Kilchoman Single Malt Scotch Whisky held a 10 Year Anniversary Celebration at Jack Rose Saloon in Washington, DC on Oct. 21. Launched in 2005, the Islay distillery is one of the smallest in Scotland. But that didn’t stop them from offering about 20 different expressions for attendees to sample.
Walking through the door, participants received their first dram of the night — Kilchoman new make. Bottled at 70% ABV, or 140-proof, it was as close to sipping off the still as it gets.
Nose: Charcoal, peat, hay, grass
Tongue: Malt, grain, viscous grain-moonshine mouthfeel and flavor
Finish: Mild burn with peat finish
With the new-make serving as a hearty starting point, attendees were then allowed to make their way to three serving tables that offered themed flights.
One table served to showcase nothing but “vintage” bottlings, like the Spring 2011 release, which was bottled at 46% ABV. Kilchoman grows its own barley for these offerings on the distillery’s farm. So, the argument is that each bottling showcases subtle differences in terroir and aging – the like wine. All of them were aged for five years.
Of the four available in the vintage range, I really enjoyed the Islay Pipe Band 2015 Release PX Finish – their most recent.
Nose: Sweet sherry and candied apple notes, peat
Tongue: Mild sherry sweetness, light peat, floral notes, cherry and stone fruit. Velvety mouthfeel
Finish: Long peat finish with lingering sherry notes
This whisky was really the Belle of the ball, and stuck with me throughout the night.
In addition to the table with vintage releases, the event also featured a table with annual releases and a table of single cask expressions.
All attendees were given drams of two other special releases. Kilchoman Feis Ile 2015 was their most recent entry into the Islay Scotch Whisky Festival. It was a single cask expression, matured in first-fill Buffalo Trace barrels. It was bottled at Cask Strength – 58% ABV. Unsurprisingly, it featured more bourbon flavors than the other expressions, with subtle sweet corn notes covering the palate.
The other special release was the Kilchoman 10th Anniversary Single Malt. At 58.2% ABV, it was another sherried whiskey, and was also one of the more balanced and tasty expressions available.
In addition to all of the great tastings, highlights of the evening included a chance to speak with James Wills, ambassador and son of Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills, as well as a special birthday cake.
Scotland’s Isle of Islay is one of the five official geographic designations for Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Fans of the region love the big salt-and-peat profile associated with the area. Despite being young (the distillery is 10 years old, but the oldest whisky it could legally release is seven), all of Kilchoman’s offerings showed depth and character. If you enjoy peated whiskies, it’s definitely worth working Kilchoman into your rotation.