Kilchoman – Loch Gorm (2015 Release)
There are some new distilleries on the horizon for Islay, but here’s something from what remains – by 124 years – the youngest kid on the block at the time of writing. Five years old, this, heavily-peated and a vatting of Oloroso butts and hogsheads.
Nose: A wave of very sweet sherry on first pouring, but it merges into the background quickly. Instead there’s a mix of crème brûlée and the salty, savoury detritus at the bottom of a jar of black olives. Some smoked haddock, BBQ sauce, and some of those faint little rubber boots hints that you also get with Lagavulin. There’s a sense of being on a wooden fishing boat too: engine oil and drying nets, stuff you only really get down Islay and Campbeltown way. Bergamot too – yes, lots of that – and some quince liqueur. As it breathes the sweeter, custardy side starts to come out more.
Taste: Big. Orangey, ashy and a little salty. Very dark almost tar-like liquorice and – again – some not-unpleasant rubbery notes. Tarpaulin. Bitter rye and herbs, going into a more citrussy coriander seed quality. Hazelnut liqueur.
Finish: The sherry is more apparent: raisins, dark chocolate and lots of old leather. Again there’s liquorice (Pontefract cake) and tar. Cherry cordial. A long slightly salty and very sooty finish, with the citrus becoming cleaner and more lemony. Fruitcake in the aftertaste!
It’s a peaty fellow, this one, and I think you have to be in a robust frame of mind to tackle it. A few people I’ve tried this with have found it a bit too sooty and ashy, and if you’re just starting with Islay whiskies this isn’t the one to ease gently in with. Personally I think it strikes about the right balance, and I’m impressed by the complexity that’s present in such a young whisky. I guess five years can be enough if you start with quality spirit and are clever with your casks, although – blimey – we can expect some fun times when older bottlings start coming down the line in a few years!