Age: Vatting of 5 and 6 year old malt
Opened in 2005, Kilchoman was the first distillery to be built on Islay in 124 years. Like so many whisky distilleries in the old days, Kilchoman is built on a farm that produces its own barley. While most distilleries have gone on to become large production sites, Kilchoman is as of yet very small, giving a unique insight into what a whisky distillery might have looked like two centuries ago. Indeed, all processes, from malting, distilling, maturing and bottling, currently take place on the farm, making Kilchoman unique on Islay. This means that the distillery is well worth a visit, and I can certainly recommend their tour!
From the very moment that its first spirit became whisky, Kilchoman has boasted a large fan base. This is impressive, given that many whiskies at 3 years old are quite undrinkable, let alone marketable. Yet Kilchoman’s raw spirit is of an exceptional quality, allowing for its whisky to be bottled at such a tender age. While I love the youthful, intrepid character of their whiskies, I can’t wait to taste what Kilchoman will be like after a few years’ extra maturation. For now all the signs indicate Kilchoman have a very bright future ahead of them!
Colour: Very pale, almost like white wine
Nose: Opens with the pungent smell of a young whisky, untamed by age but not at all unpleasant. A gale of salt spray and seaweed hits you in the face, followed by more tranquil sea shells and waft of peat smoke. Underneath it all the faint impression of paint and rubber tyres. This is clearly not a delicate dram.
Palate: Sharp and tingling. The peat dominates at first, as the whisky takes a while to open up. Eventually, earthy flavours of peat bogs and heather take over, followed by hints of toffee and cooked ham.
Finish: Short and intense, with a peaty aftertaste so thick you can chew it.
Verdict: This is a youthful whisky, brimming with energy. Yet for all its young age, this dram has a huge amount of flavour. There is nothing refined about this drink, but anyone looking for that shouldn’t opt for Kilchoman in the first place. What this dram lacks in complexity, it makes up for in character and enthusiasm. I have been an fan of Kilchoman from the early days, and it is great to see the distillery and its whisky mature over the years. Kilchoman certainly are off to a good start, and I am curious to see what the future holds for this small farm distillery.