...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Single Malt Report: Kilchoman 5 year old 2008 cask #74 (K&L exclusive)

Well, I've written plenty of stuff about Kilchoman this week already.  There was the Loch Gorm on Monday, Sanaig on Tuesday, and a murder of whiskies yesterday.  So I'll keep the intro short.  Today, I'm reviewing of one of their single casks.

Cask 74 from 2008 is being sold exclusively through K&L Wines.  It was originally priced at $110.  It did not sell out after a year on the shelf so K&L chose to add it to their sale/clearance section (also known as Insider's Advantage), selling it for $83.  As mentioned yesterday, I enjoyed it when I tried a sample, but due to the price I wasn't so moved to buy a whole bottle on my own.  Luckily I was able to split one with Florin, My Annoying Opinions, and Chemistry of the Cocktail.  MAO and Jordan will be posting their reviews today as well.  I'll post links to them once I am conscious...

And here are their links:
-- MAO, a snippy man who has lost every breakdancing competition he's entered, posted his review here.
-- Jordan, who has won all of those dance-offs, but only because he owns the judges in Portland, posted his review here.

Region: Islay
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Exclusive to: K&L Wines
Age: five years (Feb. 22, 2008 - December 16, 2013)
Maturation: ex-bourbon barrel
Alcohol by Volume: 58.4%
Cask: 74/2008
Colored? No
Chillfiltered? No

Color - Bright amber

Nose - Starts with lemons, brown sugar, vanilla, and barley.  Baked potato, dried thyme, and dried oregano follow.  Then burnt plastic, saline, and vanilla-tinged smoke.  It's a little rooty, and has some Laphroaig-like medicinality (not a word!), which is balanced by a subtle nectarine note.  But it keeps returning to lemons or lemon creme.  After 15 minutes, here comes the cow poo.  And rainbow candy canes, of course.

Palate - The peated malt feels both green and floral, as opposed to smoky.  Lots of lime and fresh yellow stone fruit.  Vanilla bean, white sugar, anise, and a hint of something savoury.  It gets very candied at times.  Picks up some cinnamon candy and cracked pepper notes later on.

Finish - Smoke, salt, Underberg, and lemon gummi worms.  A brief whiff of cow.  Hint of cinnamon gum (Big Red).  It's quite sweet.

WITH WATER (~46%abv, from two tastings)
Nose - It gets leaner with the oak receding and the peat moving forward.  Some pepper, oyster-y salt, and confectioner's sugar.  Burnt hay, anise, and new carpet.  Hint of cinnamon.

Palate - The sweets are still there but it's a little farmier and bitterer.  Sweet basil, mint, and anise.  Tart citrus and lollipops.  More mossy than smoky.  Still pretty rich; more vibrant than Loch Gorm and Sanaig.

Finish - Shorter, but not short, if you follow.  Here the smoke comes totally to the fore.  In the background are smaller notes of sugar, bitterness, farm, and a peppery zip.

As noted, I tried this with water twice.  First when comparing it to Loch Gorm and Sanaig, then again on its own.  Happily my notes were nearly the same.  One thing I realized immediately was that when reduced to around 46%abv, this single cask is more enjoyable than Loch Gorm 2014 and Sanaig, from nose to palate to finish.  And when tried neatly, it's even better.

I found less cinnamon and less oak than David Driscoll notes on K&L's site.  But I'll agree with him that it is very good whisky.  I don't think it's "more flavorful, satisfying, and exciting than anything I've tasted from any Islay distillery over the past year" since, just off the top of my head, I know that I liked K&L's own 2001 Signatory Bowmore, the newer Laphroaig 18yo, and a couple of Kilchoman's single sherry casks better.  BUT I like this cask, and at the ripe old age of 5 years 10 months it might be the oldest Kilchoman single cask I've had so far.

At its current closeout price of $83, it's about a cheap as a Kilchoman single cask bottling gets nowadays.  If you think $83 is cheap for a 5 year old whisky, that's sorta up to you.  But I'm really happy I had a chance to split this with some good fellows.  I hope they liked it too... (Update: I liked it the most, so I guess I win.)

Availability - K&L Wines only
Pricing - $82.99 if you're signed up for their Insider's Advantage
Rating - 88