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Kilchoman – Islay’s First Farm Distillery

 

Picture Credits: Kilchomandistillery.com

Kilchoman is one of the newest distilleries to be built on Islay in 124 years. Anthony Wills, the founder and managing director of Kilchoman chose Islay because of its reputation for producing exceptional malt whiskies. Kilchoman is one of the smallest distilleries in Islay, producing 120,000 litres of alcohol annually.

History of Kilchoman Distillery

Picture Credits: www.kilchomandistillery.com

Anthony Wills founded Kilchoman in 2005, after running an independent single cask bottling company for eight years. The first distillate of Kilchoman ran in December 2005, and the first cask sealed on 14 December 2005. Anthony noted the interest in limited release single malt whiskies growing from the 1990s through his independent bottling company. He wanted to begin a distillery to cater to the growing demand, but he wanted his distillery to be different. Choosing Islay wasn’t difficult because of his family roots, the fertile land and the plentiful water and peat for drying the malt. Kilchoman is the ultimate farm distillery where Anthony “takes whisky back to its roots”. Whisky distillation mainly began as illegal operations on farms back in the 1700s and 1800s, so “taking whisky back to its roots” means that Kilchoman mirrors the beginning of whisky distillation.

Building the Kilchoman Distillery

Rockside Farm is selected because it grows the best malting barley on the island. The buildings on the farmland are also perfect for a distillery. Nonetheless, the real challenge was raising funds for the distillery. Anthony raised £1 million from private individuals, the local board and bank. These individuals and enterprises rose to the challenge when the distillery needed a further £3.5 million in the early years of the distillery. Kilchoman’s success is a direct reflection of the passion and dedication of these people in the community.

The Whisky-making Process

The exciting video above explains the whisky-making process at Kilchoman distillery. From barley to bottle, Kilchoman did it all.

The Whisky from Kilchoman Distillery

Kilchoman distillery has an impressive range of whiskies despite its relatively young age. Many of their whiskies have won awards, including their flagship Machir Bay, which we have reviewed. Two other note-worthy bottles are the Kilchoman 8-year-old, which we found to be excellent and sophisticated, as well as the Kilchoman Single Cask.

Kilchoman Distillery Moving Forward

We believe that Kilchoman will grow bigger and better in the years to come. The young whiskies from this distillery have been a pleasant surprise to the whisky community; so we believe that the older ones that are to come will be satisfying too!

 

Whisky Review #51 – Octomore 08.1

We wanted to try more Octomore after our first experience with Octomore 10, 2nd Edition. We managed to get a sample of the Octomore 08.1 from a friend recently and decided to share our notes.

Octomore 08.1 is aged 8 years. At 167ppm, it is considered a rather peaty whisky.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Pale Straw
ABV: 59.3%

Nose: Briney notes hit at first with a bit of smoke and spice as well as hints of lemons. It opens up after a while, with vanilla coming forward. The spice and smoke receded into the background with some peat resurfacing after a while. (18/20)

Palate: Sweet vanilla and lemony citrus notes coat the palate before pepper spice rushes in. Hints of nuts can be found in the background. Slight floral notes then kick in with sea salt ending the palate. The peat lingers pleasantly throughout, encompassing but not overwhelming. (18/20)

Finish: Long finish with some vanilla and citrusy notes. Spice lingers in the throat for some time before dispersing into a breath of smoke. (17/20)

Body: Balanced and surprising dram. Good in its own way but did not fare as well as Octomore 10 2nd Edition. (32/40)

Total Score: 85/100

Comments:

Geek Choc: Not my favourite Octomore but I must say that it is still a good whisky overall. I look forward to try more Octomore in future.

 

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Whisky Review #50 – AR1 – Elements of Islay

If you have not heard about Elements of Islay, do pay us a little more attention than usual. The Elements of Islay showcases whiskies produced by Islay distilleries. Founded in 2006, it was decided early on that each whisky bottle would not show the age or vintage as the whiskies are meant to be enjoyed by their flavours. It was said that the age statements would run from 5 years to 30 years if age statements are involved.

Each Element of Islay bottle is labelled by its “symbol” but anyone can visit their website to find out the distillery behind each symbol. This works like the periodic table – each element is labelled using a symbol.

We tried the AR1, which translates to Ardbeg. The number 1 simply means that it is the first bottle of Ardbeg bottled by the Elements of Islay. This expression is distilled during the 1990s or 2000s and matured in a hogshead. Let’s get into the review now.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Gold
ABV: 58.7%

Nose: Fresh, sweet peppers fill the nose, with pleasant, almost floral peat and soft spices. With time, more sweetness emerges and the spice recedes into the background. (18/20)

Palate: Full spice mouth with sweet caramel and some elderflowers. A second sip reveals honey, malt and white pepper covered by an oaky mouthfeel. Hints of peats form as the liquid disappears down the throat. (18/20)

Finish: Long, peaty finish that resembles smoking a mild cigar. Spice is presented with honey to balance off that complex flavour profile of sweet peat and spice. (19/20)

Body: Well balanced whisky! Epic smoky whisky with a good complex profile. You can almost say that it is an Ardbeg body with a Laphroaig nose. (36/40)

Total Score: 91/100 

Comments:

Geek Choc: “This is one of my favourite whiskies to date! That complexity of peat, spice and sweetness just blew me away! If you can get your hands on a bottle, do it!”

 

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Whisky Review #46 – The Single Cask Bowmore 14 Years Old

Bowmore, oh Bowmore…it has such an interesting history that we could wax lyrical about its 1960s to 1980s bottles. Although things changed in the 1990s for no apparent reason, we are guessing that it was due to some teething issues when Suntory took over the distillery. The merry news is that Bowmore bounced back to its heydeys in the 2000s and is once again, producing great whisky.

This bottle of Bowmore 14 years old by The Single Cask (TSC) is distilled in 2001 and bottled in 2016. An interesting note about this bottle is the exclusivity. Only 90 bottles are realised from HALF of cask 31931 because the cask actually belonged to someone else (another independent bottler) and they refused to sell all of it to TSC. Well, TSC took whatever they can, and this is the result of their exceptional selection.

Let’s jump to the review!

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Amber
ABV: 50%

Nose: The first nose is that of heavenly smoked bacon. Oh, that smell literally sends you tingles of happiness! White peppers and hints of sweet citrus follow after. A few minutes wait reveals some sea salt that blends so well with the smoked bacon. (18/20)

Palate: The entry is made of smoky citrus – lemony, orangey taste. Slight hints of sea salt followed by white pepper. The smokiness brings along some form of savoury meat (think: smoked bacon) and the blend of salt, pepper and meat makes this a complex and flavourful drink. (18/20)

Finish: The finish is long and full of pleasant peat and smoke. The peat is not overwhelming but instead, stays on the palate pleasantly just like a warm fire in winter. The smokiness lingers very long before it disappears altogether. (18/20)

Body: This is an exceptional whisky with a good, complex body. The balance between the nose, palate and finish is exquisite and definitely not something that you will come across regularly. Compared to the official bottling (OB) of Bowmore, this is something that appears to outdo some of them. (37/40)

Total Score: 91/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “This whisky blew me away. Not a fan of peat and smoke, I was at first doubtful about the Bowmore. I was sold after the first nose of smoked bacon, and when the complexity of the whisky revealed itself, I was convinced that this is one of the best Bowmore I have ever drunk. Interestingly, many people shared my interest and the whisky has flown off the shelves at TSC. Only 3 bottles are left, and they are not for sale. If you are keen to get your hands on it, the Master of Malt still has one left, as of 02 October 2017. Do remember that it is from cask 31931.” 

 

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