Age: No age statement
As usual, the 2018 edition of Kilchoman Loch Gorm is a vatting of whiskies that were aged exclusively in sherry casks. This makes Loch Gorm a much richer, sweeter proposition than other Kilchomans, and that’s never been more true than for the 2018 version. This year’s release comprises 15.000 bottles, made up of 19 ex-Oloroso sherry butts that were filled in 2007, 2008 and 2011. These are some of the oldest sherry casks ever filled at the distillery, and it shows: Loch Gorm 2018 is a stunner, a real sherry bomb of a Kilchoman. Of course, Kilchoman would not be Kilchoman without a generous helping of peat (50 ppm), so while this Loch Gorm is sweet and rounded, it’s also still a very lively Islay dram. All of this is right up my alley, so I can’t wait to dive straight into the review 🙂
Colour: Harvest gold
Nose: Fragrant, as a hefty dose of sweet, sherried peat smoke bursts from the glass. Underneath are aromas of grilled seafood and juicy red fruit, which slowly give way to scents of cinnamon buns, cloves and raspberry jam. There’s some oaky influences, as well as a distinct nuttiness. Sweet though it may be, this dram never loses its Kilchoman freshness. Bold, peaty and sherried, this is exactly how I like my whiskies!
Palate: Full bodied, with a velvety smooth texture. Then the gloves come off and punches of peat start flying. Some rather feisty wood spice gives way to raisins and charred hazelnuts. Finally, earthy notes of dark chocolate and a tinge of salt lead this dram into calmer (and more complex) waters. This complexity coupled with Kilchoman’s usual intensity makes for a hugely enjoyable dram!
Finish: Mmmm delicious! Loch Gorm shows off its smoky side once more, along with toasted malt and fruity oak. There’s a pleasantly lingering bitterness – vegetative almost – as if you’ve been chewing peat. Excellent stuff!
Verdict: The 2018 version of Loch Gorm is breaking new ground for the distillery. This is a Kilchoman that doesn’t feel like it’s out to blow your socks off. Usually Kilchomans are a real shock to the system, and I love the distillery for it. This Loch Gorm is much more restrained, no doubt due to the more mature Oloroso butts used. Having said that, the interplay between the peat and sherry is beautiful, a raging battle between sweet and smoky in which Kilchoman Loch Gorm is the clear winner. I’ve been a fan of this Kilchoman bottling from the very start, and the 2018 release is taking the experience to new heights. I could drink this all day, very much recommended!