In a recent whisky quiz I completed, I noticed I was able to name every single Islay distillery in less than 7 seconds. Therefore it was with great anticipation that I had been following the creation of the newest distillery (first of this millenium): Kilchoman (pronounced Kil-HO-man). Almost 125 years have passed since a new one has been opened on Islay. Quite a nice little farm distillery, only one of a handful of distilleries that grow and malt their own barley. Distillation and casking started in 2005.
A recent acquaintance of mine (God bless him for coming into my life, lol) brought in several of the Kilchomans to his spirits establishment. I had it on my purchase wishlist but priorities like my daughter's braces and groceries (hehe) prohibited me from doing that for a bit longer than I had anticipated. When the Kilchoman made it to the top of my list, I ordered two bottles of the 2006 Vintage. I had a gut feeling that I would enjoy it immensely. The bottles arrived the third week of April and I waited and waited (and in the process drove Graham nuts I'm sure) asking when we could do a nose/tasting. FINALLY, May 6th, he tortured me no more and we opened one of the bottles. My friends and whisky lovers, Kilchoman touts itself as a uniquely Islay whisky and it DOES NOT disappoint.
It's the first 5 year old released from the distillery, vintage 2006. Distilled from Optic barley (peated to 50ppm) and matured in 80% first-fill Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels (one of my favorites!) as well as Miguel Martin Sherry butts from Spain. Non chill filtered and no caramel added (NAKED whisky, woohoo!), bottled at 46% AVB. After taking the better part of an hour to nose/taste it, I decided to grab a few more Islays and do a bit of comparing as fas as nose and flavors go. I also pulled down my bottle of Talisker 57 degrees north mostly because a fellow Canadian blogger mentioned recently that although Talisker is not "technically" an Islay it has the same feel as one (or something to that effect, I'm loosely paraphrasing).
So, considering the Kilchoman 2006's age (it is only 5) when you put it up against the likes of Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Laphroaig Triple Wood and the Bowmore 12 it doesn't reach the same level and heights but I have to admit I was truly impressed with how well it held its own for being the youngster! I'm no expert by any means, but I will say that given time, I really think this distillery will produce whiskies that will not only stand but surpass the other Islays. It IS truly unique and hopefully will continue to be so. I raise my glass to the newest distillery on Islay. Congrats on creating an Islay whisky that mimics no other I have ever tasted.
I had been using the Bowmore 12 or 15 as an introductory Islay for women to try. I think I'm going to replace it with the Kilchoman for a time to see how it compares. Again, gut feeling: Women will really LOVE this dram.