...where distraction is the main attraction.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Some final thoughts on the Longrow and Kilchoman reviews

After writing about 16 different Kilchomans this year, I'm suffering from Kilchoman fatigue.  You may be too, after my five posts this week, so I promise this will be the last post about Kilchoman for a long while.

1.  Kilchoman and Longrow are both in my Top Ten Favorite Single Malts list, with the latter being in my top five.  I chose to do these two packed weeks of reviews to end the year thinking that I'd be hootin' and hollerin' with joy about these malts/brands, with there being at least a few super duper whiskies.  Instead, while there were a couple very good items, there were a larger number of not very good ones.  Two things became clear.  First, that these beloved brands were in fact fallible.  And secondly, not only are their cheapest basic single malts (Machir Bay and Peated) respectable, they're better than many of the brands' more premium products.

2.  Getting peat + wine to work well is very difficult, yet most peated whisky producers are doing it damn-the-result style and promptly bottling it in order to expand their product ranges.  In some cases the limited edition hype will clear out the bottles regardless of quality.  But I wonder, are these customers actually opening their bottles?  Or are they hoarding?  Or are they "investing" (aka flipping)?  And for those who are drinking their whiskies, are they so motivated to buy a second bottle or come back for the next edition?  Time will tell if these products can outlast their hype.

3.  Due to the prices of the Kilchoman and Longrow whiskies reviewed over the past weeks, I wouldn't buy a single one of these single malts.  Good-to-very-good young single malts (especially if they're not single casks) will not get me to part with $120 or more.  And I'm one of the fans!

4.  Single malt whisky prices have changed drastically.  The selection of quality whiskies for the lower working classes were abandoned 8-10 years ago.  And now the quality options for the middle classes are fading.  Thankfully, several good basic single malt "expressions" remain.  If we get priced out of those, then the industry (whose volume sales continue to struggle) is going to have to offer us more than NASes to keep our business.


  1. Enjoyed reading through your Kilchoman/Longrow journed....and you probably saved me a few dollars in the process! Not to spend too much time on the apparently useless criticism, because the industry doesn't seem to acknowledge the potential backlash, but the reliance on NAS to retain customers will fail if those prices also continue to be ridiculously high. Maybe a whisky-buying hiatus will create a second whisky loch that will drive prices back down to something more reasonable!

    1. Having seen many of my whisky friends, most of whom are otherwise intelligent and logical people, become entirely enslaved to their whisky purchasing addiction has been the most troubling thing I've seen in the well-financed anorak community. They admit their addiction and then wear it as a badge or a method of oneupmanship. This is what single malt producers count on. And they'll hustle as hard as they can to get people with money to buy expensive mystery meat. The industry will need to f*** up big time to break this, but they're doing a good job of f***ing it up so far.

    2. Even seasoned whisky enthusiasts have become lazy indeed. The fun for us from this point on will be in seeking out inexpensive-but-very-good-quality malts that we have either overlooked up to this point or hadn't even been aware of. For me, Talisker Distillers Edition and Compass Box Spice Tree make the list...

    3. Hey Will. I agree, Talisker DE and Spice Tree have always been reliable. One of the keys may be to search out the less famous distilleries. Four years ago I really enjoyed Tomintoul 16 ($55-$60), but I'm not willing to stake my reputation on it right now. :) I'll get a bottle this year and report back. I've seen recommendations for Glen Moray 10yo ($35-$40) Chardonnay Cask from My Annoying Opinions and Ralfy, two guys who usually aren't big fans of wine casks.