Kilchoman, the 8th distillery on Islay, does not have any expressions available in the United States yet, but if you act fast upon a new release, you can place orders and have them shipped from the UK. By “act fast,” I mean make sure you either have one reserved ahead of time, or place an order the day of release. It’s looking like they plan to do 3 or 4 limited (8,500 to 10,000 bottles) releases per year. The next release will be coming out in March. I’ve already written a few blog posts about Kilchoman, including a review if the Inaugural release. In November, Kilchoman came out with their second official wide-release bottling, called the “Autumn 2009 Release.”
In this blog post, I’ll compare these two releases (thanks to Jason at WHISKYhost for the Autumn 2009 sample). I actually have a bottle of this release now, but haven’t decided if/when to open it yet [I know...don't become an evil collector :-)]. The Inaugural was matured for approximately 3 years and then finished for 5 months in Oloroso sherry casks. The Autumn 2009 release was also matured for 3 years, then finished for 3 months in Oloroso sherry casks. Additionally, there is one refill bourbon cask mixed into the Autumn vatting.
Kilchoman Inaugural Release: See notes in this previous post.
Kilchoman Autumn 2009 Release; OB; 46%; Approximately $60
This is really good, and the sherry finish provides some very obvious added complexity. The spiciness that’s added to this release reminds me of how the Madeira finish impacts the latest Balvenie 17 year. The palate seemed a little more tame than I expected…I guess that came with some of the smoothing on the nose. However, the finish is lengthy, with plenty of smoke for the peat lover. As always, I won’t provide a number score when I’m only tasting a sample, but looking through my scoring spreadsheet, it’s probably in the 84/85 range relative to the other whiskies I’ve had. A solid B in my book, and amazing for a three year!
Note: I gave the Inaugural Release 84 points in my previous review. I had commented that it felt like an 81 pointer, but gave it 3 bonus points for the long, peaty finish. In hindsight, given that I’m not inclined to go higher with the Autumn Release score, I would probably subtract one or two of those bonus points for the Inaugural.
Comparing to the Inaugural Release
I had already read other Kilchoman reviews, and people seemed to be liking the Autumn release better than the Inaugural. Still, I was surprised at how much the nose had changed. Maybe I should have suspected as much when I put the bottles next to each other and saw how much darker the Autumn release is. Given that the Autumn release actually spent two months LESS in sherry casks at the end, they surely did something different with regards to first-fill vs refill?
Two things stand out immediately when comparing the Autumn release to the Inaugural. First is the lack of “egginess” that I was picking up on the Inaugural. It didn’t really bother me much when trying the Inaugural alone, but head-to-head, I really appreciate the perceived maturity of the Autumn release. Second, the extra spices in the Autumn release make it much less of a one trick pony. I mean, this is still a whisky for peat lovers, but that’s not all it has to offer. The one area that the Inaugural beats out the Autumn release is in the impact on the tongue. It’s more drying and has more pepper, giving a very enjoyable boost that I wish was still there in the Autumn release. Two steps forward, one step back, I suppose.
I did discover something new about the Inaugural release when doing the head-to-head…a very slight farminess on the nose and finish that I had never picked up before.
- WHISKYhost – Jason at WHISKYhost did a comparison right after the Autumn 2009 release came out. He also liked this release better than the Inaugural.
- WhiskyNotes – Ruben likes the Autumn release better, mentioning a lack of “new make” notes. He also finds something soapy on the palate, which I did not pick up. His notes pretty much nailed it. I find myself agreeing with his notes more than any other reviewer.
- Whisky Israel – Gal, over at Whisky Israel REALLY likes this release. But then, he’s a total peat freak.
- Master of Malt – Some nice tasting notes on the Master of Malt web site. I bought didn’t get my bottle from them, but I heard that their buying experience is fantastic.