...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Single Malt Report: Kilchoman 10th Anniversary Release

Happy Christmas, to those of you who do the Christmas!  May you wear your Aunt Clara's bunny suit well.
Yet another ritual stolen from the pagans.
2015 marked the 10th anniversary of Kilchoman Distillery's opening.  Since they didn't actually start distilling until December, their actual 10th birthday is right about now.  In honor of their continuing existence, they released this whisky.

When I read the announcement about this release I, like a number of their fans, got excited that they were putting out a 10 year old whisky!  But it's not a 10 year old whisky.  Nope.  Even though the number 10 is the boldest number on the label, even though 2005-2015 is clearly listed on the label, it's actually a 3 year old whisky.  Or, as per the label, it's a whisky without an official age statement.

Though it "includes whisky from Cask Number 01/2005, the first cask ever filled at Kilchoman", it contains whisky from casks filled between 2005 and 2012.  Thus it's legally three years old......but also selling for $160+.  Though the idea behind this whisky is very cool, the label misleads.  With great regret, I call shenanigans.

Ignoring the preceding editorial, how's the whisky?  I'm very thankful to have gotten a sample of it from my whisky buddy, Brett, who also supplied the Port Cask and Madeira Cask samples.  Thanks, Brett!

Brand: Kilchoman
Region: Islay
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Maturation: a combo of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks
Age: technically three years, with casks from 2005 to 2012
Alcohol by Volume: 58.2%
Limited Bottling: 3,000
Colored? No
Chillfiltered? No

Its color shines as a bright yellow gold.

The nose leads off with peated orange blossoms, mint chip ice cream, and rope.  Apricots and dried berries roll in from the various casks.  A nice farmy hint wafts in after a few minutes.

A hardy peat sings the loudest in the palate, one can almost feel both the mossy fibers and smoke.  Mixed nuts in earthy molasses.  Lime candy and black pepper.  Light bitterness, light sweetness.  A chest-filling warmth.  With time it picks up notes of mint jelly and grape jam.

The simple but moderate length finish is peppery and lightly sweet.  Some smoke, salt, and tangy citrus.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The farmy note moves forward in the nose, followed by moderate notes of peat, mint leaves, tree bark, menthol, prunes, and brandied cherries.

The palate develops a bracing bitterness to go with a brown sugary peat.  Small notes of menthol, cayenne pepper, and tobacco float about.

The finish holds cinnamon, pepper, menthol, and black coffee with a little bit of sugar.

The nose is excellent, lovely and full, maybe the most balanced Kilchoman I've ever sniffed.  The palate can't compete, but proves very agreeable in its simplicity.  The whisky swims pretty well, with the nose winning out again.  Price and label gripes aside, this is a well built whisky.  It doesn't necessarily feel older than most Kilchomans, it's just good whisky.  But about that price though, damn.  It keeps me from ever chasing down a bottle.

Availability - Scarce in US and Europe
Pricing - $150-$190, it may be cheaper at the distillery if it's still available
Rating - 88


  1. It's very surprising that the numbers on the label are so misleading, since accurate representation of age statements is one of the two things that Scotch legislation really cares about (the other one being the region of origin). Kilchoman is on the wrong side of the law here - good call on your part!

    Scotch Whisky Regulation 12 (3) states: "(3) A person must not label, package, sell, advertise or promote any Scotch Whisky in a way that includes a reference to any number (however expressed) if the reference to that number may create a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public as to whether the number relates to the maturation period of the whisky, its age or when it was distilled."

    1. Ah ha. Good citing! The '2005-2015' is very very misleading or "confusing". I can't believe they got away with it. So basically, Compass Box gets shamed by the SWA for disclosing ingredients to consumers on their web page, while Kilchoman gets a free pass for confusing consumers on the whisky's actual label. That makes a whole lot of sense.

    2. Not to mention the huge 10 on the box - which is part of the package in the sense of the law -, and on the background of the label. What the what, guys, are we going the way of the rum now? The Compass Box example is very relevant, some anonymous person should complain to the SWA.

      Say what you want about the SWA and their literally dictating whisky law, but I don't think anyone can fault the age statement rules. If anything, you'd want some of those rules to be more stringent or well-defined with things such as single casks, declaring or banning caramel coloring, and so on.

    3. Agreed, 100%. I wonder how this whisky slipped though. At this point one expects flubs from the US's TTB, but the SWA is draconian and thorough. I may contact them, non-anonymously just to find out what the justification was for letting it go.