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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Single Malt Report: Kilchoman Sanaig

I'm still trying to figure out what's up Sanaig, the new member of Kilchoman's range.  It's half ex-bourbon, half ex-sherry, so it seems to sit perfectly between Machir Bay and Loch Gorm.  Seems like a smart safe design move.  But it has only been released in Continental Europe.  It's not a one-off experiment turd-dumpling duty free thing.  Nor has the distillery announced that it was a limited bottling.  Nor is it listed on their website.  The price, around €50, is reasonable as far as Kilchoman goes.  So I guess I'm wondering, when is it coming to the US?  We Yanks have hungrily consumed everything else the young distillery has sent across the Atlantic, why not this one?  Why can't we have it?!?!?!?!?

And should we really even give a crap?  Let's find out...

I dig the purple label!
Sample courtesy of OC Scotch Club.
Brand: Kilchoman
Region: Islay
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Maturation: 50% ex-Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels / 50% ex-oloroso sherry casks
Age: 4-5 years old
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Colored? No
Chillfiltered? No

NOTE: I tried this alongside the Loch Gorm (a fully sherried Kilchoman) and an all ex-bourbon barrel Kilchoman.

Color - Medium gold, curiously darker than the 2014 Loch Gorm.

Nose - Lots of newmake-y herbs, grass, and cinnamon red hots.  Lemon candy, peppermint patty centers, leather, and dirty-ish peat.  I also for some reason wrote, forebodingly: "Burnt planet".  The nose doesn't change much with air.  It may pick up some generic wood smoke, yeast, and more sugars.

Palate - Wow, a lot of tequila and mezcal.  Hot cereal (like cream of wheat) with mesquite smoke.  Yeast.  Black and red ground pepper.  With time it gets sweeter.  Some orange notes arise.  And finally after almost thirty minutes some sherry peeks out.

Finish - Lots of dirty peat.  Some sherry-ish dried fruits.  It's long, sharp, and bitter, though it softens with time.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
Color - Farmier and yeastier.  Dark chocolate.  The cinnamon note becomes almost floral.

Palate - Aggressively peppery and salty.  More peat, more sherry.  Hints of white tequila and rye distillate.

Finish - Tennis ball can, black peppercorns, and hay.

Man, I think Kilchoman's new make feels longer matured than this.  The sherry also doesn't register much until the finish, though it does get louder when water is added.  One wonders if there were refill casks in the mix.

While Sanaig, priced at Machir Bay's level, is a good way to experience near-nude Kilchoman, I'm not sure we US Americans are missing a whole lot by not having it here.  Ruben at whiskynotes does like this a little more than I, though he doesn't seem to find much sherry influence either.  And one Reddit person loves the hell out of it, but his notes are so much different than mine that it appears as if we had different whiskies.  Meanwhile, my score would be the second lowest for Sanaig on whiskybase.

It appears as if I'm lowballing my favorite mini distillery this week.  Will it continue...?

Availability - Continental Europe only
Pricing - around $55-$70
Rating - 82