Tasting: Kilchoman 100% Islay 5th edition / 2015

Kilchoman 100% Islay 5th edition / 2015Dram data:
Distillery: Kilchoman
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: 10.2009
Bottled: 06.05.2015
Age: 5 yo
Limitation: 10.000 bottles
Cask: ex-bourbon
Alcohol: 50%
unchillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
A whisky made from 100% Islay ingredients. Barley grown on Islay, malted in Kilchoman’s own floor maltings, dried over Islay peat, distilled, matured and bottled on site. Well, bottle, cork and cardboard box are not from Islay, but everything else is. Let’s stick our nose in!
The nose opens with a whiff of alcohol, but you can already taste barley sweetness and (comparatively) light peat notes underneath. Let it breath for a minute or two. Now we get the gentle side of the peaty Islay drams. Sweet wort going into the fermenters with a splash of lemon on top, ginger, tangerine peel and canned tangerines, physalis, unobtrusive vanilla, a hint of honey, Werther’s Original sweets, a mineral, chalky note, and, of course, light peat. Nowhere near as loud as the south coast Islay drams or the Kilchoman whisky made from commercial peat, but still rather noticeable, it’s definitely an Islay dram. It seems to be a sweeter style of peat too, if such a thing even exists. Yum, this is exquisite! Young, but already very, very good! The palate doesn’t disappoint either! A good measure of alcohol on the arrival. I could dilute this with a splash of water but I like it the way it is. Mouth-coating and creamy, but a tad on the dry side. Again, sweet wort, a touch of honey, tangerine peel and tinned tangerines, physalis, slight vanilla, a hint of beeswax and propolis (where did those come from?), coffee, a piece of toffee, a chalky mineral note (which I like!) and, of course, peat. Slightly sweet, very fragrant peat – with a hint of iodine too, which I didn’t get on the nose. Again, this is just how I want a young, feisty, yet also elegant pure ex-bourbon Islay dram to be. It has a certain finesse and a light citrus style the south coast distilleries don’t offer. The long finish is slightly alcoholic yet also mellow and rounded upon swallowing, slightly sweet (but not overly so) – a malty sweetness, again, with peat appearing right thereafter, followed by a slight chalky note. And then there’s that hint of beeswax again…

I really, really love this style of Kilchoman. It truly shows the essence of the distillery character paired with a gentle (ok, gentler) peat note, unadulterated by other aromas like wine maturations or finishes. Yes, it is still young and kicking, matured for just a few years, but so what? A very good distillate matured in excellent, not overpowering casks (exclusively ex-bourbon) can be a truly fantastic thing, as this whisky exhibits. My favourite style of Kilchoman, and also my favourite style of Islay whisky. Which reminds me, I still need to buy the 6th edition…

Score: 90/100
(Nose: 90 Palate: 90 Finish: 88)

I opened this bottle to commemorate the late John MacLellan, Kilchoman distillery manager, upon learning of his passing earlier this year and would like to dedicate this review to his memory.

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2 Replies to “Tasting: Kilchoman 100% Islay 5th edition / 2015”

  1. Good Review Klaus. I was kind of disappointed in the Kilchoman I got for myself a while back, but I may have to change my mind when I get this bottle. Will add it to my wish list since I do like a bourbo matured fruity malty whisky too.

    Good of you to dedicate this blog. Very respectful

    1. Cheers, Rombout, which one did you try? I think Kilchoman works best in bourbon (in general). the one I was most disappointed in so far was their 10th anniversary bottling of all things…

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