I missed Kilchoman on my mini tour of Islay in December and so here now is a review of a Kilchoman. (I also missed Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich and will be stopping in at both of those distilleries this week as well.) I was a big fan of Kilchoman’s early releases of very young bourbon casks but have somehow lost track of them in the last five years or so. I’d hoped they’d graduate to putting out a regular 10-12 yo and it doesn’t seem like that’s happened yet. Their website only lists four NAS releases in their core lineup (of which I’ve reviewed releases of the Machir Bay and 100% Islay) and several annual limited editions. This was one of their limited editions for 2020, vatted from spirit fully matured in 11 fresh and one refill fino sherry butt. Let’s see what it’s like.
Kilchoman Fino Sherry Matured, 2020 Release (46%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Big peat off the top, an odd mix of carbolic and farmy notes. There’s some sweet cereal and malt in there as well and then expanding salt and iodine. With more time the dirtier notes subside and some preserved lemon pops out in their place. Sweeter and meatier with water.
Palate: Comes in with sharper smoke here and little of the farmyard. The texture is a bit too thin and that is accentuated by the acidic bite that comes through as I swallow. The smoke intensifies on the second sip and there’s a meatiness and char to it now but also some hints of youth (mezcal). Gets sweeter as it goes. Okay, let’s add water. Not too much change at first but then the drier notes emerge again and merge nicely with the sweeter, charred and meaty notes.
Finish: Long. The smoke goes on for a long while and the salt expands to join it. Gets pretty dry at the very end. With time the char shows up later in the finish. As on the palate with water.
Comments: The dry fino notes go well with the Kilchoman spirit but the youth of that underlying spirit does come through. Still it’s pretty good as young peated whisky goes. Hmmm I see I never reviewed my first-ever Kilchoman: their single cask for Binny’s. I should check to see if I saved a reference sample from that bottle.
Rating: 86 points.