We are big fans of Islay’s most recent distillery – Kilchoman. I (Jon) have visited twice during the Feis Ile in 2010 and 2012 and we have both been impressed with the quality and complexity of the Kilchoman whisky we have tasted to date. The whisky has come of age early and has helped challenge perceptions of age equals quality – when the whisky is this good, age is forgotten.
We were partially interested in two bottles from Kilchoman due to the provence behind them – the 100% Islay series. These whiskies use barley grown on Islay, are distilled on Islay and are bottled on Islay – infact the first time it left the Hebrides was on its first and final journey to Birmingham!
This post and the next will look and the 1st and 2nd release of the Kilchoman 100% Islay releases and we are excited to see what they offer; first up the inaugural bottling which has been aged for over 3 years in first fill and refill bourbon barrels.
This whisky has an incredible nose! Initially it is damp and ashy before the sweet smoke rises through and hits the senses. It is quite briny (you can almost taste the salt) before we were reminded of BBQ spare ribs combined with some minty notes. Finally, the freshness of the Islay barley emerges. I had a flashback to sitting on Machir Bay watching the mist clear over the Atlantic as the sun battled for pride of place in the sky, while Mike was reminded of working in barns during his youth with that fresh farm / hay smell – stunning stuff.
The palate began with sweet and light flavours. It is clearly youthful and fresh before heat hits the tongue and actually beats off the peat and smoke (which aren’t as powerful as you’d expect from the nose). The whisky is very refreshing; it is well seasoned and contains bags of vanilla and lots of malted milk biscuits.
The finish is lasting, it is still sweet and smoky and is reasonably raw and untamed.
This is a wonderful whisky – we loved the ideology behind it, but we love the execution even more – raw, smoky, salty and 100% Islay – we would highly recommend you find a bottle