Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Review - Kilchoman Loch Gorm (2018 Edition)

Loch Gorm is and annual release from the small family-owned Islay distillery of Kilchoman. It is the only global release of Kilchoman to be matured entirely in ex-sherry casks and was first released in 2012. Loch Gorm is the name of the nearest loch to the distillery. The 2018 Edition combines nineteen ex-Oloroso sherry butts which were filled in 2007, 2008 and 2011. This includes some of the oldest sherry matured stock that has been released to date and these butts have yielded 15,000 bottles. The price is £69 per bottle.

Kilchoman is one of Scotland's smallest whisky distilleries and is named after the local church parish. The first spirit was only produced in June 2005 and the first single malt was released in November 2009. Kilchoman is independently owned and has a production capacity of just over 100,000 litres a year, although this is increasing annually.

Kilchoman is also one of only seven distilleries to do some traditional floor malting, which takes place in a new building that was completed earlier this year. The distillery has built up a healthy following of whisky drinkers and attracts over 10,000 people a year to its visitor centre, despite being in a remote location.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep gold and the initial aromas are of oatmeal cookies and green apples. Then come further aromas of delicate earthy peat smoke, caramel and honeycomb. These are complimented by more subtle notes of sultana, marzipan and orange zest.

On the palate this whisky has a surprising and immediate softness. There is a lovely initial sweetness which is most reminiscent of a combination of caramel and toffee with sultanas and raisins. Then comes the earthy peat smoke, which seems more robust and influential than on the nose, and the biscuity cookie-like notes. There is a dusty quality to the smoke, like powdered spices and dry soil. Underneath are further notes of honeycomb, crisp green apples and peardrop sweets with late hints of milk chocolate, white pepper, candied orange and a pinch of toasted almond.

The finish is long with the smoke and peat lasting longest. The sweetness and rich dried fruit notes slowly fade to reveal a pleasant and warming peppery spiciness. Then comes the earthy smoke and the savoury biscuit-like characteristic evident on the nose and palate.

What's the verdict?
The 2018 version of Loch Gorm is a triumph for Kilchoman. It shows how the spirit is developing with increased time in the cask. This contains some of Kilchoman's oldest examples of ex-sherry cask matured whisky and the result shows much of the expected potential shown in previous releases.

The combinations of peat smoke, sweetness and distinct dried fruitiness are wonderful and it is presented at a decent price also. This makes it a single malt that is well worth searching out and marks a turning point for Kilchoman. Splendid stuff.