Mar 142021
 

Kilchoman is one of a growing number of distilleries who do not sell casks for independent bottlers, and keep the bottling of all casks within the distillery. Nevertheless, Kilchoman is happy to do private bottlings, so long as they’re bottled by them. For many distilleries, single casks are the way to get the interesting stuff. Happily, with Kilchoman there’s interesting stuff coming out of the distillery all the time, and the private bottlings augment that nicely.

Omef at a Kilchoman Tasting at the Mozner

Omer Ganor, known to one and all as Omef, owns and runs two very well known bars in Israel The Mozner and the Travitz, and has recently started an informative and fun Hebrew podcast called “Cask Strength”.

The Mozner

Omef bottled one of the few Kilchoman casks in Calvados, and sold it (within hours, actually) in Israel.

Kilchoman Cask 217/2013 Calvados Finish, Distilled 14.8.2013 Bottled 28.9.2020 for the Omef, 261 Bottles (55.8% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Gold, sturdy necklace and slow legs.

Nose: Very much identifiable as Kilchoman but softer and with very clear apple notes. There are green apples, more on the sour side, apple peels, honey and hints of brine. There’s also some gentle wood spice and some vanilla custard, albeit smoky.

Palate: Sweet and ashy, with a lot of the apple, alongside pepper, concentrated honey and a hint of citrus peel.

Linger : Think of drinking a cider after smoking a cigar and eating a piece of smoked salami so the the cider mellows out the smoke.

Conclusion

While this isn’t the most complex whisky you’ll ever taste, this is an excellent Kilchoman, and we’re very lucky to have had it selected by Omer, and hence available in Israel. It’s really beautifully rounded with the Calvados taking it a few steps beyond and is an extremely enjoyable bottle.

 

Apr 252018
 

This is Kilchoman’s first 10 year old that was available to buy worldwide, released toward the end of 2016. This is a vatting of a sherry butt and a bourbon barrel, and yielded 920 bottles.

Photo Credit: MyHighlands.de

Kilchoman has just completed their new malt house, holding a malting floor and a kiln, en route to doubling the distillery’s capacity. The distillery will also be building a new mash house and tunroom as well as a new stillhouse. All in all, the capacity would rise to 460,000 liters per year.

 

Kilchoman 10 Year Old Club Release – 5th Edition (57%)

Appearance: Copper, with a pretty sturdy necklace holding the whisky droplets for a long time.

Nose: Green bananas and fresh apples, with vanilla custard. The maritime wet peat is right there, with some chalky ash and balsamic vinegar. The bourbon barrel here was really very dominant. Time in the glass skews it a bit toward sherry sweetness, and water makes it more briny.

Palate: Fruity, almost tropical fruit, and spicy, with the kilchoman peat coming in less as the typical ash and more as a sweet, almost milky sweetness. I would imagine a smoky dulce de leche just like that (just think of what smoky alfajores might be like). Held further in the mouth, I get allspice and green cardamon, together with the crushed black pepper.

Linger: Vanilla and peat, with a serious sweet note on the tongue. The ash and citrus are there, but they’re more pronounced with water, which kind of brings the whole, pretty long, linger alive.

Conclusion

This is a complex vatting of two great casks that work quite well together. It can also take water quite well, and finds that a few drops spruce it up, taking it more to its ex bourbon origins than to the sherry.

Feb 252018
 

Peat and sherry were just made to go together. Much like apple and cinnamon, like caramel and salt, or Abbott and Costello…

I like what Kilchoman is doing and how nicely their spirit matures. In fact, when visiting Kilchoman I tasted the new make and would actually buy a bottle of it, it’s that good. One of the things that enabled the distillery to become so successful in just a few years is the fact that their whisky matures rather quickly, and becomes quite good even at five or six years of age. Naturally, we’re now starting to see casks at 10 years old, and I definitely have high expectations from this expression, especially given how well the guys at TWE do at choosing their exclusive bottlings (which include, by the way, the legendary 40 year old Glen Garioch I reviewed here).

 

 

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Kilchoman 2007, 10 Year Old TWE Exclusive Sherry Cask (58.5%)

Appearance: Copper, thick and coating on the glass with very slow legs.

Nose: Wood fire smoke and sweet sherry with subdued sultana raisins. Lemon and orange peel with some pickle brine, sea foam, and a bonfire on the beach. Some time in the glass brings out some mineral notes.

Palate: The first thing to hit the palate is the Kilchoman ash, followed by a sweet wave from the sherry, and some bitter citrus.

Linger: Pepper and ash in the gullet, and alternating spicy and sweet waves on the tongue. A little drying. This is a long and complex finish, with a mostly spicy finish with some sweetness mixing with the firey ash. There’s a hint of milk chocolate within the ash here.

Conclusion

If you like bitterness in your whisky, you’re going to love this one!

I am, however, concerned with the constantly appreciating prices of these expressions. This bottle is priced at £125, which seems a bit (or not a bit, actually) excessive for this lovely 10 year old sherry cask Kilchoman. As for the whisky itself, however, I only have accolades, as it’s truly lovely.

Official sample provided by TWE.

Jun 042017
 

This is a single cask release, and to the best of my knowledge the first ever in red wine. Now this could have seemed to be a curios single cask showing up out of nowhere, and would have probably remained so, had this label not showed up for approval in the United States:

With 50% ABV being Kilchoman’s strength for the special non cask strength expression, such as the Sauternes Cask Matured and the 100% Islay expressions, this seems to be headed for the “regular” market, and will hopefully become part of the lineup.

Now the future expression of Red Wine Cask Matured and this single cask are not the same, as the K&L wine cask is a Cabernet Sauvignon cask from Provence while the regular expression will be in Portuguese wine casks from the Douro. Nevertheless, if the new expression is anything like this one, we’re in for a treat. Of course, I’ll have more on that wine when that expression becomes available.

I very much like the effect red wine (but not only, as my affinity for Sauternes matured or finished whisky will attest) has on whisky, and am looking forward to tasting both the Portuguese wine matured expression when it comes out.

Photo Credit: Lari Walston

Photo Credit: klwines.com

Kilchoman 2012 Single Red Wine Barrel Cask K&L Exclusive, Cask 470/2012, Distilled 26.7.2012, Bottled 20.1.2017  (60.3% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Bronze, with a very thin neclace that’s one of sturdiest I’ve ever seen. It took forever to start sending legs down the glass.

Nose: There’s a spicy sweetness on the nose, with more of a toasting oak smell than downright peat at first. Brioche baking in the oven, vanilla custard. After some time in the glass Kilchoman’s ashy signature comes through, but it’s tamed by the wine. A bit of time brings out red fruit and a note of brine. Water brings out more vanilla and that sweet fruit.

Palate: Thick and full, with a first attack of sweet berries, then the peat hits and washes over the tongue. You get the tannins together with a strawberry compote cooked over a peat fire.

Linger: Ash and peat, with some wood spice and a residual sweetness. This sweetness increases for a while after you’ve swallowed, leaving your mouth with a spicy and peaty warmth, with waves of sweetness coming back up on your tongue.

Conclusion

WOW, this one is a real gem. I’ll try to save some for when the Red Wine Cask Matured comes out.
If you can, get hold of a bottle 🙂

 

I’d like to thank Yori Costa for making this bottle materialize in Israel a mere 10 days after its release, without even leaving his Kibbutz….

 

 

May 062017
 

So you travel from wherever you are on this planet to Kennacraig, and catch the CalMac ferry to Islay. Then you get to the other side of Lochindaal and at the entrance to Kilchoman, you see the barley you’ll be drinking in about six years growing in a field. That’s exciting.

© Malt and Oak

You get to the distillery, and to your consternation you realize that you’ve traveled 4,130.8 kilometers (2567 miles) to find that there’s no exclusive distillery bottling at the moment. It happens. It’s actually happened to me at two other distilleries, though never at a distillery I didn’t plan to buy a bottle from in the first place 😉

But that’s OK, and I had a really great time at the distillery, I got to taste a couple of expressions I didn’t get to taste, and the most delicious new make I ever tasted. By the way, Anthony, if you’re reading this I’ll tell you a little secret: You could sell the new make unaged and you’d still sell out 🙂

Anyway, being how things go, and given that I was returning to Israel laden with bottles anyway, I put the distillery exclusive bottling out of my mind, and loved every moment of our visit at the distillery. But last Wednesday, I sat down for a few drams with my buddy Dor, who visited Islay about a month after I did, and guess what he whipped out of his bag? You got it, a 100% Islay, sherry finished distillery shop exclusive bottle. Yippie!

© Malt and Oak

 

© Malt and Oak

Kilchoman Distillery Exclusive, 100% Islay Cask Vatting, Casks 717+718+719/2011, Distilled 17.11.2011, Bottled 12.9.2016, Sherry Finish (57.1% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Amber, very slow legs coming off a very sturdy thick necklace.

Nose: Freshly turned earth, hint of brine, gentle peat, red berries, vanilla in the background. Four drops of water bring out violets.

Palate: Here’s the real Kilchoman ash, with a handful of berries, sweet paprika and candied citrus peel.

Linger: Ashy and sweet, with clove and some white pepper. Dry on the whole mouth. Very very long, leaving ash and dryness on the back of the palate.

Conclusion

This is its own Kilchoman. While the peat is lighter on the nose, on the palate it is full blown. Something about the 100% Islay barley just works wonders, and the sherry is a match made in heaven. Is anybody going to Islay soon (of course you all are, it’s May after all, isn’t it)?