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The youngest distillery in Islay by 124 years, Kilchoman has a lot to live up to. There are many fans of the budding distillery, whilst others complain about the high price tag attached to so young a malt. The Summer 2010 expression, Kilchoman's fourth release to date, is just 3.5 years old and matured exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels. Thanks to an unprecedented, shockingly good deal offered by the local government-run alcohol monopoly, no one in Ontario is complaining about the price tag of this release; in fact, it disappeared from store shelves throughout the entire province in less than a few weeks.
The nose is replete with wood smoke, salt and pepper, and hot mustard. It is boldly phenolic, grassy, and medicinal, with hints of vanilla, menthol, and a touch of that old horse blanket everyone goes on about.
The palate is light, buttery, and a bit hot, but pleasantly so. Again, there is intense wood smoke, a whacking great hit of salt, vinegar, pepper, and yet more mustard. On the finish there is a thorough dose of anise, along with some olive brine.
Audaciousness aside, it is surprisingly smooth and competent for so young a whisky, punching in at much higher weight class than you might expect. I have heard that the previous releases, being partly sherry matured, were better. Not having tried those expressions, I remain blissfully unawares.