Category Archives: Kilchoman

Kilchoman ‘Sanaig’

Bought: Master of Malt, 18th September 2018

85.18/100 – Whiskybase (average from 265 member votes)

It’s been over 3 years since I added a Kilchoman to my collection, which is something I feel quite guilty about. This Islay distillery, albeit the newest on the island (for now), produces fantastic single malt whisky. Even an ‘average’ Kilchoman is head-and-shoulders above most drams on the market. Unfortunately I was thinking about my wallet when the first 10-year-old appeared for Club members a few years ago. I should have bought it but it seemed very expensive for a 10yo, even at cask strength. But one shouldn’t have regrets with whisky because there are so many good experiences to be had from bottles you do manage to secure. One or two gems are bound to slip through the net.

I’ve had my eye on the ‘Sanaig’ ever since it was released in 2015. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it’s because of the purple packaging. What can I say – it’s my favourite colour! But, even so, I wouldn’t have bought the Sanaig if it wasn’t good whisky. The Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve has purple packaging but I’m in no hurry to buy a bottle, unless it’s reduced to £20 to reflect the quality of the whisky inside.

The name ‘Sanaig’ refers to a sea inlet near Kilchoman distillery and doesn’t appear to have any Gaelic meaning in English that I can find. Perhaps the purple rocks or seaweed of Sanaig bay influenced the choice of presentation. Overall the whisky inside is well liked with comments online including, “for a relatively young whisky the complexity of this spirit cannot be understated”, “good balance between bourbon a sherry cask and peaty whisky” and “if you prefer medium peated single malts with chocolate notes I can’t recommend anything higher than this”.

Tasting notes from Master of Malt:

Nose: Pineapple chunks and white grapes. Hints of fresh coffee carry the earthy, subtly spicy peat. Toffee cubes.

Palate: More light fruits (this time of the peach variety), with dark chocolate raisins and a whisper of red berries. Peat grows and grows, with a little black pepper too.

Finish: Quite long with coastal peat lasting.

Vin PF of No Nonsense Whisky gives his thoughts on the Kilchoman Sanaig on YouTube (July 2018):

Kilchoman ‘Coull Point’

Bought: World Duty Free, 2nd July 2015

84.48/100 – Whiskybase (average from 35 member votes)

This Kilchoman is a Travel Retail exclusive, which usually means it’s available outside of the UK and several places within. This doesn’t appear to be the case with the ‘Coull Point’, which I first saw in UK airports in 2014. I spoke to an employee at the ‘World of Whisky’ shop in Gatwick airport who said his company had bought up all the stock. Since Kilchoman is a small distillery, I believe him. The Whisky Barrel in the UK is trying to sell it for £200 but they clearly got their stock from the airports where it’s only £50. A £150 mark-up?! Seriously?! You can buy bottles at auction for around £50-£60.

84.5/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent mark. It seems hard to dislike Kilchoman. The distillery is probably the best success story in the whisky world in recent years. Comments from Whiskybase members include “nice whisky”, “a very active, young interesting thing with a character of its own and a lot of potential” and “one of Kilchoman’s most successful presentations to date”.

If you can find the Kilchoman ‘Coull Point’ at an airport for £50 I’d recommend getting a bottle. Not only is it good to drink but also it has potential as an investment.

Kilchoman Coull Point NAS 70cl

Kilchoman Original Cask Strength – 59.2%

Bought: The Whisky Shop, 11th May 2015

86.6/100 – Whiskybase (average from 107 member votes)

This bottle certainly puts the ‘kill’ in Kilchoman because it assassinated my blog for over a month. I couldn’t find any reviews to add links to or discuss. I was surprised to find, or not find any mention of it on Whiskybase. Thankfully it’s been added now and 86.6/100 from 107 votes is a fantastic score.

I have several bottles of Kilchoman in my collection but, to my shame, I’m yet to taste any of them. It looks like the only way to get my blog moving again is to crack this bottle open. On the back of the box we have the following tasting remarks:

  • Nose: Soft peaty aromas, citrus and pear drops.
  • Palate: Sweetness first, soft peat smoke and ripe fruity notes.
  • Finish: Long and clean with peat smoke and citrus later.

I agree with all of these. From my nosing I got peat, citrus and pear drops but also grass, vanilla, and memories of Ledaig and Yamazaki. Not quite the combination I was expecting. I tried a Ledaig later and realised there were similarities but the Kilchoman was much more subtle. The 59.2% certainly wasn’t, which helped provide a nicely rounded body and long finish.

This is such a delightful whisky I’m left wondering why I hadn’t tried Kilchoman before. Perhaps I was worried I’d become an addict! There are so many versions of Kilchoman available, it would cost a fortune to track them all down. But if you’ve never tried this distillery before, I’d recommend it. If you’ve never tried any Islay whisky then Kilchoman would be a good starting point. None of the bottles I have mention ‘medicinal’ in their tasting notes, which is the flavour I found hardest to appreciate when I first tried the likes of Laphroaig. I got there eventually though!

Kilchoman Original Cask Strength NAS 70cl

Kilchoman ‘Machir Bay’ 2014

Bought – Loch Fyne, 19th June 2014

90.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014 (for the 2013 Machir Bay)

As I’m writing this I have the Machir Bay bottle on display to the right of my monitor. It has a very pleasant, dumpy shape to it. Originally I ordered the 2013 edition of Machir Bay from Loch Fyne but they phoned me to say it was meant to say ‘2014’ on their website. Although they had both listed, and I’d ordered the 2013 mainly because it was £35 and the 2014 was £40. They agreed to give me the 2014 for £35, so £5 off! 🙂 I’m loving this whisky even more!

Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible gives the 2012 version of Machir Bay 93/100 so the 2013 has slipped a bit with 90.5/100. Nevertheless that’s still classed as “brilliant” according to Jim’s ratings. In my hunt for reviews I stumbled across a write-up on Whisky Intelligence (here) that says the 2014 Machir Bay is an improvement on the 2013 which, as Jim Murray highlighted, had slipped a bit since 2012. This all makes good reading to me!

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2014 70cl

Kilchoman 2010 Winter Release

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 17th September 2013

With Kilchoman being born in 2005 and the first distillery on Islay for 124 years, it doesn’t take a collector long before they think “I must get myself one of those!” I was intending to hold out for a 70cl of Machir Bay 2013 for Christmas when I stumbled across a miniature of this 2010 Winter Release. Normally Kilchoman miniatures have been £8 or more but with these at £6 each I pushed the boat out and got two! What a wild, reckless, crazy fool I am!

88/100 – Whisky Bible 2013

Kilchoman Winter Release 2010 5cl