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Friday, March 5, 2021

Kilchoman 2010 Vintage

(Kilchoman cluster homepage)

Though some of the Machir Bays soared, I'm feeling more optimistic about these Vintage releases overall. The 2007 was good, though not as grand as I'd hoped. The 2008 was probably about as great as a 46%abv 7 year old whisky can be. Now I'm leaping up to the most recent Vintage (though a 2011 may be coming out this year), the 9 year old 2010. As of the moment these words are typed, this is the oldest Kilchoman I've ever tried. Of course that record will be topped soon......oops, I probably should've thrown a spoiler alert in there.

Region: Islay
Age: Nine years (2010 - 2019)
Maturation30 bourbon barrels and 3 Oloroso Sherry butts
Barley: 50ppm, sourced from Port Ellen maltings
Outturn: 15,000 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 48%
Chillfilltered? No
Colorant added? No
(from a purchased sample)

The nose begins with a lovely note of a recently snuffed candle, with clove and brown sugar in the background. Pine and charred veg appears next, followed by pineapple and fruity cinnamon. A hint of manure in the background. It's mostly peated pineapple juice once the whisky is reduced to 40%abv, with hints of cinnamon and grass in the back.

The palate's salt is nearly excessive until it mixes with a vegetal note creating something like a veggie broth. Serrano pepper above, cardamom and flower blossoms underneath. The smoke gets sharper, bitterer and more metallic with time. That bitter, metallic smoke makes up most of the diluted 40%abv palate. It gets grassier and more floral, while losing the salt.

Smoky residue and cassia lead the finish, followed by black pepper and ocean water. Once it gets diluted to 40%abv, the finish gets very ashy, bitter and grassy.

Like all of this cluster's Machir Bays, this whisky's palate does not take water well. Thus it's not just a 5yo whisky issue. Though it's preferable at the 48%abv bottling strength (two points higher than its predecessors), this whisky struggled next to the 7yo 2008. It has a cracking start with an engaging nose, but the palate feels stunted and doesn't air out well. Its lack of oak is novel in today's Islay market, but the mouth and finish needed something more, a couple bolder casks or maybe more time. Perhaps that was the role of the three sherry butts, but they've disappeared within.

Next week: Kilchomans that are 100% not from Port Ellen barley. But for now...

Availability - Available on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific, though mostly in Europe
Pricing - $90-$110
Rating - 84 (with the nose keeping it aloft)