This week, the Feis Ile festival on Islay is in full swing – a week of whisky, music, dancing and general merriment. All the distilleries throw their doors open and welcome eager whisky lovers and you can (with planning!) visit a distillery open day every day of the week.
I am, as you may have guessed, not there this year. Instead, I’m sat at home filled with smouldering jealousy of everyone in my twitter stream telling me what a wonderful week it is.
Still, if I can’t be there in person then I can at least be there in spirit. The spirit in question is from Kilchoman – the final Islay distillery, I think, to appear here on the blog which is appropriate, as it’s also the youngest distillery on the island.
Founded in 2005, they take a truly artisan approach to whisky making. They’re one of only a handful of distilleries with their own traditional floor maltings, and even grow a significant proportion of their own barley.
I have a couple of their bottles waiting in the cupboard for a good reason to open them. This is the Kilchoman Spring 2010 Release. Barely old enough to be a whisky – it’s the legal minimum 3 years – but experience has taught me that age isn’t everything, especially when it comes to this distillery.
It’s comparatively pale in the glass, but considering the short time spent in the barrel that’s only to be expected. The nose is sweet caramel, overtones of syrupy green fruit (pear perhaps?) with a gentle peatiness to it – not bonfire harsh like some Islays can be, but more like a distant campfire.
Water really doesn’t change it that much; the fruit is perhaps a little more obvious, but it’s marginal.
The smoke hits you much more on tasting; just the briefest of sweet sugar on the tip of your tongue that leads instantly into big, powerful alcohol and peat. It’s almost creamy in the mouth, strong but wonderfully smooth with a lingering, burning tail with just a hint of pepper at the very end.
Again, water doesn’t make a huge impact – the sweet start is a little more lingering, the peat a little less powerful but it’s still smooth, creamy, with a long smoky tail.
I’ve been eagerly waiting to open this bottle, and it doesn’t disappoint. It has all the depth and subtlety of a whisky five times it’s age, while managing to remain a seriously drinkable dram.
I can’t wait to see how their range matures.