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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

June 5, 2023


  Many Islay, in celebration of Feis Ile 2023 and of the Queen of the Hebrides


Crazy single cask Kilchoman adlib

Imagine I almost forgot Kilchoman! It's true that we haven't tasted many Kilchomans lately, so we'll try to make it right… There's plenty, including many different finishings, so let's stay alert. And to make amend, we'll have fifteen of them within just one session; will that be enough?

Martine and Anthony, Kilchoman, 2006 (WF Archive)



Kilchoman 8 yo 2012/2021 'Tequila Finish' (53.4%, OB, The Whisky Exchange, 247 bottles)

Kilchoman 8 yo 2012/2021 'Tequila Finish' (53.4%, OB, The Whisky Exchange, 247 bottles) Three stars
A tequila finish, really? As in 'tequila'? Why not add a worm? (which is not exactly a worm, I know…) Colour: white wine. Nose: not too sure the tequila is noticeable, not even sure I could tell, I've probably tried less than fifty tequilas in my whole life. Indeed, there's a clear rooty side, carrots, celeriac, some very clean earth, broken branches, and a rather peppery smoke. With water: some kind of suet, turnips..; And it is pretty clean. Angelica, gentian… Mouth (neat): more carrots, fennel seeds, indeed tequila (or mezcal, I'm more familiar with mezcal), with touches of olives, wasabi, lime zests… With water: sameish, plus a small soapy touch that would remind us of some… gins. Finish: medium, smoky, fresh, rooty, earthy. Anise-like roots in the aftertaste. Comments: let's keep an open mind. It's certainly a good trans-category spirit. Welcome to whisky 3.0.

SGP:466 - 81 points.

Kilchoman 11 yo 2010/2022 '100% Islay Bourbon Matured' (52.5%, OB, LMDW, Antipodes, 220 bottles)

Kilchoman 11 yo 2010/2022 '100% Islay Bourbon Matured' (52.5%, OB, LMDW, Antipodes, 220 bottles) Five stars
I doubt any wood could beat a good barrel. Colour: white wine. Nose: goodness gracious, does this work! Fried butter at first, then mentholated bananas, curries, mint tea… With water: it was a great barrel and you cannot not think of Dr Swan. Mouth (neat): superb, maybe my favourite Kilchoman of all times, with abundant pineapples and grapefruits on top of a wonderful rubbery smokiness, plus many mints, spearmint, peppermint... With water: sweet curry, more natural rubber, some mangos, some cigarette tobacco (Mum's Kools). Finish: rather long, fantastically herbal, mentholy, rubbery and tropical. Gentian in the aftertaste. Hurray. Comments: extremely impressive, if a tad 'whisky 3.0' too. Great wee barrel… Devilish, more of this please, Anthony.
SGP:666 - 90 points.

Kilchoman 13 yo 2007/2021 'Bourbon Matured' (53.9%, OB, The Whisky Exchange, cask #197, 204 bottles)

Kilchoman 13 yo 2007/2021 'Bourbon Matured' (53.9%, OB, The Whisky Exchange, cask #197, 204 bottles) Three stars and a half
Made from barley peated to 50ppm. Colour: white wine. Nose: you don't quite feel those pretty Ardbeggian 50ppm, there's rather quite some coconut and citrus peel, toffee apples, limoncello, sweet oak, vanilla… With water: back to doughs, brioche, sponge cake, biscuits… But where are those ppms? Mouth (neat): curiously Haribo-y, full of jellies, babies, crocodiles, beans, bears… A feeling of aniseed liqueur flavoured with coconut and vanilla, plus just some young 'MGP' bourbon. With water: same feelings, even some cachaça, more limoncello too, St-Germain, elderflowers… Finish: medium, sweet and rounded, with more smoky wine gums. Comments: excellent drop, but you do feel the cask did the job, even if we know the distillate is first-class. A lot of sweetness, almost Japanese-style.

SGP:654 - 84 points.

How about some young sherry?

Kilchoman 2009/2014 (59.3%, OB, Distillery Shop, oloroso, cask #424, 680 bottles)

Kilchoman 2009/2014 'Sherry' (59.3%, OB, Distillery Shop, cask #424, 680 bottles) Three stars and a half
Indeed an older bottling. Colour: gold. Nose: oh good fun, some scoria, burnt wood, lapsang souchong, chocolate, aluminium cutlery, marrow, roasted nuts, metal polish, old banknotes… All directions indeed. With water: more metal polish, iron, old kettle, XIXth century stove, mutton meat, tajine… This sure isn't Glenmo 10, if you see what I mean. Mouth (neat): better focused than on the nose, more on peppered chocolate, hops, mint lozenges, mentholy chilli (I know)… Seriously, what's this? With water: gets more bouillony. Some touches of seawater, dried kelp, Chinese fish sauce… Finish: medium, more leathery, with some tobacco and meaty 'things'. That meat that Turks used to keep under their horse saddles. Yes, of course I've tried that (well, a recreation by some Turkish chef, it was excellent). Comments: it's punk whisky! Yeah go score this…
SGP:564 – 84 points.

Are we ready for this? Didn't we mention mezcal?...

Kilchoman 8 yo 2012/2021 'Mezcal Cask Finish' (52.8%, OB, The Whisky Exchange, cask #828, 223 bottles)

Kilchoman 8 yo 2012/2021 'Mezcal Finish' (52.8%, OB, The Whisky Exchange, cask #828, 223 bottles) Three stars and a half
Obviously ex-reposado or ex-anejo mezcal. It must be great fun to be located in one of the most remote parts of a remote Scottish island and to use casks from just anywhere in the world. Now, was it Clooney's mezcal? Colour: white wine. Nose: it's fine, it's not overly mezcaly (although I cherish mezcal), it's even soft like a soft Caol Ila. Touches of gherkins, perhaps, one green olive, some grass smoke (not that grass), perhaps leek… With water: more proper Islay, peat, smoke, lemons, seaweed… Where's the agave? Mouth (neat): very good! Lemons, gherkins, olives, smoked kippers, capers, seawater, Kools… I keep mentioning Kool because my dear mother used to smoke Kools. She's now switched to Stuyvesant and she is 88. Go figure… With water: very good, fatter, more on branches and roots. Finish: long, briny. Sour fruit, seaweed… Comments: I'm not hundred percent sure I found the mezcal, to be honest, but it is an excellent Scottish-Mexican drop. I like it much better than the 'tequila'. Next, sotol?

SGP:566 - 84 points.

Oh there, while we're trying crazy casks…

Kilchoman 5 yo 2017/2022 'Cognac Matured' (58.4%, OB, LMDW, Antipodes, cask #268, 400 bottles)

Kilchoman 5 yo 2017/2022 'Cognac Matured' (58.4%, OB, LMDW, Antipodes, cask #268, 400 bottles) Four stars
50ppm, once more. Let's see if once more, we won't 'feel' these ppms… By the way, LMDW would tell us that they've used Port Ellen Maltings barley and cognac wood from Ferrand's. With modern booze, everything is in everything. Colour: white wine. Nose: great. Cider vinegar, seawater, horseradish, olives, samphire brine, smoked water, pear juice… With water: very fresh, rather with ashes and cider apples, not unlike a young Caol Ila. Mouth (neat): lovely straight peater, no cognac in the way, just some added roundness (okay, a handful of raisins). With water: a little nougat and dried figs. Is that the cognac? Finish: medium long, this time with some marmalade and even a little honey. Say, heather. Comments: they needn't mention the cognac, I believe nobody would have noticed. Quite.

SGP:555 - 85 points.

Kilchoman 6 yo 2012/2018 (55.6%, OB, HNWS Taiwan, PX sherry finish, cask #626)

Kilchoman 6 yo 2012/2018 'PX Sherry Finish' (55.6%, OB, HNWS Taiwan, cask #626) Four stars
What's a finishing when a whisky is this young? Rather double maturation? Let's discuss that… No. Colour: gold. Nose: cigars and metal polish. Brake fluid, tarmac, burnt beans… With water: exhaust fumes, new rubber bands, juniper, capsicum, black olives… Mouth (neat): excellent. Smoked fudge, peppered marmalade, tobacco, curry, sweet chilli, masala… With water: bits of inner tube, rubber, salted lemon juice, walnut skins, new plastics… Finish: long, very phenolic and kind of chemical, tarry, salty… Rather a lot burnt rubber, I would say. Comments: it's a crazy one. I wouldn't down more than; say 2cl at a time, but it's got obvious charms. Hello, Taiwan!
SGP:467 - 85 points.

More Taiwan stuff…

Kilchoman 2015/2020 '100% Islay PX matured' (58.6%, OB, Taiwan Twin Lions Society and Or Sileis, cask #320, 330 bottles)

Kilchoman 2015/2020 '100% Islay PX Matured' (58.6%, OB, Taiwan Twin Lions Society and Or Sileis, cask #320, 330 bottles) Three stars and a half
Rather 20ppm this time. Which will never truly translate into the spirit anyway, those are just figures. Colour: full gold. Nose: porridge and toffee, some struck matches, Van Houten's chocolate, old kettle, gas and truffle… With water: roasted chestnuts, mud, humus, more truffles, crude chocolate/cocoa, fiberglass, metal polish… Mouth (neat): good, craft, oak-driven, curry-like, full of leather, marmalade and citrons. With water: aah, walnut cake and sweet paprika/turmeric sauce. Something of South-Indian cuisine, which I utterly love. By the way, there's a restaurant in Glasgow called Dakhin, which I would wholeheartedly recommend. Best South-Indian dishes I've ever tried, it's at 89 Candleriggs. Finish: long and a little loco. Green peppers, more turmeric, green smoke… Comments: probably totally unbalanced, but I suppose balance is not exactly what you're looking for in a young Kilchoman.
SGP:466 - 84 points.

We might need a barrel…

Kilchoman 9 yo 2012/2021 '100% Islay Bourbon Barrel' (55.3%, OB, LMDW Conquête, bourbon barrel, cask #17)

Kilchoman 9 yo 2012/2021 '100% Islay Bourbon Barrel' (55.3%, OB, LMDW Conquête, bourbon barrel, cask #17) Three stars and a half
I'll say it again, we all know you can't beat a bourbon, don't we. This is local Rockside barley, peated to 20ppm. Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh and a little rough, much pleasantly so, developing on branches, white roots, turnips and seawater. Oysters are in the neighbourhood. With water: fresh almonds and marzipan, which equals civilisation. Mouth (neat): very good, sweeter, rooty, simple, salty. A feeling of Tio Pepe, and yes I know this is ex-bourbon. With water: do not add too much water. Not a great swimmer, which is bizarre. A little bit wishy-washy, I would say. Finish: rather long, much saltier. Apples and a little coconut in the end. Comments: excellent, just a tad 'simple'. Could be that whackier casks work better with Kilchoman.
SGP:555 - 83 points.

A wee break now, we'll be back soon…

Kilchoman 10 yo 2011/2022 'Fresh Bourbon Barrel' (55.8%, OB, LMDW, Antipodes, cask #721, 240 bottles)

Kilchoman 10 yo 2011/2022 'Fresh Bourbon Barrel' (55.8%, OB, LMDW, Antipodes, cask #721, 240 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: this one's as coastal as a young Laphroaig, with a little more lapsang souchong and soft roots (than in a young Laphroaig). Lemon zests, peppermint, a touch of citrusy gin perhaps… And even rose petals, which is not very Laphroaig, I agree. With water: plain ashes and coal smoke, plus chalk, marl and crushed slate. Mouth (neat): once again there is some Laphroaigness at first then some formidable floral tones, zests, aniseed, fennel dill, pink grapefruits.. With water: wonderful purity, zestiness, some IPA… Finish: medium, citrusy, with some Szechuan pepper, grapefruits and citrusy hops. That's right, IPA. That young Laphroaig is back in the aftertaste. Comments: we might need to be more careful, some of these young Secret Islays might be Kilchoman instead of Laphroaig, after all.

SGP:656 - 90 points.

Please more bourbon…

Kilchoman 13 yo 2007/2021 'Fresh Bourbon Barrel' (54.4%, OB, LMDW, Conquête, , cask #362)

Kilchoman 13 yo 2007/2021 'Fresh Bourbon Barrel' (54.4%, OB, LMDW, Conquête, cask #362) Four stars
50ppm once more, from Port Ellen. Now it is said that malt may already lose phenols on the lorry between PE Maltings and Lagavulin, so imagine what can happen between PE Maltings and Rockside Farm… Colour: straw. Nose: this one is less complex, less elegant, a little more brutal, smoky, peppery… Not sure any ppms have been lost during transport, after all. With water: much nicer, with almonds, sesame, yuzu, clams, wormwood… Mouth (neat): straight, smoky, rather tarry, with big lemons too, and many ashes, charcoal and else. With water: salt, pepper, radish, chalk, celeriac… Finish: rather long, still a tad rougher (rougher than the amazing 2011s for sure), getting saltier by the second. Very ashy, salty and rooty aftertaste. Comments: very good for sure, just a tad, well, rougher.
SGP:457 - 85 points.

Kilchoman 10 yo 2011/2021 '100% Islay' (57.3%, OB, LMDW, Conquête, oloroso butt, cask #144)

Kilchoman 10 yo 2011/2021 '100% Islay Oloroso Butt' (57.3%, OB, LMDW, Conquête, cask #144) Three stars and a half
20ppm. Colour: gold. Nose: elegant, on mango cake, beeswax, camphor, tiger balm, marmalade, soft pepper, pu-her tea, walnuts both fresh and old… With water: smoked tea, lady's cream, skin moisturiser, sesame oil, a touch of blackberry jelly… Mouth (neat): rather a little less 'elegant', more on raisins, grapefruit, soot… And walnuts too. Pipe tobacco, a little rubber... With water: some heather honey and dried meat, beef jerky, Grisons meat, some metallic touches here and there… Finish: medium, maltier, with some marmalade and smoky lemons. Perhaps not as 'clear' as the stunning ex-bourbons from the same vintage, but I agree that's also a matter of taste. Raspberry ganache and chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: very fine.
SGP:555 - 84 points.

Kilchoman 10 yo 2012/2023 (53.6%, OB, WCN 20th Anniversary, Marsala finish, cask #589)

Kilchoman 10 yo 2012/2023 'Marsala Finish' (53.6%, OB, WCN 20th Anniversary, cask #589) Four stars
WCN stands for Whisky Club Nantais. A bunch of very nice people! Colour: gold. Nose: it is a tad leathery at first, with walnuts too, various kinds of tobacco, cakes, curries, earth… In this one too there's something a little 'Indian', rather than Sicilian. I have to say I also enjoy this mint and oranges combo in the background. With water: more curry yet. Yellow curry. Mouth (neat): very similar on the palate, slightly leathery, curry-like indeed, peppery, with some paprika and a rather grassy smoke. Perhaps a few dates too. With water: raisins coming out, pepper, chillies… And more raisins. Finish: bittersweet, long, with raisins and baked apricots and mangos. Not too sure about those mangos. Comments: from Islay to Madras, and back. Good fun, even if this one's a tad unorthodox and marginally dissonant.
SGP:565 - 86 points.

An older one, please…

Kilchoman 14 yo 2006/2021 (54.5%, OB, LMDW, Conquête, oloroso hogshead, cask #318)

Kilchoman 14 yo 2006/2021 'Oloroso Hogshead' (54.5%, OB, LMDW, Conquête, cask #318) Four stars
50ppm this time again. Remember the Distillery started in 2005. Not too sure this is not some pre-fire Kilchoman. Colour: gold. Nose: it is a different style, more pungent, with more coal smoke, burnt papers, soot, roasted nuts, roasted chestnuts, ground coffee… And in the background, fried onions and parsley. With water: fumes, tyres, smoked ham, cigars… Mouth (neat): big dry and salty oloroso, pepper, walnuts again and again, a little mustard, a touch of varnish, coffee, amontillado-style… With water: metal polish, more and more walnuts, some soy sauce, Jäger, indeed oloroso, mustard… Finish: very long, very oloroso-y. Full-on walnuts and mustard. Comments: probably the driest of them all. Like it a lot.

SGP:366 - 87 points.

A last one, let's make it a bourbon…

Kilchoman 10yo 2007/2017 '20th Anniversary' (56.6%, OB, LMDW, bourbon barrel, cask #196, 221 bottles)

Kilchoman 10yo 2007/2017 'Bourbon Barrel 20th Anniversary' (56.6%, OB, LMDW, cask #196, 221 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: oh nice, some menthol upfront, some aniseed, reseda, then oysters and ashes. And seawater. With water: I would unashamedly mention Caol Ila this time, but of course it is Kilchoman, first and foremost. Class act. Mouth (neat): awesomely herbal, with this time again a little pastis, liquorice, aniseed indeed, spearmint, olives, then lime juice. I've tried this one when it came out, I'm dead sure it improved within those six years in glass. Superb freshness. With water: so good, so fresh, you would almost believe this is a great batch of Chartreuse jaune… from the Rhinns of Islay. Finish: long, extremely pure. Salty liquorice with lemon oil and peppermint. Comments: a signature bottling, as they say at Michelin *** restaurants. Probably the winner.
SGP:567 - 90 points.

So, what have we tried? Bourbon, cognac, marsala, mezcal, oloroso, pedro and tequila. Bourbon kind of won, but that was to be expected. Some others have been excellent too, but we still believe that Scotch malt whisky can do just fine without being excessively powdered and made-up, which wasn't quite the case today, anyway. Soon a similar sesssion with Arrans.

(Gracias Edouard, KC, Tony and many other friends)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Kilchoman we've tasted so far







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