...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Kilchoman 2007 Vintage (my bottle)

(Kilchoman cluster homepage)

Kilchoman began their "Vintage" series in 2011 with the 2006 Vintage (all of five years old), and have been releasing the next vintage every other year, each one also a little older than the next. For instance, the 2007 Vintage appeared in 2013 and had a 6 year age statement, and 2019 saw the 9 year old 2010 Vintage. These tend to be bourbon cask-only batches — though the 2010 had <10% sherry casks — so it's a nice way to experience the progression of the distillery's single malt, something akin to Kilkerran's Work In Progress series.

I first tried the 2007 Vintage at an official Kilchoman event seven looooooooong years ago. It was matched up with five other Kilchomans, three of which were pricier single casks. According to my handwritten notes, it won the night by some distance. I even wondered if it was the best Kilchoman I'd had yet.

Irrational exuberance followed, as it does.

Not only did I buy a bottle, but I started obsessing over every subsequent vintage release. Should I buy it, should I not buy it? This actually continued right up through 2019. But I didn't buy any other vintage. Nor did I even bother to open my bottle.

Now I have. And now I will review the 2007 Vintage.

Region: Islay
Age: Six years (2007- 2013)
Maturation: "fresh and refill bourbon barrels"
Barley: 50ppm, sourced from Port Ellen maltings
Outturn: 10,000 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfilltered? No
Colorant added? No
(from the top third of my bottle)

A swirl of cigarette and Black & Mild cigarillo smokes fill the nose's foreground. Anise, halvah and soil linger in the background. It gradually develops a gummy worm sugariness and a hint of copper. It gets a little darker when reduced to 40%abv, with more industrial metallic smoke, dirty hay, old Parmesan rind. More on gumdrops than gummy worms in the background.

The palate begins with a mix of sea salt, tart limes, gentle earthy bitterness and a sort of coastal smoke. Not much sweetness. Though the bitterness grows, it never overwhelms. The smoke gradually gets ashier. The palate's texture is curiously thin, as if the whisky was chillfiltered. Simple sweet smoke and brine take over once the whisky is diluted to 40%abv, with some hints of almond and cashew butter in the background. Again the smoke gets ashier with time.

The long but simple finish holds bitter smoke and charred burgers. A little bit of tart citrus offers some brightness. At 40%abv, the finish is lightly sweet, ashy and briny.

Seven years later, I have a soberer (though not for lack of trying!) take on the 2007 Vintage. This is a good whisky. Period. It's not the best Kilchoman I've ever tried, nor will it land in the top five of this very cluster. It's softer and rounder than any of last week's Machir Bays. It also stands up to dilution better than any of this cluster's previous seven Kilchomans.

As I've found with most young whiskies, this one's excitement descends with each aspect. The nose establishes a sturdy style different than most other Islay single malts, while also being a bit dirtier than the Machir Bays. The palate begins well, though I wish its eventual ashiness was quieter. It finishes in a satisfactory fashion, no more, no less.

Mark it. This is the ninth Kilchoman, but the first to make me contemplate, "How great would this be in __ more years?" And now there's two-thirds of a bottle left for me to ponder over.

Availability - Probably sold out
Pricing - $70-$80 back in the day
Rating - 85