It’s our first time reviewing a Kilchoman on this humble blog. To be honest, up until now whisky coming from Kilchoman was not to my taste, I always found some off-notes (for my palate), something that didn’t suit me. But I’m always trying to stay open-minded, and so when I found a sample of Kilchoman in my whisky and spirits advent calendar, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give another go at this distillery. So let’s introduce them, and review a Kilchoman 2007, bottled for as the Kilchoman Club 6th Edition.
Kilchoman Distillery is located on the west coast of Islay, Scotland. With a rich history dating back to the 1300s, Kilchoman has a unique connection to the origins of distillation in Scotland. It is said that the MacBeatha/Beaton family, who were doctors and translated medical texts about distillation from Latin into Gaelic, may have been the first to produce distillates in Kilchoman parish.
However, it was not until 2005 that the Wills family established Kilchoman as a farm distillery at Rockside Farm, bringing farm distilling back to Islay. In 2006, a fire in the kiln temporarily halted production, but the distillery quickly recovered and in 2009 released its first single malt, a 3-year-old.
In 2010, John MacLellan joined the team as distillery manager and in 2011, Kilchoman launched its 100% Islay single malt, using ingredients sourced entirely from the island. 2012 saw the release of the distillery’s first core release, Machir Bay.
Since its inception, Kilchoman has undergone several expansions, including the addition of two new washbacks in 2007 and a new malting floor and kiln in 2017. In 2019, the distillery doubled its production capacity with the construction of a new still house containing two more stills, a new mash tun, and six new washbacks. This has brought Kilchoman’s production capacity close to 0.5 million litres of pure alcohol per year, allowing for experimental runs using different yeast and barley varieties.
Kilchoman 2007 – The Kilchoman Club 6th Edition Review
This Kilchoman has been bottled by the distillery itself as the 6th Edition of their special members-only release for the Kilchoman Club, their free-to-join community of whisky enthusiasts. The whisky was distilled on November 1, 2007, and was bottled on November 20, 2017, making it a 10-year-old whisky. It was aged in bourbon casks, specifically cask numbers 383–385, 387, and 388. It has a strength of 57.4% ABV and is non-chill filtered and natural colour. A total of 1241 bottles were produced. At the time of writing, there’s one bottle left at Abbey Whisky in Scotland for £163, or you’ll have to rely on the secondary market. Just remember it was sold originally for £99…
Neat: On the nose, this Kilchoman presents strong peat and cold smoke aromas, reminiscent of an ashtray. There are also maritime notes of sea spray and crushed shells.
With water: When water is added, the whisky takes on a chlorine and embrocation scent, as well as fresh grass and a hint of vanilla and citrus. There are also light farm notes present. Overall, the peat and smoke dominate the nose, with the other aromas being somewhat hidden.
Neat: The arrival is peaty, with a small alcohol bite and a thick, oily mouthfeel. There are also flavours of mechanical grease, dark chocolate, wood char, spent coffee grains, black tea leaves, vanilla, honey, and spicy apricots. There is also a hint of chili pepper.
With water: Reduction brings soft oak notes as well as porridge and soot.
The finish is long and very smoky, as well as sweet and spicy, and with intense ash notes.
Overall, the peat and smoke dominate the nose, with the other aromas being somewhat hidden. The palate and the nose lack fruitiness in my humble opinion, but no off-note this time, which is quite good. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too mono dimensional for me to pretend to a higher rating. Yet, it’s still a good whisky.