Posts Tagged With: scotch

Triple Tipple: Kilchoman

Since setting this page up as hobbyists some years ago, we’ve set out to record our tasting notes and occasional opinion pieces that sit within the melee of whisky writings. Whenever writing up our tasting notes, we’ve tried to accurately describe what the smells, tastes and experiences have been like when enjoying these whiskies. What this generally involves is writing out a series of notes based on that experience alone, so that, like us, if someone wanted to try a whisky for the first time, they may see what its like, or, if already acquired, how their notes compare to ours. What we’ve sought to try out for a new set of features however is how those whiskies taste individually and then how they compare to similar whiskies within that distillery’s range – introducing: the triple tipple.

For this first run, we are looking at the three regular releases within Kilchoman’s core range, and you can click on each one for the individual notes:

 

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Kilchoman – Triple Tipple

Oh these were nice, but how did they compare:

 

 

Nose

There’s no denying that these whiskies come from Islay. Kilchoman’s peat-dried malt carries the island’s signature fragrance throughout. The Machir Bay is the biggest exponent of this and has a strong peat soil and smoked nose to it, which I’ve grown to associate with the distillery, whereas the Loch Gorm peat (whilst coupled with the fruity flavours) was slightly more astringent. The Sanaig had much less of a pronounced and floral peaty nose, but still had a smoky element to it – much more like a dry, woody smoke. Clearly, the bourbon-heavy maturation of the Machir Bay, made for more of a pure, vanilla, sweetness, whilst the sherry-led maturation of Sanaig and the sherry-only maturation of Loch Gorm made for more of a fruity sweetness on top of their shared malt character. That drying character from the Sanaig however, won it for me, and made for the most characterful nose.

 

Taste

Well, once again, you can’t deny that peat is king here, but, assuming that these whiskies are all of a similar age, you can really appreciate the influence of the barrels. Machir Bay is clearly the most bourbon influenced due to its rich vanilla sweetness and creaminess. It doesn’t lose its original malt flavours amongst the barrels though, and that flavour is also easily detectable in the Sanaig, but whilst the vanilla is not entirely absent, the sherry influence on Sanaig means that there is a real fruity burst of flavours to that initial smoke and malt smack. This is also the case for the Loch Gorm, but any of that underpinning vanilla essence has gone entirely, in place of drying smoke and multiple exotic fruits.

 

Finish

All three drams share a similar vibe and finish, which features a final flourish of those initial smells and tastes, all tapered off to give way to the peat-fire influence of the original grains. Magical stuff. Its interesting to see how the barrel influence has slightly altered that smoky finish though, with the Sanaig having more of a toasty smoke, compared to the late summer bonfire or camp fire smoke of Machir Bay and Loch Gorm.

 

 

Verdict

This has been an exercise in barrel influence on good peated distillate. Whilst I cannot be accurately sure about the age between the whiskies, the fact that the oldest component of these whiskies will be at most 10 years old, makes for a fairly level playing field. Given that Machir Bay was the first core range release by Kilchoman, then that little bit of sherry influence will have added some colour and depth to the whisky, which would make initial sales be confident, rather than seeing something really see-through. What I would be intrigued to try is a solely bourbon-matured Kilchoman distillate and see just how much stronger that vanilla impact would be. That said, there is not a bad whisky amongst these. In fact, they are great. All of them. If I had to put an order to these, I’d still pick the Machir Bay over the other two, and would put Sanaig just in front of Loch Gorm, but that might just be me being nostalgic about the Machir Bay and my first exciting sample from the new kids on the (Islay) block several years ago. Either way, each displays the benefits of barrel influence and the importance of a good source material. If I could have my way, I’d have a bottle of each in the whisky cabinet for further experimentation and delectation.

 

 

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Tasting Notes: Kilchoman – Loch Gorm (2017)

 

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Kilchoman – Loch Gorm

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.

 

 

Nose

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.

 

Taste

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.

 

Finish

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.

 

Verdict

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.

 

M

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Tasting Notes: Kilchoman – Sanaig (2017)

 

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Kilchoman

Until the Hunter Laing development on Islay is fully up and running, the team at Kilchoman are still the new kids on the block in the island’s whisky production game, and they have been producing some fantastic whiskies to stand out amongst the melee of peaty players coming from the much-loved isle`. The Sanaig release is no exception to that principle. Whereas Kilchoman’s signature/flagship release Machir Bay is primarily matured in bourbon casks, the Sanaig expression has been housed in a mixture of bourbon and oloroso casks with an emphasis on that sherry influence. As with many of Kilchoman’s expressions, the dram is named after a landmark or place on Islay, with Sanaig being the name of an inlet to the north of the distillery near Sanaigmore. Sitting within their core range of releases, the Sanaig expression is bottled at 46% ABV and costs a little bit more than its bourbon-based brother.

 

 

Nose

Well, that distinctive smoke is there, but it is nowhere near as full-on as other Kilchoman releases. More a case of being next to the peat fire, rather than having your head right over it. It’s got quite a drying smell to it, if that makes any sense? It also has a good blend of sweet smells to it – think strawberries and raspberry jam. A little briny finish to it too. A lot going on.

 

Taste

There’s an immediate burst of red fruits. That strawberry sweetness from the nose now comes to the fore with raspberries and cranberries. The peat smoke now plays second fiddle, and the sweetness reminds me of a melted marshmallow – presumably heated over a peat fire?!

 

Finish

Islay! You can’t escape where this whisky comes from. That sweet-meets-peat treat continues and leaves a fruity, maple-cured bacon type of finish. Bloody lovely.

 

Verdict

This is one sweet and delicious whisky. I’d ordinarily associate peaty whiskies with the winter months, but this whisky takes some of those colder themes (the peat fire and sherry combo) and adds a series of summer fruits, and creates something that could easily sit in all seasons. The fresh red fruits make this a distinctive and really enjoyable Islay whisky, and could even be a gateway for the peatophobes into the wonderful world of the island’s peaty players. That’s not to say that this doesn’t have a far amount of smoke to it, but its just not the forerunner in the flavour race. From a whisky geek perspective, this also offers a good insight into the impact of oloroso sherry cask influence when comparing it to their Machir Bay whisky (which I’ve been a fan of for some time). Whereas Machir Bay has a bourbon-heavy maturation with some sherry influence, this whisky flips the scales, and is a primarily sherry-led maturation, therefore bringing the more rounded and fruitier influences. Presumably the bourbon influence here in the Sanaig is bringing more of a sugary sweetness to the sherry’s darker fruit profile, hence the final summery red fruits flavours, without it being a sickly sweet sugary mess. Maybe when I’ve polished off my Machir Bay bottle, I would look to get this one in instead…

 

Sample Disclosure: Sample received via Drinks By The Dram as part of the #WhiskyAdvent Tweet Tasting, organised by Steve Rush of @TheWhiskyWire and @TweetTasting

Categories: Kilchoman, Tasting Notes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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