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Kilchoman Summer 2010 Release

Average score from 6 reviews and 16 ratings 84

Kilchoman Summer 2010 Release

Product details

  • Brand: Kilchoman
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 46.0%
  • Age: 3 year old
  • Bottled: 2010

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Kilchoman Summer 2010 Release

I realized that I had neglected to review this bottle that I got Pam a couple of years ago - and it's the last dram in a bottle that's been open for quite a while. So let's see how it holds up...

This is (was) only the fourth whisky that Kilchoman ever released, a three year old matured in ex-bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace.

The colour is a cloudy pale yellow. On the nose we have lots of lemon, grapefruit zest, massive peat smoke, iodine, heather, green apple skins and hay. My word, I think there's a fire starting in the barn over yonder!

On the palate the lemon gets behind the iodine and peat smoke, which takes centre stage. More grapefruit, more brine and definitely more medicinal. Oily mouthfeel. Tasty and totally in my wheelhouse, but could use a bit more complexity.

The finish is long and smoky with lemon drops, cloves and white pepper. Maybe it's been the last of an open bottle for too long, as it's a bit flabby, though as always I appreciate the peat and citrus dialogue. Not quite as strong as the Spring 2010 release I reviewed a few years ago.


Kilchoman Summer 2010 46% OB (10/9437 215) bought 12-6-2011 opened 4-4-2-12

Some bottles are consistent – they change, but in a predictable way. Other bottles go through radical changes seemingly overnight. And then occasionally change again! The hard question you have to ask your self, “Is this just me? Am I changing? Or is it just the bottle?” It is a difficult question to answer honestly. This is why I believe in trying to taste new whiskies against a standard (a bottle that is known). And least you have some form of reference. But the problem is that these bottles also change. And in the end I feel like I am trying to hit a target on a bouncing ball while riding in stage coach going down a rugged mountain side.

Here is a case with a very strange bottle of Kilchoman 2010 Summer release. I have tasted it making notes on six occasions. Usually, I taste it next to Laphroaig 10yo (it is one of my trusted standards for reference). Here is what happened over the course of a year. The scores are from 0 (water) - 6.5 (for perfect).

Nose: 4/4/2012: As I crack the bottle I am getting almost no smell at all . . . I’ll come back to it . . . Wow there it is! Peat – deep rich dirty dark black cakey earth. It isn’t wet earth like Ardbeg or Laphroaig can be. This is just good old farm earth from Grandpa’s farm. There are hints of animals, hay in the barn, and animal feed. With time sweeter notes come out: candied lemon drops, strawberries and dried bananas. There might be a little citrus, but it is really hard to tune in to it. = 5

4/6/12: Super smoky. Peaty smoke. Ashtray smoke – not cigar. More time reveals more kinds of smoke. It isn’t just peat smoke, or hickory smoke, but also cedar, dry twigs, and spruce smoke. There is a bit of citrus in the background – oranges and lime juice; possibly pineapple. Now a bit of leather chair comes through. This is just a wonderful study in smoke. = 5.5

5/16/12 Very subdued and dusty. It has a dirty and dusty quality to the peat. It is like walking into an old oak house where no one has lived for several years. This is the peat of an old farm house filled with books, wooden furniture, and cobwebs. The wood is old and rotting, but the smoke is amazing. It just sits there about 4 inches off the ground and curls around your legs. Something seems off about this particular dram . . . maybe a tainted glass? There is just so much cigarette ashtray. = 3.5

5/30/12 Yup, I am getting that dirty, dusty, dry peat thing again. Funny, I don’t remember it when I first opened the bottle. However, now it is all I am getting. I am transported back to that dry, dusty, dirty farm house in Kansas. I can feel the caked on dust lingering on the few books in the library. Perhaps a bit of malt and hay in the background? = 3.5

5/25/13 Smoke, smoke and more smoke! Like licking an ashtray. Here the smoke is first followed by lighter fruit notes (guava? lime? Pineapple?) followed by peat in the far background. Now I am getting that antiseptic thing like Laphroaig but at a much higher register (several octaves up). Also very sweet. = 5 Side note: I thought this had gone flat and dull; the smoke had taken over. However, I think it just needed a bigger glass to release all the aromas.

6/1/13: There is that old bitter burnt wood thing again . . . I thought it disappeared. My guess is that it is that dark gunk at the bottom of the bottle. It got all stirred up today with me trying to rebottle it. The result is a bitter charred wood thing; not pleasant. = 3

So the Nose is what constantly kept changing. Everything else remained fairly consistent in score (maybe a half a point deviation from one tasting to the next). Here is a basic summary of the rest of the bottle:

Taste: Sweet malt, sweet vanilla, sweet peat, and sweet honey. Wow! Mostly smoke, wood and peat, but not quite as big the “big three.” Now some smoke starts to take over . . . and here comes the ocean salt . . . not a bitter or off note! Tastes like smoking hay cooking tropical fruit. This is extremely lovely. = 5.5

Finish: Huge smoky finish. Total peat smoke all the way. Spicy, salty, peaty finish with white peppercorns, smoke, and a huge blast of peat smoke. It is a billowing cloud of sweet peat smoke. That is it – the big three (Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroaig) all seem to hit you like a wave from the ocean. This young guy hits you like a concussive explosion from a peat grenade. It is peat smoke from the bbq with sweet pig fat drippings. There is some lovely sweetness that reminds you both of bbq and splenda. Still, as big as it started it is only a medium to medium long finish. = 5

Balance, Complexity: I think this is only three years old – flabbergasting! Already you are seeing the development of the peat and the sweet. I have to give it points for balance because the peat, smoke and sweetness all work really well together. But points off for complexity – but not much because it is only around 3 year old. = 4.5

Aesthetic experience: Pale straw (like the bottle tells me ;). Medium bodied. I love the name, the stylized “h” and the blue color. I even love the Celtic swirl on the cork! I love the idea behind the company (small, local barley, ncf, natural color, etc.), and I love the strength (but I won’t be disappointed if they go up a bit). The only thing I dislike is the size of the bottle. It is like a bad Bruichladdich bottle combined with a Diageo bottle to form something . . . unappealing. Luckily it looks like the next bottles have a different size spout and cork stopper that look more proportionally appealing.

Conclusion: This was a very odd bottle. I’m very glad to have tasted it: Kilchoman at 3 years old has a GREAT deal of promise for the future. I really can’t explain the differences I detected from the 6 different nose scores. Basically I would get a dusty ashtray smoke and rotted wood, or I would get a wonderful blend of peat, smoke and fruit. My working theory is some of the dark gunk that accumulated at the very center of the bottle might have had something to do with the off nose. But it is very hard to say.

When the nose was lovely the final score was 86 When the nose was bad it scored an 84

I am splitting the difference with this inclusive score = 85


This is Islay's first farm distillery. Which means that they grow their own barley instead of buying it. The distiller is very very new and, hence, the expressions on offer are almost foetal in age.

This particular one is around 4 years old (though I suspect younger). Quite pale in it's appearance with runny legs. It's a mildly peated whisky with a familiar Islay twang to it. Freshly cut grass and wet wood are the first aromas that catch your attention. If you try harder and let your mind wander you can almost discern a fruit basket filled with tangerines and ripe pears. Visit it a third time and traces of Islay start to feature. The familiar smell of iodine and moist sea sand bring you comfort.

Though the aromas are all there they seem somewhat weak and confused. Much like newly born kittens meowing for attention but not getting any.

The delivery is dry and the first sip vanishes from your palate so fast it would make Houdini proud. As you coax a second taste from the glass a bundle of aniseed stuck to red Lozenges come rolling in. The sensation on the side of my tongue signals an element of citrus and finally nuts and small stick of clove tickle the back of my throat going down.

This is a young malt and has yet to define itself. It is desperately trying to build character but seems it is being nipped in the bud much too soon. While this distillery has great promise in the future is it doing itself a disservice by releasing it's malts too soon?

I certainly think so.

Thanks for your comment. I guess since tasting notes and liking a whisky are subjective issues then I guess it's only natural that a rating system be subjective too. For some 80/100 is mediocre and for someone else it's very good. Never really possible to reconcile the two opinions.

My ratings are based more often than not on the type of ratings Jim Murray gives. I started off by reading his Bible first so chances are I am influenced in that sense. For me anything in the 80-85 ranges is me is average. If you wish to understand my ratings specifically you can access my whisky blog at maltactivist.com --- I have tried to make sense of my rating scale.

How does one reconcile a judgement of "mediocre" with a rating of 82/100 ?

Nothing against you or your review, just that this whole rating system makes no sense to me as it seems to be actually ratings out of 20 (with 80 added for good measure).


This is my first review on this site, so here goes nothing...

Kilchoman is the newest distillery on the isle of Islay, if not the newest in all of Scotland. The Summer 2010 release is aged about 3 years 6 months, which needless to say is very young for a single malt. It is aged entirely in refill bourbon oak, bottled without added colour or chill filtration. I am drinking it with a bit of water.

The nose offer lots and lots of dry, ashy peat smoke. There is not a ton of complexity but there is a sweetness to it, reminiscent of vanilla. I don't get any of the tropical fruits promised on the box, but there is a sweetness almost like baby powder (not overpowering). It is not a layer of sweetness beneath the peat; rather, it is like the peat itself is sweet, if that makes sense to you.

The flavour is intensely smoky. There is a mouth-tingling sweetness like strong black licorice. Sometimes the peat overpowers my mouth, while other times the strength of the flavour is welcome.

The finish...well, I don't need to tell you that the peat lasts a long, long time after swallowing.

Overall it is a pretty good whisky, especially if you like peat. It has a rough edge to it due to its age (or lack thereof). I would recommend it if you can find it on sale (it went for $35 in Ontario by some miracle). At full price you might be better off with Laphroaig or something older.

Excellent first review. Welcome to the site!

I agree, nice first review and good to have you on the site @Megawatt


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.

Hot mustard and menthol. Interesting. This sounds like a rather distinctive flavour profile. I would like a sip of this, please! And love the blue box and bottle label!


Colour is very light golden from the greater percentage of bourbon cask mix-in (4). Nose of forest fire and wet ash, touch of Alcolado Glacial. First flavour is lightly fruity, but moves quickly to extremely smokey.

Yes, quite a wonderful young whisky.

I passed this up today and opted for the Caol Ila based on the vendors recommendation. I look forward to tasting this in the coming weeks after reading your review.

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