The Loch Gorm expression by Kilchoman is an annual release which is exclusively matured in sherry casks. Since its introduction in 2012, the annual release has garnered a loyal following and has quickly sold out upon its availability. Given that the premise of the release is that this is an annual offering, the distillers are not beholden to ensuring the same flavour profile year on year, but instead focus on the quality of each year’s bottling, albeit with the same premise that the whisky has been solely matured in sherry casks. The series of whiskies gets its name from a large, peated loch just north of the Kilchoman farm. The 2017 release features a blend of Kilchoman’s purely oloroso sherry cask matured whiskies dating back to 2009, and has been bottled at Kilchoman’s preferred 46% ABV.
Named after a peaty loch, you say? One sniff, and you’ll know why. After the punchy, astringent, peaty blast however, there are some juicy, fruity smells that lurk beneath the surface. Think of big fresh oranges with a little bit of a citrusy, lemon peel burst.
If peated marmalade is not already a thing, then someone needs to crack on and use this dram as the master for the flavour profile. It has got the orange flavour down to a tee, complemented by sugary sweetness and a peat fire punchiness. There’s even a little bit of festive spice thrown into the mix (think cloves and Christmas cake). If this could be spread on toast, I wouldn’t consider anything else for breakfast.
That fruity zest fizzles out and an oak spice takes over. The Kilchoman camp fire is still burning here throughout, but that syrupy orange fruit profile is now tinged with a black pepper finish.
This may be sacrilege to the whisky elite, but this tastes like a peated Pimms – again, if this isn’t already a thing, then this needs to be worked on quickly! The peat profile is distinctly Kilchoman in nature, but whereas the bourbon-centric maturation of Machir Bay brings out a lot of vanilla, the key elements here are oranges and syrup. Despite the 7 years maturation, this is not a super sherry bomb, and it may just be that the original Kilchoman malt and peat character are reining that influence in, to create this delicious box-checker in. That term is not being used in a negative way either. The whisky has a collection of peat, spice, smoke, dark fruits, oranges, citrus, and cane sugar elements, making it a treat for all the senses, and offering a good balance of all those many aspects. A lot drop of water inevitably diluted these elements out and made it a softer and sweeter dram. As an experiment it would be great to taste each year’s releases next to one another to see how the longer maturations draw out those sherry influences (the 2018 release, for instance, containing some 10-11 year old olorsoso matured Kilchoman), but at this stage, the 7 and a bit years of maturation have brought out enough to make this one fruity tipple.
Sample disclosure: Sample courtesy of the Dram Team’s monthly subscription. It may only be 25ml of whisky, but man there are a lot of notes and experiences that came out of it.