Thursday 27 March 2014

Tasted #71 through #75: Kilchoman (#101drams)

At the aforementioned Kilchoman masterclass with founder and master distiller Anthony Wills, we were given the opportunity to try 5 Kilchoman releases - some no longer available in Australia, and some not yet available in Australia. Here are my thoughts...

Kilchoman Summer 2010 (46% ABV, 3yrs old, Islay, Scotland, no longer available)
Made using "Ardbeg spec" malt from Port Ellen Maltings, peated to 50ppm.
Colour: Light, pale straw.
Nose: Big peaty hit up front, but light, sweet with some citrus notes. Some medicinal notes, but not overpowering. After a while - ash, lots of ash.
Palate: Tangy citrus, peat continues, with a really sharp citrus zest. Very much like a "young Ardbeg" as described by Anthony.
Finish: Very short (not surprising given the limited time in oak), peat, some ash. Not a lot going on.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 88/100

Kilchoman 100% Islay (50% ABV, 3-4yrs old, Islay, Scotland, $155AUD) #101drams
A vatting of 3-4 year old malts, made from barley grown on-site. Makes up 15-20% of Kilchoman's production, peated to 20ppm. A #101drams whisky.
Colour: Dull honey.
Nose: Very, very youthful - bananas, bubblegum, asparagus. A drop of water gives it some subtle grass notes with more peat smoke.
Palate: Better than the nose. Peat, grass, oatmeal.
Finish: Long, smoky, but not a "one tricky pony", with oaty notes and a final hint of grass.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 89/100

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012 (46% ABV, 3-5yrs old, Islay, Scotland, $120AUD)
The core expression, finished in Olorosso sherry casks. A vatting of 3-4 year old whiskies + some 5 year old whisky.
Colour: Golden honey.
Nose: Breakfast cereal, minimal peat, chalk.
Palate: Spice, smoke, big mouthfeel. Slight berry flavours and hints of peppercorns.
Finish: Medium to long, with an ashy smoke similar to Ardbeg.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 89/100

....but wait, SMWS Australia's cellarmaster Andrew Derbidge notes something isn't right (if there's someone in Australia who knows more about whisk(e)y, I'd like to meet them), and quietly whispers something to Dave from The Oak Barrel. Turns out this bottle was corked! A few picked it as being "not quite what they remembered", and I picked it as being "OK, not brilliant" (having not tried it before), but only Andrew picked up the traces of TCA, or cork taint. Dave was kind enough to open another bottle so we could experience what the whisky should have been..

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012 (46% ABV, 3-5yrs old, Islay, Scotland, $120AUD) - no cork taint
The core expression, finished in Olorosso Sherry casks. A vatting of 3-4 year old whiskies + some 5 year old whisky. Uncorked this time.
Colour: Golden honey.
Nose: Still breakfast cereal, oat cakes, and smoke, but no chalk!
Palate: Smooth and pleasant. Less peppery notes.
Finish: Long, wafts of smoke, with less ashy notes.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100 (much better!)

Kilchoman Loch Gorm (46% ABV, 5yrs old, Islay, Scotland, $160AUD)
Full Sherry maturation, IWSC Gold medal winner (2012).
Colour: The darkest of the lot, deep, rich honey.
Nose: Spice, berries, the youth dominates though - banana notes are evident. As with the Summer 2010, time brings more notes of ash.
Palate: Ashy with lots of spice, cinnamon, pepper. Cherries
Finish: Lighter, medium length, smokey to the end.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100.

Kilchoman Small Batch (58.2% ABV, 5yrs old, Islay, Scotland, price TBC)
Colour: Pale honey.
Nose: Wouldn't have picked this one as 58.2% ABV! Sweet, honey, some spice. Not dissimilar to the notes found in Lochan Ora or a whisky liqueur. A drop of water adds some tropical fruit notes.
Palate: Big smoke, big spice, candied nuts and dried fruits.
Finish: Long, with just the right amount of peat smoke without being overbearing. A good mix of fruit, nuts, spice. Complex for such a young whisky. Slight burn towards the end - but not unpleasant. This is a high ABV whisky after all.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100.

 - Martin.

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