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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Single Malt Report: Kilchoman Loch Gorm, 1st Edition (2013)

Loch Gorm first hit the shelves in 2013 to great anticipation and sold out very quickly (in the LA area at least).  Kilchoman's single sherry casks had been beloved by thousands of whisky drinkers/hoarders to such an extent that people were paying $100+ for these 4 year old bottlings.  So when Loch Gorm arrived at 6 years of age and around $80, one can understand the excitement.

Luckily for me, one of my good whisky buddies, Tetris, scooped up a bottle in time.  He opened it this year and saved me a sample!

Since then the excitement around Loch Gorm has quieted down.  It's now a 5 year old whisky and its price often pushes $100.  But it's still the cheapest way to buy a fully sherried Kilchoman, with the single sherry casks now priced above $130.  I reviewed the 2014 Loch Gorm and found it sulphury, farmy, young, and crazy; definitely enjoyable, but not worth the money, and not yet up to the standards of other sherried Islays.

But now here's the original, distilled in 2007, released in 2013.  Was it worth the hype?

Brand: Kilchoman
Region: Islay
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Maturation: Oloroso Sherry Butts, then a two week finish in hogsheads
Age: 6(-ish?) years - 2007-2013
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Limited Bottling: 10,000
Colored? No
Chillfiltered? No

Its color is quite dark for such a young whisky.  Darker than the 2014 edition.

The nose is very leathery.  New sneaker rubber peat and tennis balls.  Riding steadily beneath that is gingerbread and mixed berry preserves.  After 20+ minutes, a nice gianduja gelato note appears.

Peat cinders and cayenne pepper lead off the palate.  Something about Kilchoman's sherry casks frames the peat so that it seems larger than that of the bourbon casks.  A soft cherry fruitiness starts around the edges, then gradually becomes more berried and spreads out.

Loads of smoke in the finish.  Smaller notes of saltines and lemon zest.  It grows more peppery, less sweet with time.  A very good length on it.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose quiets down, closing up rather than opening with water.  Some brighter peat, more floral. Creme de menthe and plastic toys.

The palate gets really herbal and grassy.  Lotsa peat again.  A little bitterness forms.  Dry sherry in the background.  A total absence of sweetness.

The finish is more austere.  Just peat and bitter herbs.

...a richer and slightly more complex whisky than the 2nd (2014) edition.  It's also becomes a different whisky when water is added, and perhaps more appealing to those who like more austere whiskies.  There's plenty of big peatin' existing right alongside plenty of fruit in the neat version, then tight herbal dry smoke when hydrated.  Loch Gorm #1 won't romance you like Lagavulin DE nor knock you on your ass like Ardbeg Uigeadail, but I'd recommend it over the similarly priced (at the time) Bowmore Darkest.

So yes, I think this one's better than the 2nd edition.  Is it due to its one additional year of aging?  Or better casks?  I'd bet the latter over the former.  If anyone has had the 3rd (2015) edition, let us know in the comments what you thought of it.

Availability - editions 2 & 3 can still be found at specialty retailers in the US, but you might have to go to the secondary market to find the first edition
Pricing - was $80, is probably north of $100
Rating - 87