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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Kilchoman 100% Islay Whisky Review!

Yes, you're right, this was meant to be a review of Ardbeg's new release, Perpetuum. But with Ardbeg day coming and going yesterday, I could not get my hands on a bottle, there just weren't any available for retail sale. You may recall, a similar thing happened last year, so I probably should have expected this. Wouldn't it make sense to have the Ardbeg day release available to buy on Ardbeg day? When other parts of the world have already had it on the shelves for weeks, it seems a little odd.

Anyway, I did get a taste of the Perpetuum, at the Gresham, and it's quite good, but I don't want to do a full review until I've tasted it from my own bottle. I've placed my order, and it should be arriving late this week / early next week, fingers crossed. I'll review it ASAP, regardless. My apologies for any disappointment. 

On to a lighter and brighter note, I decided to review an Islay anyway, and one that's new to me. Kilchoman is an excellent distillery, I'm a big fan of their Machir Bay & Loch Gorm standard releases, their excellent Port Cask release, and the excellent 'small batch' release I reviewed a while back. Their whiskies are young, but don't drink like their age might suggest. 

This 100% Islay bottling is a little different though, in that it's only made using Kilchoman's own barley. Being a farm distillery, they can make whisky entirely on site, from barley to bottle. Normally they only use a portion of this local barley, and source the rest from Port Ellen Maltings. Their 100% Islay line, however, is only made from their local 'in-house' barley. That local barley, by the way, is of the Optic variety, and is peated to around 25 ppm prior to distilling, around 40% lower than that sourced from Port Ellen Maltings, so this isn't going to be as peaty or smoky as their other releases. 

While it doesn't carry an age statement, it's known to be a blending/vatting of 3- and 4-year old malt matured in ex-bourbon casks. As with all Kilchoman's whiskies, it's non-chill filtered and bottled without added colouring, but it's slightly higher in strength than their standard range, getting a small bump up to 50%. This is the second edition of 100% Islay, and was bottled in 2011. Anyway, enough talk, let's get our dram on!
Kilchoman 100% Islay 2nd edition, NAS, 50%, Islay, Scotland.
Vatting of 3- and 4-year old ex-bourbon matured whisky, 100% produced at Kilchoman distillery, from 'barley to bottle', peated to around 25 ppm. Non-chill filtered, natural colour.

Colour: Pale straw.

Nose: Cola syrup, drying grass, slightly herbal, a bit of acetone / nail polish remover. Hint of ashy smoke. 

Texture: Light, slightly oily.

Taste: Dry, ashy smoke, a little sour, slightly rough around the edges, a little heat. Sweet straw, a bit of lemon oil. Some play-doh / plasticine? 

Finish: Medium-long, Dry, Earthy peat and mixed grain. 

Score: 3 out of 5.

Notes: This one seems more raw and rough than the other Kilchoman's I've tasted, it doesn't hide it's youth as well, and there's not a lot of complexity there. Still good quality though, and enjoyable. Also interesting to try a peated Islay malt which hasn't a big coastal influence at any point, with the farm and distillery being slightly in-land on Islay. 

There has already been great things from this distillery, and there will be plenty more. They know what they're doing. However, if you're keen to try your first Kilchoman, I would recommend the Machir Bay over this one. Not only is it cheaper and easier to find, it's a better representation of the distillery, in my opinion, thanks to it's (approximately) extra year of maturation, and ex-sherry cask component. 

Nonetheless, the 100% Islay is worth trying, and it'll suit those who prefer their Islay's with slightly less 'Islay-ness'. It can still be found online here at Nippy Sweetie Whiskies, which is impressive considering it was released over 3 years ago. Get it while you can...