As I don’t regularly include heavily peated single malts in my whisky diet, I’ve never really developed a taste for Kilchoman. I love slightly older peated whiskies from Caol Ila or Lagavulin where the impact of the phenols has lessened considerably. But since Kilchoman mainly releases young stuff (they’ve only been around since 2005 after all), they haven’t quite been able to capture my imagination. Also, it doesn’t help there are no emotional connections or memories to speak of; Kilchoman is one of the few Islay distilleries I’ve not visited.
And yet, when I tried their Christmas (or festive) release in December, I was very much taken by it. Sure, I’ve never given a low score to a whisky from Kilchoman. They objectively make quality single malt whisky with a high floor. However, I wasn’t quite convinced of this distillery’s ceiling. Which actually makes sense, because while there’s proper good young whisky available, there’s limits to how good it can be.
Enter the latest exclusive release for The Whisky Exchange, a 13-year-old Kilchoman matured in a bourbon cask. This will be by far the oldest Kilchoman I’ve tasted so far. And while it is true up to a point that age doesn’t matter, it sure does raise the potential for greatness. So, maybe not surprisingly you’re about to read the tasting notes for the best Kilchoman I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking.
Kilchoman 2007 13 Years (53.9%, OB ‘TWE Exclusive’, C#197)
Nose: Notes of icing sugar at first. Somewhat farmy with smoked barley husks and dried grass, as well as baked apples and a whisper of iodine, followed by some slightly scorched lemon peel and vanilla. It has a nice mineral touch too.
Taste: A very thick mouthfeel with a gentle arrival that focuses on tar, smoke and a touch of rubber without ever turning into a peat monster. Notes of vanilla sugar, peach syrup and orchard fruits as well. Finally a touch of chocolate and salt.
Finish: Lovely salinity that lingers for a long time, as well as mint and pine juice.
There’s a maturity that I’m not quite used to from Kilchoman, mainly because most that I’ve tasted have been (significantly) younger. The mouthfeel puts it over the top. Available from The Whisky Exchange.
Photo and sample by The Whisky Exchange