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