Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Review / Kilchoman 100% Islay (2022 Edition)

This new whisky hails from the family-owned farm distillery of Kilchoman, which is on the famous whisky island of Islay. It is the 12th edition of their award-winning annual 100% Islay bottling, which uses barley grown on the family farm and local water from a nearby loch. This is then distilled, matured and bottled at the distillery. The new limited edition has been created from 35 casks - 29 ex-bourbon barrels and 6 ex-Oloroso sherry butts. The whiskies were all distilled in 2011, 2012 or 2013 and matured for a minimum of 8 years. Each cask was selected for the bottling by Kilchoman's founder Anthony Wills.

Kilchoman is one of Scotland's smaller single malt distilleries and is named after the local church parish. It is located on Rockside Farm on the remote west coast of the island of Islay. The first spirit was produced in June 2005 and the first single malt was released in November 2009. Kilchoman is independently owned and now has a production capacity of just over 350,000 litres a year, following a recent ambitious expansion of the facilities. It is one of the few distilleries in Scotland to grow some of their own barley and to have a traditional floor malting in operation.

The Kilchoman 100% Islay 2022 Edition is bottled at 50% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. There are 12,500 bottles in this year's batch and these will be available in specialist retailers in selected global markets. A bottle will cost £75.

Our tasting notes

The colour is golden yellow and the nose has initial earthy and ash-like aromas (imagine damp peat, moss and bonfire embers). Underneath are hints of green apple, vanilla and golden syrup. These sit alongside further aromas of malted biscuits, lemon zest and white chocolate, plus a pinch of cocoa powder and white pepper. 

On the palate this whisky has a sweeter edge than the nose initially suggests. The peat smoke is soft and gentle with notes of damp moss and charcoal ash. These are complimented by something floral and heather-like, plus elegant leafy soil. Green apple and a hint of bitter green herbs come next, and these characteristics are quickly joined by some heather honey and golden syrup. 

The sweetness evolves to include flapjack and chocolate coated cereal bars with a hint of dried fruit in the background. The growing maltiness adds to this biscuit-like quality. A twist of fresh lemon zest and hints of orange marmalade, milky cocoa and white pepper add further depth and complexity.

The finish is a touch on the short side and becomes a little hot and peppery. A lovely note of crystallised ginger comes through and rescues the situation, especially once the sweeter elements have faded away. The smoke becomes more ashy and drying with time.

What's the verdict?

This 12th release is another lovely offering from Kilchoman. The peat level of 20ppm (phenol parts per million) allows both the smokiness and other characteristics to shine and compliment each other superbly. The 100% Islay has become something of a cult classic and this whisky will just add to that. It is also interesting to see how Kilchoman's spirit is evolving as their spirit reaches increased age. The results are very promising. 

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