Kilchoman Distillery Scotland

Kilchoman Sanaig 2018

Review of Kilchoman Sanaig, from the (so far) youngest distillery on Islay.

Origin: Isle of slay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Gradation: 46%ABV
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry Oloroso
Chillfiltered: No
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Kilchoman
Average price: € 68.00
Official website: kilchomandistillery.com
Vote: 82/100

As you know by now, Islay is something of a whisky paradise: with almost more distilleries than inhabitants, the island’s Scotch production is one of the best known and most renowned, especially for lovers of peat-based spirits who find many interesting expressions here.
The most recent of the distilleries with commercial bottlings is Kilchoman: owned by the Wills family, it opened its doors in 2005 and since the first bottle produced in 2009 has never stopped reaping rewards (apart from the malt, which is partly grown on site).
As of 2019, it has lost its record as Islay’s youngest distillery with the opening of Ardnahoe, which of course doesn’t currently distribute bottlings of its own.

It’s amazing how a distillery that can properly be described as a family-run business has managed to build up a (well-deserved) reputation in such a short space of time, thanks in part to its intelligent ability to create distinctive bottlings from the outset, which over the years have evolved and won over a large number of enthusiasts. 100% Islay is one of the most eagerly awaited bottlings each year, and the quality yield isn’t only consistent over time, but even growing.
And a note of credit also goes to their website, which is modern and very pleasant to navigate.

A brother to the Machir Bay, this Sanaig differs from the it in being heavily influenced by ex-Sherry Oloroso casks, about 70% of the mix, added to the ex-Bourbon ones, although this influence is less present than one might think.
It has an inviting golden colour (100% natural), and on the nose the sherried influence is immediately perceived in the ripe fruit and vanilla, with a very subtle and elegant peat layer. If you let it breathe (don’t be greedy and wait a bit, come on!), a hint of medicinal comes through too, and the peaty side seems more herbaceous than burnt. Overall the aroma is full and pleasant, without any invasiveness from the alcohol.
In fact, now that you can finally drink it, the alcohol is still tame, and instead a discreet orange component arrives to add to the same fruity and herbaceous scents on the nose, with the smokiness more present. Again the medicinal note, but more saline, with the delicious oceanic island component. The sweetness of the Sherry doesn’t fight and is forced to coexist with the other aromas, so much so that at times you can even detect a hint of bitterness. Not exactly balanced, perhaps too young to be more compact and coherent, but the overall dram is pleasant, leaving a peat and salty finish to accompany the memory for quite a long time.

On paper it could have been a sherried bomb, but instead the Kilchoman character tamed the sweetness of the cherries, although the end result could be perfected.

Other bottlings in the blog:
Kilchoman 100% Islay 9th Edition
Kilchoman 100% Islay 10th Edition
Kilchoman 2018 Sauternes Cask Finish
Kilchoman Beija Flor 11yo
Kilchoman Machir Bay 2018
Kilchoman Machir Bay Christmas Edition 2020
Kilchoman STR Cask Matured 2019

Other perspectives:
The Whiskey Reviewer

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