Sep 142019

A new big and bold Kilchoman. But that could be any Kilchoman, really. What sets Loch Gorm apart from the rest of the range is the sheer heft of sweet, sticky sherry that permeates every crack and crevice of the malt, underscoring the malleability of the base distillate. It works beautifully here, speaking to the sky-high quality of both the spirit and the barrel it went into.

I truly believe it’s hard to mess up a spirit this good. You’d have to actively try, in fact. Such is the lightning in a bottle singularity which Anthony Wills and team (with the guidance of the late Jim Swan) have been able to capture at Islay’s landlocked farm distillery. There are occasional missteps in cask choice (the wine casks, guys, the wine casks. <shudder>), but I suppose we should chalk that up to a matter of personal preference, since I know many folks who adore that style. Fear not, wineheads, you’ll have no competition from me for those releases. They’re all yours. But sweet sherry like this? Yes, please.

46% abv (and really no need to be higher. This is the perfect drinking strength). 15,000 bottles. The neck tag says this was a vatting of twenty Oloroso sherry butts from 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Immediately reminds of Bowmore Laimrig. Stylistically, at least, if not the same sort of nuance and ppm equality. Mixed berry fruit leather. A mix of orange, lemon and lime juice. Ammonia. Smoke and charred wood. Burnt lemon. Savoury, barbecue sauce. Grilled shellfish.

Palate: Smoke and loads of it. Big. mouthwatering arrival. Grape jam. Cola syrup. Licorice babies. Apple peelings with a fresh squeeze of orange. A bit of a minty-ness going on. Caramelized ginger. Cherry cordials. Like what I imagine smoldering cedar might taste like. Big sherry, but not top-heavy. Lindt dark chili chocolate.

Finish: Long and exactly as you’d expect: ebbing notes of oak and drying sherry. Leaves a bit of a dry-mouthedness. Last flavours are green apple skins and charred white fish. Beautiful finish.

Thoughts: Very coastal. Rich and decadent. Dirty and oily. Love it. A great variant in the range. But I must confess…I love Machir Bay a little bit more.


 Posted by at 4:18 pm
Jul 262018

Kilchoman Kensington Wine Market 25th Anniversary Cask #255/2007

56.6% abv

Score:  92/100


Not quite the li’l Lolita that Ardnamurchan, Abhain Dhearg or Wolfburn is, Kilchoman is now truly coming into its prime.  Creeping up to the point where it’s just a few years shy of being  able to legally drink itself now, the malt is becoming more and more of a Islay mainstay.  Five more years and we’ll be able to say there is 18 year old Kilchoman in the world.  And that…I am dying to try.

Alright.  In keeping with the spirit of inhumane deregulation that is running rampant in the US right now, let’s just shoot the elephant in the room: I DO work for Kensington Wine Market.  Full disclosure.  Nothing to hide here.  I have biases and I like to think I’m pretty forthright with you guys and gals about ’em.  And if my opinion was the only one you were privy to, I’d expect nothing but skepticism.  I’m okay with that.  I’ve taken my lumps when need be.  However…I am going to ask here and now that others who have tasted this one weigh in in the comments section below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As to this particular expression: a decade old malt from the li’l farm distillery that could.  Ten years.  Know what happens at ten years?  The peat tends to shed some of its volatility and the softer nuances begin to sashay forth.  This is when peat becomes magic in my humble opinion.  Less of a one-trick-pony and more of a fireworks show that speaks to accents and deeper complexity.  Each year added on becomes a tale of additions and subtractions: addition of nuance and subtle notes coaxed from the barrel and subtraction of intensity and one-dimensionality (not to mention those acetone notes that confirm youth).  The true test of this math, though, is whether you reach a zero sum, wherein the pluses and minuses reach equilibrium.

And here…we have it.

You can read the tasting notes below, but what you really need to know is that this is probably the single best Kilchoman I’ve ever tasted.  At the time of writing I have tried 48 different expressions from this wee Islay upstart.

Only 212 bottles, and only at Kensington Wine Market.

One final note:  This is probably the best Kilchoman I’ve tried.  The second best might just be the cask sample for the upcoming KWM exclusive 100% Islay Barley.  More to come on that one.

Nose:  Loads of smoke, as we’d expect.  Incredibly sweet peat.  Lime and licorice.  Saddle soap and warm leather.  Oyster liquor.  Seared scallops with a touch of soy sauce.  A smear of orange marmalade and a nice line of cocoa that runs through the whole.  For how huge and bombastic this is, it’s also incredibly creamy and approachable.  Superb, vibrant nose.

Palate:  Creamy butterscotch or caramel, then…wham!  Smoke and earth.  A touch of Thrills gum and some horehound candy.  A bit of lemon curd.  Nice tangy fruits.  Fresh orange.  Perhaps some stone fruit.  Strong oaky backbone and some oily vanilla.  Slightly leafy and minerally at the back end.

Thoughts:  Sometimes you don’t need a lot of words.  I’ll give you one, though: winner.


 – Image & words:  Curt


 Posted by at 4:17 pm
Jul 262016

Kilchoman 10th Anniversary Release091

58.2% abv

Score:  90/100


Alright.  Celebrating the distillery’s 10th anniversary…at the 11 year mark.  Oops.  Been sitting on this one for a while.  So be it.  The whisky took years to arrive; why should the review be in any great rush?  Timeliness is the least of my concerns, if I’m being honest.  Not like we’re here to sell product or anything.

This Kilchoman 10th Anniversary Release is a rather special vatting of casks from 2005 through 2012.  In other words…a pile of snapshots from three through ten year old.  And yes…this does include spirit from the famous cask #1.  So while it isn’t really an evolutionary sensory experience, it does give an idea as to how the more mature Kilchoman distillate softens the massive spikes and tors of the younger malt we typically see bottled at about five years old or so.  I should note that, seeing as how that Kilchoman cask #1 is just a wee single barrel, and the outturn for this release was 3,000 bottles, there is likely no more than dribbles of that precious ‘old’ malt in this whisky.  Almost certainly most of cask #1 will still be slumbering away for a future release of prestige and…errr…a much more profound sticker shock.

Either way…this non age-stated (but semi-vintaged) release is a hell of a whisky.  Not even remotely subtle, but somehow still soft and cozy.  Sound like nonsense?  Probably.  But trust me…whiskies this big can still be gentle and approachable.  This is just such a one.

Do we like it?  Yes.  A lot.  Hopefully something like this becomes a permanent part of the Kilchoman range, albeit with a declaration of cask make-up (perhaps something akin to Bruichladdich’s recent campaign?).

And finally…just wanted to say that it’s with a heavy heart that I look at these bottles of Kilchoman that bear the signature of Mr. John MacLellan.  He was a gentle soul, a kind man and the footprints he left behind will be followed by many for years to come.  RIP John.  Thanks for the small bits of time we spent together.

Nose:  Deep smoke.  Dry smoke.  Lots and lots of smoke.  Earthy peat.  Dry, dusty notes.  Definitely some sherry influence here.  BBQ sauce.  Lemon and salt water.  Hay.  Freshly milled barley.  A touch of dill pickle.  Ash.  Berries.  Key lime.  Very sweet.

Palate:  Beautifully sweet arrival that gets absolutely steamrolled by peat and smoke.  Man…this is big.  Peat and pepper-powered.  A lot of naked barley.  Oily.  Big underripe green fruit notes.  Lime zest.  Fennel.  Red/purple grape or plum skins.

Thoughts:  If tasted blind, I would guess Ardbeg.


 – Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 3:32 pm
Apr 042016

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2015IMG_1410

46% abv

Score:  86.5/100


Let’s do one in honour and memoriam of a very fine man.  Just days ago John McLellan, Kilchoman’s distillery manager and native Ileach, lost his battle with cancer.  I had spoken with owner Anthony Wills just five or six months back at a local festival here and was told that John was not well, but they were hoping to see him back again as soon as possible.  Those that met John will know what a loss this is to the whisky world.  A kind man with a really big heart and warm smile.  Seeing his signature on this bottle is reminder of the fleeting nature of our time here.  Rest easy, John.  Thanks for all.

With that said, let’s keep it short and sweet in regard to the bottle at hand.  We’ve drunk plenty of Machir Bay in our time.  In fact, even going so far as to review it here a wee while back.  So let’s see how things hang together for the sake of consistency.  Also assuming this is still about a five year old malt, give or take a little on either side.

Coming into this one I’d expect nothing but a scrappy young thing with big billowy smoke and an almost aggressive edge.  That’s perfectly in my wheelhouse though.  And that’s exactly what we get here.  Peated Islay whiskies work well at young ages, as we’ve discussed here before.

My wife came home with this bottle for me a couple days back.  She’s sweet that way.  I’m currently in early planning stages for my next trip over to Islay this September, so perhaps it was the constant mentions of peat mecca that had her feeling generous.  Who knows.  Either way, timing is everything.  Fun to revisit this one.

Nose:  Young, feisty, farmy peat.  A cola-like sweetness.  Smoky and briny.  Citrus, salt and pepper.  But with all these ‘sharp’ notes it’s still somehow soft.  A touch of rubber and new make spirit.  Not too nuanced and complex yet, but it will be in time.

Palate:  A very faint touch of peach.  A lot smoke.  Ash.  Anise.  Burnt apple pie.  Pepper.  Dirt.  Tastes of the new make, but that’s ok here.  The Kilchoman new make is nice indeed.  Easy drinking youth.

Thoughts:  An absolutely beautiful strapping young malt.  And unquestionably Kilchoman.  Great testament to the ways in which young whisky can be brilliant.


 – Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 7:32 am
Feb 062014

Kilchoman Cask # 326 (KWM Exclusive)111

60.1% abv

Score:  88.5/100


Kilchoman brings the heat again. 

To be clear though, before going any further…you gotta be a lover of enormous billows of smoke and peat reek in your glass in order to really appreciate this one.  If that’s your cup o’ tea (or malt) however…do read on.

Kilchoman, Islay’s wee little success story is now in year 9.  Oddly enough though, having said that, we’ve yet to see any official Kilchoman releases nearing that sort of age statement.  Most of the expressions I’ve seen hit the shelves so far are still averaging about 5 years, give or take.  Case in point is this young single cask release bottled exclusively for Calgary’s Kensington Wine Market.  The spirit was born in 2008 and ‘came of age’ in 2013, when it was bottled and sent out into the great wide open (or Calgary at least).

If you’re familiar with the Kilchoman profile, don’t expect anything new here.  If you’re unfamiliar…well…I refer you back to the second sentence in this review.  This is a young and snarling Islay single malt, where the smoky and earthy notes are forefront and subtlety is nothing more than a word in the dictionary between ‘huh?’ and ‘what?’  It’s a ‘nearly naked’ whisky, coming from an ex-bourbon barrel, so there’s no hiding behind the sweetening influence of sherry or any other sort of finish.  In my ‘umble opinion this relative purity suits the clean and impressive distillate from Kilchoman.

Just an observation here:

Much like a magician drawing your eye away with one hand as he palms a card with the other, I think the enormous peat influence here helps to draw the mind away from the fact that this is merely a five year old whisky.  If this were an unpeated malt I can’t imagine we’d all be quite so enamoured.  Just my two cents.  Having said that…at the end of any magic act I’m always happy just to have seen a good show and leave satisfied.  I don’t need to pull back the curtain.

I can’t imagine any fan of Kilchoman being disappointed by this whisky.  They may however, like me, take exception to the $120 price on a five year old whisky.  I love this distillery, but there’s no need for pricing like this.  There are 18 year old bottles of Springbank on the shelf at a similar price point.  Just sayin’.

Limited run of just 252 bottles.  If you want one…grab it while you can.

Nose:  Sharp lemons and buckets o’ briny seawater goodness.  Iodine.  Smoke (and lots of it).  Peat (and again…lots of it).  White pepper.  Clean wet dog.  Black licorice.  Vapo-rub.  Green Jolly Ranchers.  Caramel.

Palate:  Cola.  Lemon.  Peat n’ smoke.  Salt n’ pepper.  Big licorice.  Oily sardine.  Black candies.  Ashy and earthy.  Even some chocolate.  Did I mention there’s a lot of licorice here?

Thoughts:  Another great young Kilchoman.  I’m holding back from going any higher on score, as technically this is rather flawless, but at such youth there’s still so far to go.  Can’t wait to see this distillery’s quarter century malt at some point far down the road.  So much yet to come from Kilchoman.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:33 am
Jan 032014

Kilchoman Machir Bay (2012)001

46% abv

Score:  86/100


Watching this distillery find itself is a cool experience, and one I hope all lovers of Islay malts are taking to heart.  This is literally us watching whisky history unfolding.  Much as I lord back over details of long gone distilleries, or the stories of the early days of existing ones, future generations will one day contemplate the wee might of Kilchoman.  Think about it…this was the first new distillery on Islay in 124 years.  Obviously that tells you there’s something special here.  Moments like this don’t come ’round often.  Next year will be Kilchoman’s 10th birthday already.  Cool stuff.

I think, throughout all of the previous Kilchoman reviews and features here on the site, we’ve shared enough about the distillery’s wonderful beginnings, so let’s move on to more topical subject matter:  the distillery’s relatively new flagship single malt, Machir Bay.  This whisky was so named for a beautiful stretch of beach along the western shore of Islay, not far from the distillery itself.  It is a young whisky, heavily peated, and already recognizable for its own style.  As we’ve discussed before, peat monsters often work best when served up in their early years, before the big clouds of smoke and heavy peat have had a chance to fade away, and this is certainly a malt that exemplifies that approach.  It’s built on a bedrock of malted barley that has been peated to the same specs as the mighty Ardbeg.  You can expect a big dram from in Machir Bay.

Kilchoman has something to be proud of with this expression.  Indeed, one drunken night outside of Duffies whisky bar on Islay, not long after a group of us lads had toured the distillery, we ran into one of the young men whom we’d seen earlier that day working at Kilchoman.  He remarked (in a thick slurring Ileach accent) that if we came back to see him again at the distillery before we left he’d be sure to it that we got some more Machir Bay.  Arms around our necks, he reiterated his generous offer about 13 more times before we moved on.  Love it.  That’s the sign of Islay pride.  And well-earned, at that.

Oh, yeah…and one more thing, please:  It’s pronounced ‘kil-homan’.  The ‘c’ is silent.

Nose:  Ashy.  Very ashy.  Smoky, yes, but quite surprisingly creamy at the same time.  Very rich in oceanic notes, or shoreline or Maritime…whatever seaside descriptor you like (brine, wet rock, salt water, drying seaweed, fishy breezes, etc).  Quite citrus-heavy.  Salt and pepper.  Vanilla.  Did I mention dry ash?  A touch of smoked ham.  Simple and bold.  Succeeds in spite of (or more likely, because of) it’s relative youth.

Palate:  Ash again.  Salt licorice.  Smoke.  Earthy peat.  Lemon drop candies.  Vanilla.  Wet rock.  Big and peppery.  Granny smith apples throughout denouement.  Tasty and long lasting.

Thoughts:  Islay at it’s youthful best.  A great addition to the Kilchoman range that should only get better as it gets older.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 3:42 pm
May 032012

Kilchoman 100% Islay Inaugural

50% abv

Score:  74/100


Ok, what the hell happened here?  I understand the necessity of a unique marketing spin, and I also understand the importance of flying the flag of 100% Islay (if for nothing other than fiercely independent pride and a well-deserved triumphant ‘We are Ileach…and this is ours!’), but honestly…this expression should not have seen a bottle yet.

Perhaps another half dozen or so years would have kicked that snotty new-make swagger to the curb, and allowed a more sensible maturity to take the reins.  Put simply…this young Kilchoman actually tastes YOUNGER than it should.  If tasted blind I would not at all have been surprised to hear this was only a year or so old.

The nose is spirity and grainy, and absolutely redolent of new-make (or ‘white dog’, for those more used to the North American nomenclature).  It is waxy, somewhat plastic and carries the typical artificial cherry stamp of whisky just off the stills.  It is smoky…but not overpoweringly so, especially if one considers that at last reckoning Kilchoman was peating to Ardbeg specs.

The palate is hot and untamed. The barley is sharp enough to cut and the peat is aggressive.  Sweet notes are nowhere to found, and the whisky actually seems salted.

Sadly, though I love this distillery, I don’t even remotely like this whisky.  Without question, the least enjoyable Kilchoman I’ve experienced to date.  (Sigh…it hurts me to say this).


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Pat

 Posted by at 7:57 pm
May 032012

Kilchoman Cask #322 (KWM Exclusive)

60% abv

Score:  88.5/100


Calgary’s Kensington Wine Market is on their second exclusive cask of Kilchoman now.  With absolutely no problems selling out their first release, purchasing a second, especially a sherried version, was a no-brainer for KWM’s whisky guru, Andrew Ferguson.

Sherry and peat.  Sometimes magic.  Other times an abomination the likes of which only a Dr. Moreau could love.  Here, fortunately, we have the former, where the sweet sherry notes bring a balance to the smoke and ash to create a beautiful beast.  I call it a beast only because there is simply no debating the aggressive snarl this one packs.  Perfectly acceptable youthful exuberance.

The nose is great.  Dried fruit, burnt caramel, butter tarts and BBQ sauce.  Mildest hints of new carpet as well.  May seem like an odd mishmash, but it truly is enjoyable…and not a little sassy.  The strength of the nose alone was enough to make me like this one.

The palate is buttery and sweet, but smoky as hell.  Mouthcoating and lingering.  There is a lovely sweet and smoky toasted oak note that hangs about as it fades.  Though not so much on the nose, the palate here reminds me of an uber-young Uigeadail.

Nice cask selection here.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Pat

 Posted by at 7:48 pm
May 032012

Kilchoman Autumn 2009

46% abv

 Score:  86.5/100


A much fruitier and creamier offering from Kilchoman in this, their second release.  Here we have most of what made the Inaugural release such a success (and started the collectors a-scramblin’), but slightly held in check with a greater emphasis on pillowy crème caramel, vanilla and soft pear.  Smoke is big and billowy, as to be expected, but there is a refreshing note of spearmint threaded throughout.

The palate is surprising in its perceived maturity.  I know this is bottled at a mere three years, but I’d give credit for a couple more if I didn’t know better.  Again…in slight contrast (doubt it has to do with any more maturation, as this is only a few months down the road from the previous iteration…more likely simple cask variance) to the Inaugural we find a less rambunctious offering here.  A little heavier in soft white fruits and oaky vanilla.  Hints of fish oil as well.  The finish carries heat (c’mon…we talk about maturity here, but let’s face it…this is only 3) and smoke and tart fruit skin through its inevitable finale.  Vaguest hints of green apple jolly ranchers as it fades.

This second outing pales just slightly when held against their showstopper of a debut, but nevertheless is a truly winning whisky.  I’ve said it many times…when this gets a bit older…look out.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Pat

 Posted by at 7:37 pm
Apr 162012



The Calgary winter has been pushing hard since early November 2011, so on February 8, 2012 we, a motley collection of seven like-minded whisky drudges, took off our snow shoes and mad trapper hats and sat down together to push back. Clint, Curt, Jay R, Jay W, Maltmonster, Pat and Calgary’s Napoleon, a self-acclaimed whisky expert, turned our interest and thirst toward eight different bottlings of Kilchoman. In doing so managed to ignore winter (at least until the next morning). With the help of the collective, Curt and I decided to post our tasting notes together in a joint effort and Pat did the honors of the photos.

For the benefit of the great unwashed, the Kilchoman Rockside Farm distillery was born in 2005 on the rocky, peaty Island of Islay and is the first new distillery built on Islay in 124 years. Kilchoman currently malts about 30% of their own barley which is grown on their own farm. The total yearly production is around 100,000 liters of the good stuff. The main source of Bourbon barrels is from Buffalo Trace Distillery, Kentucky and Oloroso Sherry butts from Miguel Martin of Jerez, Spain. “Kil” in Gaelic means church and Kil-choman takes its name from a small Kil-t wearing settlement less than a kil-ometre away.

In an age where bigger is supposed to better (Roseisle) and contracting out specialized tasks like malting, cooperage, bottling and farming seems to make better business sense, it’s nice to see distilleries like Kilchoman with a real desire to reverse this trend and take on a grass roots approach to full control whisky making.

We couldn’t help to think with all the governmental red tape, the huge financial burden, the startup headaches and the never ending learning curve why then would any sane person want to build a whisky distillery from the ground up? Not that we don’t love you for it. Well whilst we were drinking and enjoying our whisky we came up with a list with 16 possible reasons:


1) A David and Goliath Condition – The desire to bring the corporate giant, Diageo, to its knees.

2) Final item on the fanatical Scotch hobbyist list:  own a distillery.

3) Suffer from Jim Murray Syndrome – The need to receive praise from somebody you don’t respect (similar to Stockholm syndrome).

4) The voices compelled me…but we’re fine now.

5) Communication problem – Not fully understanding what your wife is saying.  “I don’t care, you can do whatever the f#@k you want” really wasn’t permission to start a new distillery.

6) Malt-O-Maniac – Overcome with irresistible need to work with barley.

7) Malt-O-Freak – Obsessed with stopping barley from germinating.

8) Some extra strand in the English DNA that reads “Must rule over something Scottish”.

9) If God is watching us, the least we can do is be entertaining.

10) An ideal founded after a night of heavy scotch drinking and bragging to friends “If I owned a distillery I would do it sooooo much better”.

11) Nesting instinct – Just wanting to secure a large supply of whisky at a reasonable price for you and your unreasonable friends.

12) Trying to get over your Coulrophobia – By surrounding yourself with government clowns.

13) A long family business history with the need to be first, best or really, really different.

14) Tired of Listening to Andrew Symington of Edradour claims of being the only neat little distillery in Scotchland.

15) Failed badly with the vows of Chastity, Obedience and Silence …which only left Poverty.

16) Woke up in a field on the Rockside Farm the morning after a night of heavy drinking at the Islay Festival with a sheep in one arm and real bad case of Whisnesia (only remembering you really liked whisky & sheep but couldn’t remember where home was).




#1 Inaugural 2005 – 2009 1st Release 46 % ABV 3 years 1st fill bourbon and finished 5 months in oloroso butts

#2 Autumn 2009 2nd Release 46 % ABV 3 years 1st fill bourbon and one cask of 3 years refill bourbon finished 3 months in oloroso butts

#3 Spring 2010 3rd Release 46 % ABV 3 years 1st fill bourbon and finished 3.5 months in oloroso butts

#4 100 % Islay 2011 Inaugural Limited Release 50 % ABV1st fill bourbon and refill bourbon with 100% Islay barley

#5 Kensington Wine Market – Calgary , Alberta Single Cask 1st fill Bourbon # 119 May 30 , 2007 – July 21 , 2010 61.9 % ABV

#6 Binny’s Beverage Depot – Chicago, Illinois Single Cask 1st fill Bourbon # 182 July 4, 2007 – August 26, 2010 61.1 % ABV

#7 The Whisky Shop – San Francisco, California Single Cask 1st fill Bourbon # 204 July 18, 2007 – August 26, 2010 60.9 % ABV

#8 Kensington Wine Market – Calgary, Alberta Single Cask 1st fill Sherry # 322 November 15, 2006 – September 13, 2011 60.0 % ABV



#1 Inaugural 2005 – 2009 1st Release

46 % ABV 3 years 1st fill bourbon and finished 5 months in oloroso butts



Nose: Licorice. Iodine. Citrus zest. Salt. Raw smoke and earthy peat. Capers. Bonfire and maple bacon.

Palate: Smoky and salty. Sharp and young, but balanced with some sweetness. Cracked pepper.

Finish: Granny Smith apple. Warm and long lasting.

Thoughts: Enjoyable as hell. Better than almost all of the young whiskies (under 5 y.o., that is) I’ve tried.



NOSE: Smoky medicinal hit. Lemons & pears. Clamato juice and gin botanicals.

TASTE: Earthy.  Liquid smoky.  Licorice, tart lemon and green apples.

FINISH: Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT: What a fantastic whisky to start with. Really has me in awe of just how good a three year old whisky can be.



#2 Autumn 2009 2nd Release

46 % ABV 3 years 1st fill bourbon and one cask of 3 years refill bourbon finished 3 months in oloroso butts



Nose: Creme caramel. Soft pear. Vanilla. Smoke. Spearmint.

Palate: Smoke and mature beyond its years. Soft white fruit. Woody and fishy.

Finish: Firey, but somewhat short-lived, like a fireworks explosion.

Thoughts: Slightly softer and more rounded corners (creamier) than the Inaugural.



NOSE: Little more depth and softer smoke than the Inaugural. Vanilla and oranges. Aged cheddar cheese.

TASTE: Whip cream.  Mild smoke.  Sweet & sour candy lemon drops.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Little bitter and warm.

ASSESSMENT: You would think this would be very similar to the Inaugural given the age, but yet they are very different. Maybe the stock varies because of the learning curve in starting up a distillery?



#3 Spring 2010 3rd Release

46 % ABV 3 years 1st fill bourbon and finished 3.5 months in oloroso butts



Nose: Smoked salmon. Lemon juice. Herbal and grassy. Mussels in white wine. Kerosene.

Palate: Fishy. Hoisin. Syrupy pear. Hot.

Finish: Still quite fishy and feisty. Wriggling on the hook.

Thoughts: Good drink and quirky as hell. Just different enough to be charming.



NOSE: Low tide (yes I used to live on the coast) and things that come with that.  Winey.  Lemons.

TASTE: Smoked Salmon.  Sweet peat.  Pears and toffee.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Warm and slightly oily.

ASSESSMENT: This is almost between the Inaugural and the Autumn 2009 release.  This is my 2nd favorite of the first three releases and Inaugural is my favorite of the three.



#4 100 % Islay 2011 Inaugural Limited Release

50 % ABV 1st fill bourbon and refill bourbon with 100% Islay barley



Nose: Spirity and grainy. Seems VERY young. Oaky. Notes of new make. Waxy and somewhat plastic. Smoky, but not overpoweringly so.

Palate: Hot and virgin (and not in the good way). NOT sweet. Over-salted. Peat is aggressive.

Finish: Yep.

Thoughts: The least enjoyable Kilchoman I’ve experienced to date. Though I like the others, this…I wouldn’t buy.



NOSE: Iodine and malty. New make feinty. Green apples and floral.

TASTE: New make.  Vanilla.  Lightly peated.  Jammy.

FINISH: Medium.  Briny and very hot.

ASSESSMENT: Had huge expectations for this, really enjoyed the first three malts but this was a bit of a letdown. It either needs some sherry finishing or a little more time in the cask.



#5 Kensington Wine Market – Calgary, Alberta Single Cask 1st fill Bourbon #119

May 30 , 2007 – July 21 , 2010 61.9 % ABV



Nose: Creamy and rich. Spicy. Herbal. Sultana. Eucalyptus (some suggested Vicks Vapo-rub?). Bubble-gummy.

Palate: Firey and smoke-heavy. Anise. Zest and brine.

Finish: Pleasant slow fade. Hefty smoke left behind with fruit skin tartness.

Thoughts: Good cask selection. One of the faves of the eve.



NOSE: Lemons and ripe cherries. Mild to strong peat smoke. Eucalyptus. West coast oysters.

TASTE: Mild peat smoke.  Vanilla and red apples. Pepper.

FINISH: Medium to long. Like the smooth fading finish.

ASSESSMENT: Battle of the Bourbon 2005 3 year old single casks starts here and me likes!



#6 Binny’s Beverage Depot – Chicago, Illinois Single Cask 1st fill Bourbon #182

July 4, 2007 – August 26, 2010 61.1 % ABV



Nose: Dill. Mellower than the KWM cask and in contrast seems almost flat. Hints of grainy new-make. Smoke and youthful peat nip.

Palate: Wax and cherry. Underdeveloped. Old chocolate. Meaty and malty.

Finish: Nothing to dislike, but nothing to mourn when it fades either.

Thoughts: Would probably be a LOT better with another half dozen years in wood, but I question the cask here. Seems kinda dud-ish.



NOSE: Assertive smoke.  Aged cheese.  Apples and pears.

TASTE: Mint and lemons. Little pepper and licorice.

FINISH: Medium to long with a sharp tang to it.

ASSESSMENT: Poor showing to the KWM single cask.



#7 The Whisky Shop – San Francisco, California Single Cask 1st fill Bourbon #204

July 18, 2007 – August 26, 2010 60.9 % ABV



Nose: Dusty. Wood shavings. Rich wet smoke. Fishy. Vanilla. Lemon.

Palate: Hot and spicy Asian sauce of some sort.

Finish: A hickory like smoke and apple. Long and warming.

Thoughts: Really liked this one. Certainly one of the best of the night.



NOSE: Charcoal and fire starter. Major citrus and bubble gum.

TASTE: Mild peat smoke.  Honey.  Cheddar cheese. Tobacco.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Earthy dry finish.

ASSESSMENT: My 2nd favorite single cask and very close to the KWM for number one. It’s amazing to me that all three of these single casks could be so different.



#8 Kensington Wine Market – Calgary, Alberta Single Cask 1st fill Sherry #322

November 15, 2006 – September 13, 2011 60.0 % ABV



Nose: Dry fruit. Burnt caramel. BBQ sauce. New carpet. Barley still cuts with its youth. Butter tarts.

Palate: Buttery and sweet, but smoky as hell.

Finish: Lovely. Sweet and smoky toasted oak.

Thoughts: Another young gem. Calgary’s KWM had two of the better Kilchomans on offer this eve.



NOSE: Mellow briny smoke. Cherries and oranges. Leather and earthy.

TASTE: Creamy chewy jam. Black licorice and raisins.

FINISH: Long and gets warmer at the end.

ASSESSMENT: The only ‘all sherry’ cask we had in the lineup, and it is brilliant.  My second overall favorite of the night next to the Inaugural 2005, release which was #1 pick as overall favorite of the night .



I remember being part of the B-team to help chose this cask for KWM back on August 16, 2011. We were given only two 2006 Sherry samples to chose from cask #322 & cask #323. Sample #322 was stunning and sample #323 was very less than stunning (varnish) and ended up at being bottled for Whisky Live Paris and receiving a rating of 78 from Serge on Whisky Fun. Again it’s odd that two young casks could be so different.


Much thanks to Anthony Wills for coming to Calgary in October 2011 and leading us in a wonderful tasting including the new 5 year old first fill bourbon, which was fantastic. Sorry we didn’t get to talk much in Victoria but look forward to seeing you here again next year .


– Maltmonster

– Photos:  Pat



“Maltmonster, I’m sorry for showing up late as a result of locking my keys in the vehicle at the Olympic Park Shell gas station. Life is tough; It’s even tougher if you’re stupid.

As I was late I didn’t get a chance to rate & taste all the whiskies and as I trust your opinion more than my own, please rate these whiskies for me.

Out of anybody in the whisky industry, I hold the you in the highest esteem. Maltmonster, you are a true guiding light, a credit to the noble Irish and without question have the best taste in whisky in the world.


Calgary’s Napoleon

Self-acclaimed whisky expert, Quaker, sheep shagger, whisky monger, whisky writer and proud bearer of the MHLV yellow tie”

 Posted by at 9:28 pm