With the Inaugural cask filled in December 2005, Kilchoman’s first decade of operation paints a very bright path for other start up operations in the whisky business. The distillery has set new standards, and new price levels, for young whisky that does not hide its age in any way. In fact, Kilchoman doesn’t do NAS. Just think about it this way – Machir Bay, made from 5-6 year old whisky, costs 30% more than Dalwhinnie 15 and almost 20% more than Clynelish 14, Bunnahabhain 12 or the Glenlivet 15. And yes, we pay it. I won’t even mention the single casks, which are priced well over £80, and nobody blinks at paying those sums for a bottle.
Why do we pay that much more for it? There are a few reasons:
- It’s good whisky. Young can be good. In fact, when you know it’s young you’ll be looking for some of those characteristics, rather than sniffing and declaring with disappointment “it’s young!”, which we have all done with some NAS expressions out there….
- You get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about it. No NAS.
- It’s craft. Real craft whisky.
- It’s local. I know Bruichladdich kind of took the idea of terroir for their PR, but Kilchoman owns that idea just as much.
- It’s independent. Really independent – to the point of not releasing casks to independent bottlers (more on that in my review of a lovely single cask here). We all root for those guys…
So all in all, if we look at Kilchoman’s first decade, concluding that they’re doing something right would be spot on.
This expression is to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the distillery. It’s a distillery exclusive that was released in May 2015 and includes some whisky from cask number 1, so the oldest whisky in it isn’t quite 10 years old. It’s seemingly NAS, but it isn’t, as it’s clearly stated that the youngest whisky in it was distilled in 2012. This is, by SWA regulations, a three year old whisky bottled at cask strength. You probably wouldn’t even buy it if were from another distillery, yet Kilchoman sold 3000 bottles of it at £88.80 each. Do you know why? Because it’s good, and because the consumer was told the truth.
Kilchoman 10th Anniversary Release, 3000 Bottles (58.8% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Gold, sturdy and oily necklace releases tiny droplets very slowly.
Nose: Super fruity – hard green pears, papaya and unripe mango – with the malt coming through under under it. Fresh and sunny (if that even makes sense for an aroma), notes of peat but very subdued for Kilchoman’s normal nose with a hint of signature ash. Water brings out salt and wet grain.
Palate: Here too the fruit hits first, then spice and the peat settles in. A hint of burnt orange peel, with a very light bitter note.
Linger: Honey, peat and ash, with a long lasting combination of all three. A spiciness pervades, replacing the sweetness and ash with an ashy spiciness.
This is a very pretty and layered dram. There is a lot going on, and this is a dram that will hold your interest for quite a while. I only had a sample, but had I had a bottle, I would have surely reached to it for another dram.
So on this note, I raise my glass to Kilchoman on its open day!
Kilchoman started at the right moment. Everything with Peat is hot! Kilchoman works traditional, they malt their own barley for 30 to 40%. The rest comes from Port ellen, also really hot, with excorbitant prices. they make an excellent product, good marketing campaign and the rest goes itself!!
Having visited the distillery with nothing off limits to visitors, it really is as honest and open as a distillery gets, flaws and all.