Firstly, a big heartfelt thank you to all of our Patreon supporters for making this review a reality. We had some funds left over after our April payment landed. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to review something new and from a distillery that we haven’t covered enough until now.
Patreon covers our costs and keeps MALT advertisement free. I’m sure you’ve visited sites littered with pop-ups and targeted adverts at the end of each paragraph. What should be easy to navigate and read, becomes a chore. It’s thanks to such support that we can keep things clean visually and honest here. And it also means industry onlookers – we know you’re watching and reading – have no leverage whatsoever. Even if they don’t want to play ball with samples, we’ll eventually do our own thing and provide our usual candid opinion.
Moving on, we hope to be able to make this a monthly feature and whilst I’ll collect the bottle, I’m eager to split the contents with our team. This time around, I sent Mark 20cl and handed over 10cl Noortje in person to review below. For each subsequent purchase, I’ll look to include Justine, Phil and so on. The remnants of the bottle will be included in the various Patreon packs that are shipped out bi-annually. It’s a great deal of work and honestly, I’d rather folk just plump for the £3 or £6 options, which is very competitively priced when you consider what a whisky magazine gives you monthly i.e. a load of adverts and a pro-industry style. This means substandard whiskies never receive their due criticism, as you don’t want to upset the advertising revenue, or next invitation. However, for Patreon folk, it is great to pick out packs and showcase new whiskies we’ve featured here previously. If anyone has any spare Drinks By the Dram boxes please let me know!
My own encounters with Kilchoman have been mixed. I do feel that many are overly forgiving noting the more hands-on ethic of the distillery and modest scale. I was burned a few times in the early days by overpriced and flawed releases and really haven’t felt the need to return very often. However, we have a commitment to cover what we can and this was an opportunity. Things apparently have improved and I do recall the Kilchoman Sanaig showcasing some promise and Mark did grudgingly enjoy a TWE exclusive bottling from 2007. All being said, a catch up is long overdue so let us begin.
This 2019 Loch Gorm, is made up from 20 Oloroso sherry butts, combining to give an outturn of 15,000 bottles at 46% strength. It will set you back £69.95 from the Whisky Exchange, or £69.80 from Master of Malt.
Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2019 – Jason’s review
Colour: Irn Bru.
On the nose: A touch salty, an earth astringent peat with some sweetness beneath with honey and syrup. A floral twist, stewed tea leaves, rum fudge and aniseed. There is a metallic aspect that reminds me of a copper saucepan once removed from the hob. Cracked black pepper, wet Tweed and chocolate follow. A splash of water reveals a trace of smoke but little else.
In the mouth: A stomped out peat fire with those embers still glowing. Brine with salt, chocolate digestives, beef jerky with red liquorice. Treacle, black pepper, smoked hay and more peat on the finish. In my humble opinion, this has been cut too low. It struggles at 46% to retain a power and identity. There’s a murky wallowing in a bog midway when it should be bursting into life. Charcoal is noticeable prior to the finish, but avoid adding water as all this showcases is the earth and a rusty quality.
Firstly, I’ve chopped a point off for the price. I wanted more for the asking price and it was sadly lacking.
I do think this is a slightly flawed release. Whether that’s the spirit, the barley or the cask I’ll leave open to debate. However, the mashing of 20 sherry casks has created a confused and flawed whisky. Quite often less is more and this is very much the case with this Kilchoman.
Some readers have suggested I don’t like peat and that’s ridiculous. I just like good peat and nowadays we’re seeing peat and little else. Scratch beneath the surface and what is there? What remains? I expected more than this and the peat cannot hide the flaws within. Nor is there any escape from that price; ultimately I’m disappointed.
Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2019 – Mark’s review
Colour: burnished copper.
On the nose: quite a bitter, ashy, dry peat – not really that pleasant. It fades to allow some red berry notes rise up, with dried fruits, raisins and sultanas. Burnt toast, sourdough. Vegetative, hemp. Something slightly sulphury and brackish too, that’s just about masked by the black tea notes. Redcurrants, still very sharp; cranberries perhaps, with nutmeg.
In the mouth: again, dry, slightly acidic notes with the peat. Earthy, mossy. Slightly soapy? Tobacco with the redcurrant notes and sour grapefruit (perhaps those fizzy sweets). Raisins ahoy. Meaty green olives, some tapenade perhaps. Nutmeg and black pepper, on the warming but slightly mouth-puckering (in a bad way) finish. Some questionable spirit, as always.
Despite the craft image (remember small doesn’t equal good), I’ve found Kilchoman to be among the weakest of Islay’s distilleries; there’s some flaw in some of its spirit that the peak masks (peat covers a world of sins) but it’s still just there, somewhere in the distance. This whisky reinforces my unimpressed view of the distillery.
Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2019 – Noortje’s review
On the nose: It starts with peat with dried fruits: Raisins, dried figs. A hint of dark forest fruits too, like blueberries. There is leather. Smoked bacon. A little salty. Followed by a hint of lemon. Then a menthol note. Caramel.
In the mouth: A bit ashy at first sip. A layer of smoke and it is salty here too. But then it gets sweeter. Caramel fudge, honey and some milk chocolate as well. Also forest fruits, like blackberries and blueberries. Somewhat drying in the finish; oak, but also a hint of lemon here.
Although not my style, it is a nice whisky with a lot of different flavours. But it is just too sweet for me at some points. The nose is nice, but it gets too sweet in the taste. Also, I found the drying oaky finish somewhat unpleasant.
Lead image from the whisky exchange and there are commission links within this review. These don’t influence our opinion.