I’m never quite sure why Kilchoman keeps falling off my radar. I suspect it’s primarily as the brand is a bit dull on the whole. If you’re into exciting, innovative, barley-focused Islay whiskies, then Bruichladdich tends to be my distillery of choice. If I want great value peated whiskies, then I tend to drift to Bunnahabhain or Caol Ila.
So yes, I don’t really cover much Kilchoman, which is a shame as the distillery is a lovely little place and the distillery has its heart in the right place. Maybe I find the whole pseudo-Celtic designs a bit off-putting – it’s very dated and dwells on boring romance. Their Facebook images are all very well-taken, but again tell me very little: bottles posed on casks, that kind of thing. But it’s still boring. Going through the motions. Anyway, the rate at which whiskies sell these days, it probably doesn’t need to try so hard to delight people.
But today, we have a very interesting release from Kilchoman. It comes via the major drinks retailer The Whisky Exchange, part of that ever-growing group of companies and brands, which includes Speciality Drinks Ltd (which owns the likes of Port Askaig, Elements of Islay and so on) and industry website Scotchwhisky.com.
I’ve had the pleasure of sampling a good many bottlings from The Whisky Exchange over the past few years and you can always guarantee something really tasty from them. Largely speaking they’ve always been great value too, but this one – and it’s a relatively young whisky – feels a touch on the steep side. The Kilchoman 2007 10 Year Old Single Sherry cask is bottled at 58.5% ABV after 10 years in a single sherry cask – a first-fill oloroso to be precise. A bottle will set you back £125.
Kilchoman 2007 10 Year Old Single Sherry Cask – Review
Colour: tawny, indicating quite an active cask.
On the nose: lovely sweetness to this, but it takes a while takes a while for the rich ex-sherry cask flavours to come through and so one doesn’t immediately know if it’s the peat that’s sweet or the dried fruits. Later conclusions: it’s both. Burnt toffee, a little sweet cherries, heather honey, and raisins. A red-fruit tartness. Hazelnut praline. There’s a slight funky creaminess and breadiness to this, spent matches, a touch of rubber (these slight sulphur elements are nice though). The peat becomes ashy towards the back end.
In the mouth: a lot of spicinesses that mingles with the still somewhat aggressive peat. Cloves, black pepper, coriander and ginger, but it calms down to allow some lovely fruitiness to balance it out. The peat is quite ashy here, earthy, vegetative. This needs time to open up, to allow the peat to chill out, and let those lovely fruits take centre stage. Slightly plummy, with tannins, blackcurrants and cranberries. Heather honey and a touch of toffee fudge. (In a way it’s quite an Octomore-y dram, without that thundering bass note.)
Moody. Tart. One for the cold seasons. This is tasty, challenging and pugnacious. Well done, The Whisky Exchange.
But I must say, it does feel overpriced by about £30-£40 for what it is – a ten year old whisky. I get a sense this is more where the market is going these days, and I still live in the land of yesteryear when you’d have been paying about half the price, leaving me just wondering if we’re going to bring up a whole generation who can’t freely explore the world of whisky and develop their tastes like I used to, and what would that mean for the future of the industry?
Still, Kilchoman nuts will find a lot to like with this one.
That’s pretty good – as we use the whole of the scale here at Malt – but it would have been more with price adjustments. Don’t forget, our whisky scoring system is value-based.