Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing cask: Ex-Sherry Oloroso
Additional coloring: No
Average price: € 270.00
Official website: kilchomandistillery.com
It is rare for Kilchoman to state the precise age of one of their bottlings on the label, generally only stating the vintage in order to emphasise individual vintages in the agricultural spirit of the distillery. The age can of course be easily calculated, but when they make it explicit, it is certain to be a special occasion.
It happened for example in 2022 for the special edition on the occasion of the Fèis Ìle, with a 16-year-old resulting from the vatting of five ex-bourbon barrels from 2006, thus dating from just one year after the distillery was founded.
And it repeated itself this year, with a bottling exclusively for Kilchoman’s shop, again with a 2006 vintage (29 November, to be precise) but this time from a single butt ex sherry oloroso first fill that produced 602 cask strength bottles in May 2023, so a sixteen-and-a-half year old to be precise.
Needless to say, the opportunity to taste a Kilchoman not only at stated age but from the first casks (in the process of being all emptied) and what’s more single cask is a real treat.
Immediately very coastal and saline on the nose, with rivers of brine, citrus oysters, Taggiasca olives and wet rocks, accompanied by liquorice root, nutmeg, cinchona, roasted cane sugar and orange peel. Acrid and at times chemical smoke frames the aromas, which in the glass sway between sweet and mineral evocations, with the roughness of leather acting as a backdrop. Along the length it glides towards an idea of panforte cake.
The palate is lively and sparkling, dominated by orange declined in its candied and marmalade form, with copious handfuls of spices (nutmeg, coriander, cloves) and an imperious injection of blackberries and sour cherries, steeped in smoke and soot, which distinctly shift the focus to sherried influences, again embodied by liquorice and cinchona. Bitter notes alternate in the background, with the fishy and saline component placed in the background, while it becomes drier and rougher over time, bringing out a curious note of raw chestnuts.
Long, dry finish of wood, red fruits, citrus, nuts with distant coastal and saline inflections.
Complex and rich on the nose and palate, it perhaps tends to flatten out a little over time, but I’m really talking about subtle personal impressions. I admit my preference for bourbon ageing, although the marriage with sherry works but does not do amazing wonders.