Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: Kilchoman 2010

With a population just over 3000 and 7 whisky houses located on the island, Islay's person to distillery ratio had risen dangerously over 400.  In 2005, Kilchoman added an eighth distillery and mercifully brought the ratio back to a manageable 380 or so.  In the United States, we have been fortunate enough to receive two vintage bottlings: the Summer 2010 release and the Winter 2010 release.  Both are three-year-old whiskies aged in Bourbon casks, non chill-filtered and bottled at 46 %.
Kilchoman Summer 2010

Price: $60-$70
Strength: 46 %

The nose promises dirty, oily peat, and the drink delivers it all the way through the palate and finish.  A peat monster, with the peat style halfway between Laphroaig and Bruichladdich: sod and farm, but also some brine and iodine.  The peat flavor is tinged with licorice and a hint of oak, and the sticky mouth-feel owes a lot to being non chill-filtered.  I would guess the age to be 10 years except for the finish, which is a little rough and hot with ashes and smoke, but is nevertheless lingering and pleasant enough.  Perhaps not the most complex whisky, but a great drink for peat-heads, and with its arrival I declare the Big Three of Islay peat monsters (Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg) to now be the Big Four.  86 points (B).

Kilchoman Winter 2010

Price: $60-$70
Strength: 46 %

The peat is pulled back a hair but better balanced with soft marshmallow and oak.  Like the Summer release, the Winter also has a great oily texture and tastes mature beyond its years.  This was my favorite dram of Julio's Liquors' 2011 Whisk(e)y Grand Tasting, and the combination of big peat and mouth-coating texture is reminiscent of other great Islay whiskies such as Ardbeg 10 or Old Master's Caol Ila 12.  The marshmallow is a great flavor to balance the peat here, and unlike the Summer release I do not get licorice or as much dirt.  As above, some youth pops through on the finish.  Altogether, the best 3-year-old whisky I've ever had!  90 points (A-).  

Other Kilchoman reviews:

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