KWM Advent 2018 Day 24 – Kilchoman 100% Islay KWM Cask 10 Year

by Evan

Image courtesy of @frombarreltobottle

This bottle may not be an incredible surprise to those of you that have tasted your way through one of our KWM Whisky Advent Calendars in years’ past. We have quite a history of putting a KWM single barrel Kilchoman in the Calendar at this point – in fact, this is the fourth KWM Kilchoman to be featured in as many years! And last year on this very same day of Advent we celebrated with a 50mL bottle of our very first 10-year-old single cask Kilchoman. It was a stunner, ranking for me personally as the best Kilchoman that I had ever tasted. The full-sized bottles are long since sold out but we do have a few minis left of that amazing cask. Does this year’s bottling stand up? We shall have to see…

Kilchoman Distillery was founded in 2005, the same year both Ardbeg and Laphroaig turned 190 years old. It was the first distillery to be built on the fabled island of Islay in more than a century. It is no longer the new kid on the block though – Ardnahoe Distillery started production just last Month, making it the ninth, and currently youngest, operating distillery on Islay.

Kilchoman is further inland than most Islay distilleries, residing on Rockside Farm. It is also the only distillery on the island to malt some of the barley from its very own farm, as Rockside now has the same owner. Most of the malt used by Kilchoman comes from Port Ellen Maltings and is peated to the same spec as Ardbeg’s (about 50ppm). Things are different when Kilchoman uses its own floor maltings and its own barley, however. Using their own maltings they typically create a malt peated to about 20ppm. They don’t have the means to produce all of their own malt; currently, they are able to produce a little less than a third of their malt requirement this way. Bottlings of Kilchoman made entirely of their own malt are typically labelled ’100% Islay’. That brings us to today’s Whisky Advent bottle.

A guy doing a thing with a barrel - Andrew pulling a sample from one of our previous casks at the Kilchoman Distillery

We have a good amount of history with this relatively young Islay distillery. This is now our 7th exclusive KWM single cask of Kilchoman. It is also our most unique, and not because it is 10 years old… we already had one of those! It is our first KWM exclusive cask of Kilchoman’s 100% Islay. Distilled on August 21st, 2008, the whisky was bottled on August 21st, 2018 at exactly 10 years of age. Only 209 total bottles were filled at a cask strength of  56.6% ABV after maturing entirely in Ex-Bourbon.

100% Islay is whisky that Kilchoman produces from its own barley; grown, malted, mashed, fermented, distilled, matured and bottled on site. This is farm to bottle whisky, with 100% of the production taking place at Rockside Farm. Kilchoman refers to it as Islay’s only “Single Farm Single Malt”. The 100% Islay style of malt tends to create a softer and creamier whisky than the big, bold heavily peated spec from Port Ellen, so let’s see what this bottle has in store for us!

Evan’s Tasting Note

Nose: Full of brine and pungent oils, like walking past the pick your own olives bar in the deli of a grocery store.  Floral and full of fresh malt notes. Aloe vera, eucalyptus, lavender, dryer sheets, mandarin orange, maraschino cherries, almond paste, dried and pressed flowers, thyme, plus a touch of licorice.

Palate: Creamy, ashy, sweet and spicy delivery. Salted caramel ice cream, peanut butter icing, grilled scallops, mushroom pizza with a heavy dose of chili flakes sprinkled on, black olives, blackberries, lemon and lime jujubes, a touch of salty licorice and Fisherman’s Friend.

Finish: No. I don’t want to… Wonderful seafood sweetness battles a final explosion of spice and then a warm and creamy ashiness rules over all.

Comment: When we tasted cask samples and decided on this barrel I was happy with the choice, but I did not think it was quite up to par with that previous KWM cask. Then the final bottles arrived and we cracked one open and I revised my thoughts immediately. This is a very different cask then our first 10-year-old, but it is just as amazing a whisky!

Andrew’s Tasting Note

Nose: soft and creamy, delicate smoke, wine gums and white cupcakes with vanilla icing; poached pear and cooked apple, candied lemon and chewy malt; a touch waxy with white chocolate and fresh berries: raspberry and strawberry; so-oh buttery.

Palate: still buttery, silky, honeyed and sweet; loads of white chocolate, vanilla and caramel; the soft earthy peat and faintly medicinal smoke build quickly with some seafood-y tones; the mouthfeel is big and oily, delicately coating the palate; more wine gums, berry fruits and candied lemon but also melons and pineapple.

Finish: long, coating, buttery and malty with soft earthy peat and bright citrus.

Comment: this is confident, elegant and refined; Kilchoman 100% Islay taking full strides and not looking back; a softer take on one of Scotland’s boldest whiskies!

$195 for the 700mL bottle / $32 for the 50mL / mini bottle.

Image courtesy of @frombarreltobottle

Playing catch-up on our 2018 Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar?

You can find the rest of the blog posts here!


 

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