mouthfeel with caramel, fudge and vanilla. Warming. Beefy. Peaty. Stew character. Salt. Water adds apples with cinnamon. Sherried raisins. Nutmeg. Dried apricot. Oily.

Finish: Medicinal. Salt. Brown bread. Paprika spice. Dried raisins. Dry cake sponge. Malt chocolate. Light peat. Dry in general. Water adds cherries, sherry and now juicy raisins. Creamy coffee. Menthol. Caramel.

Conclusion: There is a nice mix to this – I’m going to break it down into its layers and examine each individually as there is a lot going on here.

On first pour you get a big booming aroma that you can’t mistake for anything but Islay, and it is recognisable from metaphorical miles away from the glass. Classic Islay peat, smoke, salt and rocks all delivered thick and oily.

Drinking a sip keeps the thick character, but now with that peat expressed in a beefy style – layered over thick caramel and fudge notes. It is a dry sweetness, very chewy, very big and a great backing and contrast for the big Islay flavours.

The finish finally shows the story of the sherry influence – coming in as dry spice and raisins over the, still showing but now medicinal, Islay character. All of the levels has alcohol warmth, but the texture is luxury level smooth.

So, what can water do with this then? Quite a bit actually – soft green fruit and sweeter spice notes while the sherry influence ramps up nicely giving cherry and sherry notes into dry nutty finish. Well the finish was always quite dry – I forgot to mention that before. Forgive me please there is a lot to get through here. Anyway, compared to the chewy main body the finish is a nicely done dry underlying, drawing a line under the experience.

So, yeah, the fact I’m forgetting stuff while trying to get the notes done is showing how much this has going on – huge peat, big Islay, big sherry, yet with enough room to show the lighter notes. Big, but not so big that it becomes simple from overpowering notes.

It lacks only that “je ne sais quoi” to make it an all time great, but it is as good as you can get without that. Bloody nice.

Background: Another chance to dip into Islay’s youngest distillery – not got much info on this one. It’s a no age statement made with a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. Grabbed in ickle mini form from Independent Spirit so I could give it a try. So lacking in detail on the whisky – I listened to a collection of No Doubt’s single while drinking this. While I didn’t like all of the musical directions they took they were always good – just some of the tracks were not for me. When they were at their best IMHO was when they took on topics akin to the punkier scenes I enjoy so much, but delivered in such a way that it reached a much wider crowd without descending to the saccharine Spice Girls style “Girl Power” delivery. So there you have it.

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2014

Kilchoman: Machir Bay 2014 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very pale greened grain.

Viscosity: No notes taken.

Nose: Dry. Smoke. Salt. Astringent. Rocks. Crusty bread. Salted lemon.

Body: Initially light. Vanilla sweetness. Salt. Moss. Slight raisins. Smoked beef. Sherry cream. Slight alcohol tingle if taken neat. Water makes more toffee and sherry sweet and brings out salted lemons.

Finish: Slight sherry trifle. Dry medicinal notes. Vanilla sweetness. Brown bread. Smoke. More trifle with water and adds salted lemon.

Conclusion: Ok, I may just be tasting salted lemons in everything since drinking Kiln Embers. Keep that in mind whilst reading these notes. Aside from that note let me say this is an interesting wee whisky. Unlike the 2007 expression it needs a touch of water to work, not much, just a drop or two, but it is still just a little fiery neat.

Despite that it feels light, not in a bad way, but in that – while salty and lightly medicinal, it does not have that booming character of the more prominent Islays. This allows more subtle elements to be there – the sherry trifle, salted lemon and vanilla toffee don’t need to be loud to be heard in the mix. Again, this is with just a slight amount of water that really lets it open up.

Initially it seemed a slightly simple, lightly medicinal whisky, but as the sweetness came out it started to portray distinct elements from both the sherry and bourbon ageing and I realised there was more to this than meets the eye. It does not eschew the traditional Islay character, but it more uses it to call the sweetness into contrast.

Not what I expected, a very easy drinking Islay that manages to keep the Islay character. Very nice. You know, I kind of hope there is at least one bad whisky in this set. Not because I want bad whisky, but at this rate everyone is going to be claiming I am a paid shill. Anyway, the whisky calendar is doing well so far.

Background: Ok, (mostly) copy paste time again. ” Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Masters Of Malt Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!” New info! Ok, from my research this is a mix of five and six year old whisky from oloroso sherry and bourbon cask, which is unusual for Kilchoman. And by research I mean that is pretty much copied directly from their website. Sorry. Drunk while listening to even more Crossfaith. Yes I did do this set of notes immediately after the last, why do you ask?

Kilchoman 2007
Kilchoman 2007 Vintage (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 6 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Greened grain. Very light in colour.

Viscosity: Quite fast thick streaks.

Nose: Dry earth. Peat. Astringent.

Body: Beef stew. Golden syrup. Peat. Sweet lime. Dried banana. Smooth. Charred oak. Water softens and brings barley, malt chocolate, some peat and energy still, and a tar like touch.

Finish: Dry. Smoke and warmth. Sweet syrup. Maybe a raspberry syrup like touch at one time? Possible psychosomatic. Peat. Beef slices. Malt chocolate. Salt. water adds a custard sweetness.

Conclusion: The newest Islay has always impressed me in prior encounters, and here is the first time I have managed to put the impressions of being impressed on indents (or impressions if you like) on the paper.

It is a whisky that really shows the Islay character, you can feel a barley like texture running across the tongue, the smoke rising, and a robust peat warmth the builds up inside you. It doesn’t just define itself by the expected character though – there is a mix of sweeter notes from dried banana to several sweet syrup notes, and they give a more subtle set of lower notes that back against the big Islay beef broth of the main character. The subtle elements are what makes it stand out from the pack.

It is still a booming whisky, especially neat, yet for all its youth in years it manages to give you all of the warmth and yet none of the fire. Even at this point it is showing very distinguished characteristics, and that bodes well for the future. It will be interesting to see what happens, as in later years peat tends to drop slightly, and I wonder how the lighter elements will progress.

This is balanced, big, intricate and evolved. The barley character grounds it, and gives a texture you don’t see often with whisky these days, the peat lets it boom and the sweetness lets it mellow. A great whisky already, and a promise of special things ahead in the years to come.

Background: Bottled 2013. With this I get to call full house on Islay bingo. I have now reviewed one expression from each distillery there. Which was not the reason I bought a measure bit it didn’t hurt. I’ve tried a few Kilchoman’s at whisky shows over the years, but have yet to do a review from this, the newest Islay distillery. A quick bit of research shows that the distillery not only does its own floor malting, but also has all parts of the process from growing to bottling, on Islay itself. Yes by research I mean “I looked on wiki”. Yes, I know that doesn’t count. This was drunk at Brewdog Bristol in their new, slightly rolling tumbler glasses.

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