Kilchoman, 100% Islay with Anthony Wills – November 4, 2016

On Friday, November 4th we were privileged to have the founder of Kilchoman Distillery – Anthony WIlls – ran us through a special tasting of the Kilchoman lineup. The tasting included the four main bottlings produced by Kilchoman as well as two special bottles that are not available in Alberta yet. Anthony capped off the tasting with Kensington Wine Market’s new single cask that was bottled just for our shop.

This was the lineup:

1.) Kilchoman 100% Islay 6th Edition – 50% ABV – $124

The 100% Islay is special in that it is a Kilchoman as Kilchoman can possibly be. Everything is done on site. The barley is farmed, malted with a peat spec of around 20 PPM, milled, mashed, fermented, distilled, barreled, aged and bottled all entirely at Kilchoman’s farm and distillery. Kilchoman’s website has a great animation that depicts this entire process. It can be found here.

100% Islay production is more limited as it is more time and resource intensive. They can only grow so much of their own barley. If you can grab a bottle it makes for an amazing dram. In this 6th Edition the barley malt sings!

I noticed green melon and watermelon rind, cantaloupe, raspberries, smoke and earth, hay, lemons and vanilla on the nose. On the palate I noted ripe cantaloupe, meyer lemon, pineapple, poached pear, lychee and a soft, smokey and elegant finish. If you are an Islay whisky lover you will find this guy to be light on its feet.

2.) Kilchoman Machir Bay - 46% ABV – $80

Averaging 5 years old and aged entirely in ex-bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace, the Machir Bay is typically the easiest to find of all Kilchoman releases. Like most everything that Kilchoman releases other than the 100% Islay bottlings the malt used is sourced from Port Ellen Maltings and peated to the same spec as Ardbeg at 50 PPM.

The Machir Bay of course has bigger peat and smoke then the less peated 100% Islay. I also noticed marshmallows and meringue, pronounced malt notes, pencil lead and pencil shavings, vanilla and lemon/lime citrus as well as some floral notes.

3.) Kilchoman Sanaig – 46% ABV – $92

The newest release in Kilchoman’s regular lineup – the Sanaig is less sherried than the Loch Gorm. It is matured in a combination of Sherry hogsheads and ex-bourbon barrels and then finished in Sherry hogsheads to top things off. Like the Machir Bay it is 5 years of age on average.

It has notes of blackberry, raisins and other dark fruits as well as hints of melon and BBQ spice rub, hickory sticks, peppercorns and cloves.

4.) Kilchoman Loch Gorm – 46% ABV – $118

The latest version of Loch Gorm is now about 6 years old and is aged in Oloroso Sherry butts that are sourced from the same Spanish Bodega that Glenfarclas uses for their barrels.

Notes of dates, figs, prosciutto and cloves with candied sweetness on the palate stuck out to me. As always it is fun to see what Kilchoman does in sherry casks.

5.) Kilchoman Sauternes Cask Matured – 50% ABV – $130 *PRE-ORDER ONLY*

That’s right – Cask MATURED – not cask finished. This means that this malt spent its entire life before bottling in Sauternes casks – in this case from the fabled Chateau Yquem. We will be getting a few of these but not many as the world-wide release is only 6000 bottles.

Andrews notes on this dessert wine cask bottling can be found through the link. I noticed vanilla ice cream, honey, cantaloupe and honeydew along with spice notes possibly coming from the cask. It has a lingering sweet and smokey finish.

6.) Kilchoman Original Cask Strength – Quarter Casks – 56.9% ABV *PRE-ORDER ONLY*- $125

Matured in Quarter Casks which in this case were cut down and reformed regular sized ex-bourbon barrels. This guy has the oak influence you would expect without being over the top. I noticed notes of buttercream, marshmallows, rocky road ice cream and pencil shavings along with hints of mint, citrus and blackberries.

As with the Sauternes Cask Matured this new bottling of Original Cask Strength will not be available until January or so and is going to be quite limited. If you are interested in either it would be a good idea to pre-order soon.

7.) Kilchoman KWM Cask #446 – 57.5% ABV – $160

Kilchoman managed to get 222 cask strength bottles out of the PX sherry cask that this whisky was finished in. This is the 5th cask we have purchased from Kilchoman Distillery and like the others it does not disappoint!

I noticed cocoa and hot chocolate, raisins and grapes, hints of oak and tree bark, ripe lemon, soot, roasted almonds, dark chocolate and fudge, toasted raisin bread, jasmine green tea, light spices and cloves, teriyaki sauce with pineapple, mango chili sauce, and on, and on, and on. If you like heavy peat with sweet sherry influence then this is a single cask not to miss.

Anthony Wills as always was a gracious and very informative host; taking time to give us insight into the where Kilchoman stands. Kilchoman as a distillery is quite young by Scottish standards but does not disappoint when it comes to the range of peated Islay malt it produces.

A big thank you to Anthony Wills for making the trip, Andy Dunn of Gold Medal for helping to arrange everything, and the always great Cured Delicatessen for the food, and last but not least to all of those who attended this sold out tasting!

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