I was recently mock-praised for reviewing something released as recently as a year ago. As even mock-praise makes me uncomfortable, I have in response a review of a whisky released five years ago: a sherry cask Kilchoman bottled for K&L in California.
Kilchoman was not quite new at the time but they weren’t quite as established and didn’t have as much of an identity as they do now. But they were already producing whisky that belied its (young) age. I think the very first Kilchoman I had was a 3 yo bottled for Binny’s in 2010 (I don’t think I reviewed it, but I do have a large reference sample saved…) and it was way better than any 3 yo whisky has any right to be. Most of the ones that I have reviewed have been just a bit older (including another K&L cask, this one ex-bourbon, and a PX cask bottled for WIN in the Netherlands). I’ve generally liked them all. And I can tell you before you get to the review that I liked this one—which was probably distilled at around the same time as that Binny’s ex-bourbon cask a lot. A more detailed accounting follows.
Kilchoman 2006-2012 (59.4%; sherry cask #371/06 for K&L; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Leafy smoke with raisiny sweetness and quite a bit of iodine and some lemon below all of that. With more time there’s some coffee grounds and some cream but also an expanding organic/rotting note. With water the organic notes are mostly gone, replaced by more lemon and citronella and mothballs.
Palate: Sweeter here with pipe tobacco rather than wet or rotting leaves and with dry smoke in place of the iodine. With more time it gets more medicinal and it also gets more cereally. More lemon here too with water (and rather like teenaged Caol Ila now). The sherry influence is more muted now.
Finish: Medium-Long. Nothing new here, the smoke slowly eases out. As on the palate with water and the finish is much longer now.
Comments: This is as good as young peated whisky gets (which is to say it still isn’t very complex). And it makes me wish I’d done an in-depth tour at Kilchoman when I visited earlier this year so I could ask them how they do it when so many others can’t.
Rating: 88 points.
Thanks to Gimmeadram for the sample!