Kilchoman Small Batch No. 2 (The Netherlands)
While Kilchoman produces quality single malt whisky, I’ve never been particularly swayed by them. Admittedly, young peated whisky has to be extremely exceptional to really impress me. It’s not until heavily peated whisky reaches a respectable age that it really begins to shine, I believe. Then again, once you get to 20+ or even 30+ years of maturation, it’s not exactly heavily peated spirit anymore, is it?
So Kilchoman is at a disadvantage because they’ve only been around since 2005 and generally release whisky from their younger stocks. That is the case at least for the latest Kilchoman Small Batch for the Netherlands (Edition No. 2, to be precise). The exact age is unknown, but I guesstimate it to be around 6/7 years old. Roughly 70% of the spirit matured in ex-bourbon casks, followed by 5% from an Oloroso cask and the remaining 25% spent its time in a former Madeira hogshead.
Kilchoman Small Batch No. 2 (49.4%, OB for The Netherlands, 1260 bts.)
Nose: Dried seaweed and salty pebbles are intertwined with a dark smokiness. But this has much more to offer in the realm of fruitiness. There’s some clementines, a touch of peach skin and ripe banana as well. Finally a touch of crème brûlée.
Taste: A spicy arrival with white pepper and nutmeg. It has an earthy peatiness, complemented by an almost candy-esque sweetness. Also touches of roasted peanuts and a dry maltiness. Finally some oak polish and soft note of iodine.
Finish: A tinge dry with some soft sweet notes and a lingering smokiness. It has a slight lactic quality as well.
Young heavily peated whiskies have a high floor and a low ceiling — to me at least. This is another example. Peat usually hides immaturity or other defects. This Kilchoman is good overall but lacks the depth and complexity that usually only lengthy maturation brings.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.