I fell in love with Kilchoman thanks to an introduction from Marc Pendlebury (WhiskyBrother) years ago and my good friend Theo (one of The Whisky Pigs founding members) has carried on my love affair with the distillery thanks to some fantastic samples from him. Based on his “wall of Kilchoman” (over 100 bottles!), he must be one of the most passionate and dedicated Kilchoman lovers on the planet. It made absolute sense to ask him if I could share a recent post of his on a Kilchoman fan group on Facebook on my blog.
And here it is! All credit to Theo and the fantastic whisky coming out of the farm distillery on Islay…
I finally found the time to do the LG (Loch Gorm) lateral I’ve been threatening since 2015 came out. A week before 2014 landed I killed my first 2013, expecting 2014 to be of the same calibre. To say I was faintly disappointed with 2014 is a bit of an understatement, but that’s probably because at that point I still expected Kilchoman to do what every distillery does. Stay constant and when you’re new, release older stuff as it matures.
Then came 2015, sort of a return to form, but different again to 13 and 14. At that point my bottle of 13 was a cherished, distant memory, the one no other would ever equal. Then came 16. Spent some time getting to know what’s going on there, and had a blinding realization that we shouldn’t actually be expecting the traditional distillery approach here. Reason I fell hopelessly in love with Kilchoman is exactly because of the unpredictability of their releases. Why was I expecting consistency when the only constant is that this is beautiful spirit, consistently well made, but always surprising?
The colour on the 4 varies gloriously, and each dram has very unique character. 13’s nose is subdued, very “clean” with not a preponderance of sherry, 14 is slightly more austere on the sherry, whereas 15 plonks that sherry nose right there, and 16…well hell! Doesn’t that sucker shout “it’s me, sherry!!!!”. Peat seems to do the same thing across the board, but that wasn’t my focus of the nosing, more erudite and perceptive folk have written beautiful notes on these drams, and yes they are members of this wonderful little group.
By this point Nine Inch Nails had gotten me in the mood for drinking, and I decided that as Scotland’s finest was in my glass it might as well also be on the turntable. It were a sunny afternoon and I was feeling relaxed.
On the palate 13 explodes, young, peppery, sherry-shit going down like a crazy tango with the young fruit and peaty bits. 14 comparatively lacked that sherry “boom” and the peat stomped around exerting it’s authority over the naughty young malts. 15 decided that the peppery arrival was en vogue again, but despite the big sherry nose seemed to drift off a bit to go and introspect on exactly what it wanted to do now that it had arrived. 16 had a flash of peppery arrival that portended of big things, but suddenly became shy and decided to turn into a warm earthy softly seductive but slightly confused thirty-something.
Flipped the vinyl over, Liz warbled as beautifully as ever, and decided to see how this lot finished. Well, 14 had the most assertive finish as the sherry didn’t really even peep through the window, and mister peat decided it was his show. 13 had a good, long finish because of the massive pepper and peat bomb, 15 had an adequately long finish but settled on a Clash track for inspiration on what to do. 16 seemed to think that she was the most mature girl at the party so didn’t have to stick around. Very harmonious but seemed lacking in body. Took the view that she would not detain us with her departure, which was comparatively prompt.
So all 4 are Oloroso maturations, 13-15 5yo, 16 6yo. None had the lovely astringent nature of long term Oloroso maturation, but for this dram I’m not sure it would actually work.
I must admit, 16 is enigmatic as it has that very soft complexity that I picked up in Sanaig, last and this year of Sanaig are my “drink it now! NOW!!!” drams when I slither into my hole after a long day of sowing dissent.
Brilliant nose, but the dram seems to meander after. 13 was the feisty dram, nose very indifferent even after 20 minutes, but “bam!pow!” In the mouth. 14 cruised along with some sherry baggage but the peat carried it, and to be honest I respect this dram for it’s sherry/peat finish. Probably the closest you’ll get to the Oloroso magic. 15 had the nose, body, enough finish…