Kilchoman 100% Islay, 2nd Edition – Review
*Thanks to the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.
The Irish saint, St. Comman also had a brother who was a saint – St. Cumine. Apparently that kind of things runs in one’s family. Not mine, thankfully. Both Cumine and Comman were monks at the Abbey of Iona which is located, appropriately enough, on the Isle of Iona. While Cumine was actually an Abbot during the 600′s, a quick search on Comman didn’t reveal much about the man. He must have been doing something righteous, though, because sainted he was and to this day, there’s a parish on Islay that bears his name, Kilchoman.
Perhaps he’s the saint of making damn good whisky, because the nearby Kilchoman distillery has consistently done just that in its young lifetime. Like the first release (review here), this 100% Islay Second Edition is, as the say, made “barley to bottle” on Islay, an exciting rarity in an industry where so much of the process is completed outside the distillery. The barley is grown at the Kilchoman Farm and then malted, wort-ed, washed, distilled, matured, vatted, and bottled right there at the distillery. Whereas the first edition was made up whiskies slightly older than three years old that had matured in a mix of new American oak barrels and re-fill bourbon barrels, the 2nd edition is composed of half three year old and half four year old whisky, all of which has matured in new American oak barrels.
The Nose: A somewhat lively nose with under-ripe stone fruit, peaches perhaps, lemon candies, and crisp, hard Anjou pears upfront with softly pungent peat and smoke. Coarse vanilla bean, wet limestone, and slightly sour, beery malt follow behind. Tucked a little further into the background is a bit of butterscotch and subtle, rubbed tobacco leaf. A bit of water pretty much removes that slight beer tone, replacing it with a bit of toffee and vanilla cream
The Palate: Where there’s fruit there’s fire…or at least smoke. Tart citrus, candied orange & lemon peel, and honeyed malt are accompanied right away by a wash of ashy peat smoke. Unsweetened chocolate and a slight charred wood, greenish herbal quality leads to black pepper, cardamom, and a touch of raw ginger. All the while, the slightly sweet, slightly ashy peat and smoke wind their way through. Ah, a splash of water draws out the palate so nicely, slowing down some of the quick youth and smoothing rough edges without losing its mild complexity.
The Finish: Long & lingering, a little citric with white pepper, honey, a bit of barrel char and that Kilchoman ashy peat smoke.
Thoughts: What can I say? Another delicious Kilchoman. Much like the first edition of 100% Islay, I found this to be a little simpler and straightforward than those expressions that use both American and European oak, but that’s not a negative at all, just an appealing difference. That said, when comparing these two 100% editions, this one was livelier and had a bit more complexity thanks to those varied malt notes and the influence of the new oak. I really enjoyed the addition of water to this one, I felt it added to the experience whereas with the First Edition, water did not necessarily improve things for me. Like the first one, I was impressed by the consistent structure and progression of the second edition and glad it was bottled at such a high ABV. Yet another remarkably good whisky from this remarkable young distillery. Definitely recommended.