Well, hello again everyone!
Today we have a look at a small distillery I love to love. They really seem to be focussed on what matters (the whisky) and not on how much whisky they can fire into space.
On my trip I bought 2 bottles of Kilchoman: Kilchoman Madeira and the 10th Anniversary. I've also got a sample of Master of Malt's 2008 Single Cask, so we'll throw that in to compare. I like to compare. (Cough) For research purposes of course.
Let's do the Madeira first since it should be a little softer and less peaty.
This was fully matured in first fill Madeira Barrels from 2011 to 2015. Only 4 years old but it's taken on a wonderful colour. Release of 6100 bottles.
Kilchoman 2011 Madeira 50%
Nose: Rich and fruity. Dark and nutty with dark chocolate, coffee, cashew nut, hazelnut, juicy fruit- Blackberry, blueberry, blackcurrant, some citrus fruit- Lemon and lime slices, perfume, Turkish delight, mocha. A little of the sea, sweet powerful smoke in the background making it all a bit more complex, incense smoke. A little green leafiness developing, some putty.
Water: Much more fruity! Darker. More Madeira, more coffee, more chocolate, less smoke. Blackberry juice, blueberry, toffee, fudge, fig, strong English tea, stewed fruit, saffron spice. Then even more fruity again with Lemoncello, more blackberry and blueberry juice. Some brown sugar.
Taste: A light citrus and stewed fruit arrival, then gradual building big peat smoke with lots of ashy fruit, lots and lots of cola bottles, blueberry, blackberry, blackcurrant, some citrus in there too- Lemon mostly, kiln, soot, coals. A little putty and burnt plastic (not unpleasant) into the finish.
Water: Fruitier arrival, then much more dark fruitiness, almost Port-like with rich blueberries and blackberries, some nuttiness, Madeira covered chocolate, black coffee, some building ashiness with fresh ginger spice, then ash and soot into the finish.
Finish: Medium/Long length. Ashy then juicy citrus and dark fruit- Blackberries staying. After a bit the classic dry smoke creeps back.
Notes: Distilled 2011, bottled 2015. 4 years old, Madeira full maturation. Like peaty blackcurrant juice.
Delicious stuff! It's almost too sweet! And I love 'em sweet. It might be that the smoke isn't really balanced with the sweetness. There is smoke. There is sweetness. But they're almost separate from each other... Make sense? No? Let's keep going....
Onto the 10th Anniversary bottling. This was released as a limited run of 3000 bottles that you can only buy from the distillery. Released at Feis Ile this year to celebrate their 10th anniversary (duh). It contains various vintages from Bourbon barrels and Sherry casks. Includes barrels from 2005-2012, including some whisky from Cask No.1. Is it a millilitre? Is it a bottle's worth? Is this just a whisky to collect? Let's find out!
Nose: Quite rich and complex. Sweet, spicy, fruity, smoky, mineral and green notes. Quite creamy, a little popcorn maltiness, vanilla pod, green oak, lemon and lime citrus, peach and apricot. More Sherried and fruitily sweet after a bit.
Water: Softer, darker and less green. Soft lemon, chocolate, oak coming out with liquorice, a little dry with peated grist. Tobacco and some Sherried fruit developing after a bit.
Taste: Sharp arrival, lovely lemon zest and peel, then stony lemon juice with peat smoke developing and mingling with it. I wouldn't it's say complex but it's integrated and powerful.
Water: Softer arrival, fruity at first then cold sea water. Oak developing with Sherry fruit, liquorice and some oakiness, a little tannic and much more drying, then powerful smoke really kicks up with the stony lemon juice coming back. More bitter and tannic after a bit.
Finish: Long length. A peaty puff, then lasting lemon citrus and mineral smoke. With water- More sherried and oaky with tannins, coffee and chocolate.
Notes: The Sherry is coming out more with each glass.
A great whisky, don't get me wrong, but not quite hitting all the right notes. Again, I think it could have been better.
And a last one, let's make it an indie. How 'bout this single cask from 2008 bottled by Master of Malt as part of their Single Cask range? It was matured in a 1st fill Bourbon barrel from 2008 to 2013. 5 years old. Should be pretty comparable to the 10th Anniversary but without the Sherry.
Colour: White Wine
Nose: Much drier with less fruit than the 10th, more peat. Dense peat, medicinal edge- some TCP, a malty note- Popcorn, sweet vanilla, cooling note- cold sea water? and liquorice root. Quite dry.
Water: More dry, dry driftwood, dry white wine. More malty with more popcorn, a bit of biscuit, a little seaweed. More TCP too. A little fruitiness appearing after a bit.
Taste: Creamy, big malty sweetness then powerful peat creeping in and building and building- burning heather and tobacco, kiln, ginger and white pepper spice. Liquorice and cold sea water into the finish.
Water: Fruitier arrival going very dry. Bone dry white wine, white grape, a little vanilla. Some dry spice- dry ginger. Very dry with lots of oak into the finish.
Finish: Long length. Burnt tobacco and smouldering peat embers. With water- It's much drier, dry oak.
Notes: Very dry. Doesn't have the fruitiness of the others but it's more powerful.
Personally I prefer the Madeira, but they're all really good.
UPDATE: While finishing my bottle of Madeira, the rubbery notes started to come out too much and unbalanced the whisky quite a bit. On the other hand, the 10th Anniversary is still improving in the bottle and the green oak notes have subsided more.
Madeira updated score: 79/100
10th Anniversary updated score: 83/100
Thanks for reading!