...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Kilchoman New Make Spirit, from Port Ellen Maltings

 (Kilchoman cluster homepage)

Let us begin with the naked stuff, or something close to it. Many many thank yous to LV33 who was able to obtain a sizable sample of the clear spirit from a very good source, then shared a bit with me. 

This is the heavily-peated version of their spirit, weighing in at 50ppm at time of malting. Sourced from Diageo's Port Ellen facility, the barley was malted using specs similar (or identical) to Ardbeg's. The vast majority of Kilchoman's malt still arrives in this manner, though an increasing quantity comes from their own malting floor (10-25ppm). Their new make's actual strength runs close to 70%abv, then they reduce it to 63.5%abv for cask filling.

Region: Islay
Age: 0
Maturation: No
Source: Port Ellen maltings
Peat level: 50ppm
Alcohol by Volume: 63.5%

At first the nose shows mesquite smoke and dried apricots. Then jasmine blossoms and baking chocolate. At the ten minute mark those two pairings merge, resulting in white peaches, rose blossoms and a chocolatey smoke. Hints of pine, cinnamon and cumin appear in the background later on.

The palate reminds me of the one super-aged sake (koshu!) I tried in Kyoto four years ago, with its balance of dried fruits and savoriness. And also sake. But its fierce mossy smoke is very much not sake. There's just a tiny bit of eau de vie in the background.

Brazil nuts, toasted seaweed and heavy smoke finish it off.

Per my written notes, "Goddamn I love newmake." I can't even speak constructively about it. This is a beautiful spirit. Not complex, just adorable. Most Scottish new makes trend towards eau de vie (very good) or mezcal (good), but this one tilts towards sake which appeals to my nose and palate. Kilchoman did release a few high strength "New Spirit" bottlings once upon a time, each of which was less than three years old. I can't promise they'll be as good as this. But if you can find a bit of their new make, drink it!

Rating - 87 (yes, a whisky rating for a new make)