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Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2019

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.

Conclusions

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.

Score: 4/10

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.

Conclusions

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.

Score: 3/10

Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2019 – Noortje’s review

Colour: hazelnut

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.

Conclusions

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.

Score: 5/10

Lead image from the whisky exchange and there are commission links within this review. These don’t influence our opinion.

CategoriesSingle Malt
Jason
Jason

JJ is based in Scotland, which means he’s able to reach out and enjoy a wealth of distillery trips and whiskies. Although, it’s more than likely you’ll find him in the Edinburgh Cadenhead's shop or in front of a laptop.

  1. Avatar
    Welsh Toro says:

    First things first and confession off my chest. I’m extremely wary of donating my money to whisky reviewers. Much as I love it it’s a fun hobby and trivial in the scheme of things. I direct debit my earnings to causes far more meaningful. I realise, however, that I really enjoy your daily content and your independence of mind. I recently Patreoned a fine spirits YouTube reviewer (you wont guess who) and that really made me think you should be next because I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Today I finally did it. Cheers.

    On to the whisky. Alarming conclusions as I’ve just bought a bottle. Just opened it too whilst reading the reviews. I like it but it’s overpriced. At 46% it’s thin. I’m not sure the older age statements are benefiting this whisky. I loved it when it was 5 years old. This is a decent whisky but it’s overpriced. It’s not as good as previous versions and I think Kilchoman need to rethink their direction. I think this dram should be £50-60.

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Thanks for the Patreon support WT, greatly appreciated and helps us to continue and expand what we do here on MALT daily.

      I agree on the Loch Gorm, it lacks body and punch. A little flaccid, when I was expecting something more robust and forceful. Price wise it is too much as well. Thinking about it more; I’d criticise the blending. I believe Kilchoman can do much better. Cheers, Jason.

      1. Avatar
        Welsh Toro says:

        Continuing with this dram I’ve changed my mind about value. It’s £40-£45. Very disappointing. The 2018 was much better.

        1. Jason
          Jason says:

          Sad to hear that WT, nothing worse than a disappointing purchase and these Kilchoman’s ain’t cheap. However, we’re on the same wavelength I feel for this release. Here’s hoping for the 2020 edition showcases an improved ability to blend, which was missing here.

  2. Avatar
    Martin G says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for your efforts, I’ve read a few of your reviews now and are always insightful and honest.

    Interesting you all didn’t favour this dram that much. I have not tried it but I liked the sprightly youthfulness and complexity of Machir Bay.

    I am posting though as I am sorry but I take issue with one of Jason’s comments.

    It was regarding the sentence where he says some people say he doesn’t like peated whiskies and then Jason states: “I just like good peat and nowadays we’re seeing peat and little else”.

    Well, you go from informed, respectable reviewer, to a whiskey snob in one sentence. I mean no offense, but who defines what is a ‘good’ peated whiskey to what is not good? It’s all subjective preference and everyone’s palette is different. So to say you only like good peat, well what about the peat whiskies that you didn’t like? Does that make them bad, not very good? I doubt it, another reviewer or consumer might LOVE those whiskies that you don’t like. And then it’s misleading.

    Have a preference, write about what floats your boat or not. But you can’t say you only like ‘good’ peat, you have an obligation of a fan base to consider.

    Also, I think alot of the newer expressions of peated whiskies are fantastic, freed from the shackles of age statements, distilleries can explore flavour profiles with new and intriguing characteristics.

    It’s a fantastic time to discover whiskies, of all types.

    All the best and much respect for the great reviews and time you spent building the site.

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Hi Martin

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting. We’re delighted that you’re enjoying what we’re doing daily.

      As for the peated comment you queried, the point I was making is we’re (or I’m) seeing, and tasting, more peated whiskies that are just the peat. Brought out to market to satisfy the thirst for peated expression. The subtle interplay and character that peat once brought to whiskies has been eroded. I’m experiencing more whiskies that are just full-on peat. It tromps over anything else and ticks the box of being a peated whisky.

      I’m far from a whisky snob; sure I could go back through the decades of peated whiskies I’ve been fortunate to try, but that doesn’t matter whatsoever, nor does it make me any better and it isn’t the point here. I like ‘good’ peat and it’ll be scored a such. A ‘bad’ peated whisky will receive a score accordingly.

      It’s all subjective on MALT and we trust our readers to enjoy the site and on occasion, take some guidance. But also, importantly, form their own opinion. Personally, I speak my mind and have always done. I totally respect someone might enjoy this whisky or something I haven’t. That’s the beauty of this liquid and exploring it.

      Cheers

      Jason

      1. Avatar
        Martin G says:

        Hi Jason,

        Thanks for your reply,

        Firstly, I must apologize for the ‘snob’ comment I don’t think that at all, I was trying to emphasize a point but that wasn’t really the right way of doing that. My apologies.

        It’s your site, you say what you want, I become a snob trying to say otherwise.

        I still stand by my point but everyone is free to discuss whiskey how they want and it all adds to the blossoming whiskey culture we have today.

        Keep up the great work

        Best

        Martin

        1. Jason
          Jason says:

          Hi again Martin

          No need to apologise! I’ve been called worse by my best friends

          Keep reading and leaving comments as we appreciate the feedback and interaction

          Cheers

          Jason

  3. Avatar
    Brad says:

    I’m surprised that the 2019 Edition didn’t hit the mark for you guys. For me and others I know it was their best effort yet and other reviewers on other sites agree…no doubt personal preferences come in but the scores seem abnormally low here? I’ve tasted a lot of Kilchoman including the new make and I’d rate this 2nd after the Red Wine, then Sauternes, Sanaig (might have been 2016 from memory) and then the rest not far after that. The earlier Loch Gorms were a lot rougher.

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Hi Brad

      Thanks for dropping by and a good comment. I’m not sure if you frequent MALT, if you do then you’d appreciate our scores are far more realistic.

      My own personal opinion, is that other sources score things favorably, especially when it is given out for free. And on this review you’ll see that we sought several opinions.

      I’ve been fortunate to have three of the Kilchoman 2019 releases this year. This Gorm didn’t work out so well. Beyond this article, I shared it with several others and they too were pretty non-plussed about it. That’s just the way whisky goes. My nectar might be Waterford and yours Jura. However, well have the 2020 edition to debate next year.

      Cheers, Jason.

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