Peter Wills, the son of Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills and the distillery’s sales and marketing manager presented a tasting of six Kilchoman expressions at The Wild Rover in Sydney.
Kilchoman is Islay’s youngest distillery, founded in 2005, five years after Bruichladdich was revived by Jim McEwan. The small farm distillery is a barley to bottle operation where barley is grown and malted on site and the whisky is bottled at the distillery.
One hundred hours of fermentation go into producing Kilchoman single malts that are used exclusively in bottling and not sold as blends. All their whisky is non-chill filtered with no colouring added.
Below are our tasting notes:
Kilchoman 100% Islay Fourth Edition is made using 100% Islay barley peated at 20ppm. This expression is rleased once a year with a production of 12,000 bottles a year. The whisky is approximately 4 to 5 years old, aged exclusively in ex Buffalo Trace bourbon casks and bottled at 50% ABV
The colour is pale yellow and the nose is very soft with faint aromas of peat along with vanilla and citrus. The palate starts soft and smooth then leads onto fruity fresh notes followed by a hint of sweetness. The finish is sweet and balanced with the soft peat tapering off at the end. Overall, it is a most pleasant sipping dram at any time of the day. (RRP $160 AUD)
Kilchoman 100% Islay Fifth Edition is a slightly bolder expression then the Fourth Edition. Also peated at 20ppm and bottles at 50% ABV, the whisky is aged in ex bourbon barrels, mostly first fill casks. The nose is more prevalent with smoke but it still retains the characteristic soft and fruity notes. The peat smoke is bolder on the palate and has a longer, sweet and peaty finish. Overall, a more rounded expression of Kilchoman than the Fourth Edition. (RRP $160 AUD)
With Kilchoman Machir Bay, the peat levels are increased to 50ppm and the BV reduced to 46% ABV. The whisky is matured in ex Bourbon casks then finished for 4 weeks in Oloroso sherry casks. The result is a whisky with more tropical fruit and spice notes that are evident on the nose. The peat somewhat is subdued on the palate as the oloroso sherry notes of fruit and spice take over. The finish is soft and tapers off in the mid palate. (RRP $110 AUD)
Moving into vintage single malts, Kilchoman 2007 Vintage is the distillery’s oldest release, aged for six years. The whisky is matured exclusively in ex bourbon casks, with a ratio of 80 to 20 first fill to refill casks. Peated at 50ppm and bottled at 46% ABV, the whisky displays great balance of aromas of peat smoke, vanilla, honey and light fruit which translate to the palate. The finish is long, peated and fruity, again with a well balanced mix of peat and tropical fruit. (RRP $160 AUD)
Kilchoman Original Cask Strength is the pick of the range. Released in 2014 with a cask strength of 59.2% ABV and 50 ppm, the whisky is aged in mostly first fill ex bourbon barrels. The nose is somewhat subdued but the palate explodes with intense peat smoke and fruit flavours leading onto a long and rewarding finish. A most excellent dram if you can get your hands on it. (RRP $145 AUD)
Kilchoman Loch Gorm takes a different direction from the distillery’s style and ages the whisky for five and half years exclusively in oloroso sherry casks, using a mixture of sherry butts and hogs heads. Also peated at 50 ppm, it is bottled at 46% ABV. The colour is dull amber and the nose displays dark fruit and rich sherry notes along with some peat smoke. The palate is mainly dark fruit with caramel, peppery spice and a remarkably soft peat smoke. The finish is sweet and spicy but the peat is subdued. Sherry notes dominate and restrain the peat, and this whisky has competing elements rather than coming together in harmony. (RRP $150 AUD)
Overall, the Kilchoman range leaves a lasting impression and makes for most enjoyable sipping for fans of peated whisky.
The tasting with Peter Wills was held on Monday 24 August 2015 at The Wild Rover.
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