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