Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Review - Kilchoman 100% Islay 2017 Edition

This whisky is the seventh edition of the cult 100% Islay single malt from Kilchoman. It is the oldest version to date and has been bottled at seven years of age. The 100% Islay expression is special, and almost unique, as all parts of the whisky making process - the growing of the barley used, malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, maturation and bottling - are completed on the farm in the northwest corner of Islay where the distillery is located. The 2017 Edition was distilled in early 2010 and has been fully matured in ex-bourbon barrels from the Buffalo Trace distillery.

Kilchoman is one of Scotland's youngest and smallest whisky distilleries and is located on the famous whisky island of Islay. It is named after the local church parish and is new in whisky terms - the first spirit was produced in June 2005 and the first single malt was released in November 2009. Kilchoman is independently owned by the Kilchoman Distillery Company and has a production capacity of 100,000 litres a year. It has built up a healthy following of whisky drinkers and attracts over 10,000 people a year to its visitor centre.

"Since day one we have not only been proud of the tradition whisky making methods that we revived to create 100% Islay, but also the quality of the spirit produced. We are now growing more barley than ever for this release."
Anthony Wills - Founder and Managing Director of Kilchoman. 

The 100% Islay 2017 Edition has been bottled at 50% ABV and is non chill-filtered and of natural colour. No indication of numbers were included in the press releaseand it will be available through specialist whisky retailers worldwide. A bottle will cost £73.50.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a pale golden yellow and the nose has an immediate freshness and vibrancy to it. The initial aromas are of slightly acrid and mossy peat smoke that mingles with delicate honey and vanilla. Underneath are further aromas of malted barley, oatcakes and crisp green apple, plus hints of white peach and candyfloss.

On the palate the 100% Islay retains that freshness and vibrancy from the nose. The acrid and mossy peat smoke seems more prominent and has a mineralic edge to it that gives the whisky a slightly chalky and flinty feel. It reminded us a little of coal tar soap. This is supported by delicious notes of honey, golden syrup and vanilla. The combination of the sweetness and smokiness is very pleasing. Further characteristics begin to come through and add depth and complexity - think of warm oat biscuits, white chocolate and candied lemon. Background notes of stewed apple, cinnamon and white pepper round things off nicely.

The finish is long and warming with the smokiness particularly prominent. The sweeter elements begin to fade and this leaves the smoky characteristics to give a refreshing dryness. Late hints of cinnamon and ginger add further warmth.

What's the verdict?
This latest version of the 100% Islay is one of the oldest whiskies that Kilchoman have released to date. The quality of their spirit has always shone through in previous releases but now we are beginning to see the benefit of time. This whisky has more depth and complexity than other expressions of Kilchoman that we have sampled. It is great to see and will be interesting to see how it develops even further.

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