Kilchoman: 90% Islay, 10% magic

Kilchoman 100% Islay

If you are following our tweets you know I was on Islay last week, just for a day, to see what guys at Kilchoman were up to. What a way to visit Islay by the way, woke up in my own bed and was back home for dinner – charter planes may not be the greenest way to travel but they are certainly convenient. Thanks, Kilchoman!

The day was all about the new bottling from the distillery – Kilchoman 100% Islay – first whisky for decades, or as was at some point suggested – more than 100 years, to be made entirely on the island. Kilchoman grew their own barley, malted it on site peating to 25+ ppm, distilled spirit, matured and hand bottled at the distillery. Are you impressed? I certainly was. I must say I regained much of my faith in single malt when I tasted the product and, just for a day, I felt like I went back in time to days when international corporations weren’t shipping spirit away from Islay in shiny 40k litre tankers to mature in Central Belt, in facilities so vast they can be seen from the Moon, and then feed us ‘marketing truth’ about sea air influence and hint ’boutique’ scale of production. To see someone go against the grain in such environment and produce whisky so honestly and simply is inspiring. Kilchoman didn’t use hand-cut crystal, didn’t encrust the case with diamonds, didn’t line it with kitten fur. Instead they added value by taking a step back. That’s my kind of business model.

The 100% Islay Kilchoman is a little over 3 years ago. Bottled at 50% ABV, it’s pale, young, not expensive for a piece of whisky history, collectable. The whisky is presented in the new Kilchoman bottle which will from now on be used across all the expressions, with the exception of whisky going to the US – they need 75cl bottles and Kilchoman still has supply of those.

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Kilchoman Inaugural 100% Islay
50% ABV
£69 directly

Nose: Jumps out at you! Concentrated and developed for a 3yo. Burned lemon peel and sharp green pear notes. Quite chalky, like a blackboard. Ginger beer, rhubarb and cream sweets. Intense tobacco smoke, elevated further by water.

Palate: Juicy, smoky, citrus, bread, marzipan. In this order.

Finish: More fruit emerges here, rhubarb reappears. Shortish.

Overall: It has been said before but can’t be stressed enough – if you like Ardbeg and Caol Ila, you are likely to appreciate Kilchoman. It lives in the same cluster of citrusy, marzipany freshness with heaps of smoke on top. It doesn’t quite have the punch of Ardbeg or the balance and clarity of Caol Ila but that’s not the point. It is great in it’s own way and it sits comfortably between the two giants it is often compared to. This particular expression shows deep smokiness and mineral complexity which I love.

What else can I say? Get a bottle, I did.

Lucas

Update: Yes, there is also an Inaugural Cask Strength (61.3% ABV) limited bottling made up of 4 ex-bourbon casks which you can get for £149 ONLY at the distillery. Sorry for initially mixing strengths up.

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World Whiskies Awards Judge Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards Judge Global Scotch Masters Judge Scottish Whisky Awards Judge