Kilchoman have adopted, in their 10 year history, a pretty strict policy on selling casks. They essentially serve as their own independent bottler, and have numerous expressions out there for specialty retailers, but very few independently bottled single casks. This is, essentially, the strategy taken by Billy Walker’s BenRiach.
The few independent bottlings that you will find out there will most likely be part of a specific series or one that reaches a very specific crowd. Those include the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, who designated Kilchoman with number 129, and has so far bottled seven casks at strengths ranging from 58.9% to 64.5% at ages ranging from four to six years. With the SMWS being the exception, other bottlers only got casks to bottle in a series, be it Specialty Drinks’ Elements of Islay, Master of Malt’s Single Cask Series and That Boutique-y Whisky Company with its comic book labels and horror film prices, or the Single Cask Nation series from the Jewish Whisky Company. Alongside these 11 independent casks bottled outside of the distillery’s branding, Whiskybase lists 291 distillery bottlings, and a quick browse through the list will indicate most of these as being “for” a bottler, a market or an event.
Founded in 2005, the distillery is a rather small operation, producing less than 200,000 liters per year. In fact, Kilchoman pride themselves on being a farm distillery, located on Rockside Farm and using locally grown and malted barley for about 25% of the production. Somewhat curiously, the locally grown and internally malted barley is far less peated than the malt bought from Port Ellen (only 10-25 ppm, as opposed to the 50 ppm from Port Ellen). Thus, the 100% Islay bottlings are actually far less peated than the regular bottlings coming out of the distillery.
We would, of course, be remiss not to mention the sad passing of John MacLellan in late March. Before coming to Kilchoman, he managed Bunnahabhain, where he worked for 21 years. John came over to manage Kilchoman in 2010, and basically brought the distillery’s core range into being, and his signature adorns each bottle of Kilchoman. May he rest in peace.
Kilchoman 2010 The Whisky Exchange Exclusive PX Finish Cask 579/2010 (58.3%, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Copper with very quick and thin legs.
Nose: Banana split, but with the bananas charred, vanilla, a floral note under ash and some cereal. Water coaxes out a harsher ash and more sweetness on the nose.
Palate: Sweet concentrated ash, the sherry is pretty present here, with a hint of lavender. Water softens the bite while enhancing the peat and spice.
Linger: Ashy and very sweet, with some dryness around the tongue. With a bit of water, the very long classic ashy Kilchoman finish reappears.
Typical Kilchoman ash, with a lovely banana twist. This one is actually rather special! I enjoyed it 🙂