A New Islay Distillery
According to their website, Kilchoman is the first distillery built in Islay in over 124 years. It is also a farm distillery founded by Anthony Wills in 2005. Thankfully its not a new “bottler” claiming to be a distillery presenting someone else’s scotch in new bottles. Recently, I had a chance to sample two of their offerings during a whiskey tasting at the Spartan Cigar and Pipe lounge in Elkton Maryland. Review of the lounge to follow soon.
There are four main versions of their scotches with a fifth (Cask Strength) in very limited release. I sampled Machir Bay and Sanaig at the tasting. The others are Loch Gorm and another called 100% Islay (which begs the question, “What’s in the others?”). It looks like this product consists of whiskey produced 100% from the farm; from barley to bottling.
A noticeable omission from the bottles? Age. A distillery which opened in 2005 cannot produce 16-year-old whiskey! Do not fret, my friends. This is another good example of the latest crop of non-aged offerings.
Both of the Kilchoman scotches I sampled wee aged in both sherry and bourbon barrels. The difference is the time spent in each. I started off with the Sanaig and I’m glad I did.
Sanaig spent most of its aging in sherry casks (Oloroso barrels). Oloroso casks impart dark flavor to whiskeys that are aged in them. This characteristic was spot on for me. I got dried cherry, with nice smoke, vanilla and lingering sweetness. I’m not a scotch snob so do your own research on the nose. It was a cigar and whiskey tasting for God’s sake! This scotch won an award in 2016 for non-aged Single Malt Scotch. Just sayin’.
Machir Bay, the 2017 Whiskey Exchange Whiskey of the Year is the more aggressive of the two. It spent most of its time in bourbon barrels before time in sherry casks. The citrus is there but it is more peaty with darker fruit flavor than the Sainag.
There was absolutely no indication in the taste or finish that provided a clue to how young these scotches are. Sainag may be as young as 3 years old according to a site I checked. My only concern? You guessed it. Price.
These scotches are really good. Not $70 dollars good for scotch so young.
If you ever find yourself at an event where this is on the list of complimentary offerings, enjoy to your heart’s content. Go to find a bar that serves this for some fine samples. I’m waiting until the 2020’s when Kilchoman will have 10 and 12-year-old versions. They will probably be mind blowing!