So...where do I start, as this review started a few months ago…
I first visited Kilchoman distillery in July 2015, and was immediately drawn in by the small-scale, traditional, manual, back to basics attitude they have adopted. There’s no glitter and fanfare - it’s a proper hard-working distillery that wouldn’t look out of place 100 years ago (apart from the odd computer screen here and there). Walking around and seeing first-hand what they do, how they do it, and feeling the slightly nervous passion of a new distillery in a land of giants was quite humbling. Even before you try the whisky, you already have a connection with it from what you see.
What they've been producing the last few years in their infancy - and I must be honest here - has not really blown me away. Younger whiskies are usually not what I go for (unless the cask is small or the climate is substantially different), and I tend to expect a certain liveliness. I tried a wide range of expressions on their tour, and whilst they were good, I wasn't tempted to buy any.
But then something like this happens, where a particular bottling seems to have pushed its way to the surface, and with a huge emotional shout, says "NOW TRY ME..."
And this is that bottle.
Mike and the crew at Abbey Whisky have a knack for choosing, quite frankly, bloody great casks. They don’t settle for ‘good' or 'not bad'. They choose superlative and exceptional casks at exceptional price points.
So on to the whisky itself…
Nose: Bonfire singed toffee, old dry wood, sherry, Armagnac soaked prunes.
Palate: Oily, thick butterscotch-sweet with raisins and oak all wrapped-up in a peat infused wrapper. Then the sherry pulls it all together and coats your mouth with honey-coated coal.
Finish: Long. More aromatic and gentle than I was expecting. A lovely ‘coaly’ bite stays in the mouth for a moment before fading away.
It needs to breathe. It also welcomes 1 or 2 drops (and I mean 1 or 2 max), of water. Then it just works brilliantly, warming you up and giving you a multitude of flavours and sensations. You end up wanting another glass almost immediately.
Yet again, Abbey have pulled on their natural ability to select a cask and to give everyone a reason to drink whisky.
Absolutely brilliant, and quite frankly, superb value.
N.B - Stock of this single cask Kilchoman is now very low, if you're looking to buy a bottle online, click here.