Me and Kilchoman don’t match. There’s no good reason for that, but it’s just the case.
It’s weird, since I’ve looked back and found a dozen or so reviews of Kilchoman on my blog. All of them (except for that very first Port Cask) were at least good, and most were better than that. So, based on quality, and their independence, and the focus on local production, I should be shouting their name as often as I can.
But yet, somehow, I can’t find myself to be enthusiastic when a new Loch Gorm comes out, even though I know it’s a high quality dram that is worth the € 75 they ask for it. And yet, I’m not even inclined to click the link in my mailbox.
So, when my friends HE and HE brought their newest bottling (at least one of the HEs is part of 12Barrels) along for the Blog Birthday Bash last summer, I was positively surprised to find out this was a Kilchoman and I wanted a bottle of it.
What helps is that they don’t release to the general public and their prices are more just to cover costs than anything else. So, in the end, this 12 year old Kilchoman only set me back € 65. I’m a happy camper.
And now I sit here, looking at the last dregs of the bottle in my glass, and wonder why they didn’t wait one week longer for it to be 13 years old. Anyway, in the end that doesn’t matter, it’s just that there’s not much Kilchoman around at this age.
Tasting notes then!
There’s quite some vanilla sweetness at first, followed closely by the natural surroundings of the distillery. Barley, brine, coastal salinity, peat smoke. Some minerals in the form of slate, but also apple crumble with some custard. Heather too, with some honey.
The palate is quite gentle in its alcohol, but there’s some bite from the flavors. The dryness makes itself known and the heather brings more of it. Lots of salty coastal notes with marram grass, brine, sea weed. The sweetness is almost gone except for some heather honey notes. Peat and smoke, but mostly earthy peat. The smoke is nicely kept in check.
The finish is surprisingly hot on the way down, and mellows only a few seconds after swallowing it. Rather salivating with gorgeous dryness and coastal notes. Smoky embers of a beach bonfire. That kind of stuff.
I don’t want to go too poetic, so I’ll keep the bonfire stuff to myself now.
This is a cracking Kilchoman and it shows why this distillery might deserve some more attention from me. However, this whisky does need some proper attention, as if you drink it without any, it will go down as ‘just another Islay bourbon cask’ and it’s much more than that.
Especially the lack of sweetness and the heathery notes make this stand out to me, and that it’s not overpowered by the peat. Even though Islay is known for exactly that, peat, I love the flavor to be a bit more tempered.
Kilchoman 12, 12/07/2006-04/07/2019, Bourbon cask #145/2006, 50.8%, OB for 12Barrels Selection