Kilchoman Spirit Run Various ABV

kilchoman new make

“Kilchoman is Scotland’s only Single Farm Single Malt, hand-crafted from barley grown in the surrounding fields and malted on-site.

Kilchoman was the first distillery to be built on Islay in over 124 years. The distillery was founded in 2005 by Anthony Wills and is Islay’s only farm distillery, producing Single Farm Single Malt. Kilchoman is one of the few whisky distilleries in Scotland to remain independent.” – Kilchoman

Back in August, Kilchoman Distillery hosted a live ‘spirit run tasting’. It delved into their distillation process, focusing on the spirit run that is collected from the spirit still during the second distillation.

The tasting explored the different flavours and aromas that are present as the spirit run changes and develops over time, from 5 minutes to 90 minutes. 

The new makes included in the tasting were:

  • 5 mins – 74% (20ml)
  • 25 mins – 72% (20ml)
  • 45 mins – 69% (20ml)
  • 90 mins – 65.5% (20ml)

Neither @StillSurreal nor I were able to attend the live tasting. Luckily it was recorded and made available on YouTube using the button below.

We weren’t really sure what to expect from our tasting. I for one hadn’t nosed any of the samples until 5 minutes prior to the start, so I was slightly concerned I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Kilchoman New Make spriit 5 minute:

Nose: Extraordinary nose. Screams blackcurrant and red berries! 74% ABV, yeah, that’d wake you like smelling salts, but a far nicer smell! I love that berry new make aroma! Lots of confectionary sugar under the ethanol and berries. After you acclimatise to the ABV, the peat aromas in the other 3 start to evolve in the background, just smouldering away. Slight Cheesy Funk.

Palate: Butter, liquorice, chocolate, ETHANOL! Bloody hell that’s a strong spirit! It actually gives the sensation of being warm, when it isn’t. Proper hip flask stuff! Malt after the glass matures.

Finish: Berries and heat all day long.

Overall: All wrapped in the huge ABV! Beautiful berries and slight peat on the nose. Chocolate, smouldering peat and buttery goodness on the palate and tingling warming finish of more berries and smoke.

Kilchoman New Make spriit 25 minute:

Nose: There’s slightly more balance in the 25 min one. Berries are dialled back slightly, while the smokiness is a bit more evident. Nice. Those confectionary sweet notes are there. It’s all subtly easier to smell as the slight decrease in ABV seems to have had an effect on the ability to get passed the ethanol aroma.

Nosing together with the 5 minute, there’s a marked difference, especially in that trademark berry aroma from new make in general.

Palate: Still nice and buttery, chocolate and berry. Now with more smoke prominence. There’s still a kick, but it’s not the pure ethanol of the 5 min, more cask strength, which is my sweet spot! Strong green apples, zesty!
A bit like a fruit pie with some pure alcohol poured over and set alight! In the end, I caught pineapple cubes too.

Finish: The finish is sweeter, more confectionary than the 5 minute one, More tropical fruits too. Prefer the finish on this one, thicker and fruitier. The smokiness disappears before the finish for me.

Overall: Better balance, more tropical notes and the smoke more evident. A nice drink in its own right. Sweet icing sugar finish and warming of the internals!

Kilchoman New Make spriit 45 minute:

Nose: There’s a pattern here! heheh The balance continues to improve. Now it’s starting to resemble a very faint sherried islay. It’s a little white wine’esque. Lots of grape for me. It’s a bit more herbal I think, also, custard?

Palate: More balanace than the first 2 samples, with everything playing a more equal part, with herbs now a factor.

Finish: Dark fruits, metallic tinge and buttery chocolate.

Overall: A thicker spirit with more dark fruits and butteriness. There’s also more herbs and savoury notes, not present in the 5 or 25-minute samples.

Kilchoman New Make spriit 90 minute:

Nose: By comparison, the 90 minute seems very tame! If new make can be delicate, then this is delicate. Sweet pastries and floral notes.

Palate: The 90 minute has all of the elements from the first 3, but subdued and balanced. I guess that’s logical?!

Finish: Sweet finish with those grapes and white pepper. A warming finish from a well-balanced new make.

Overall: The easiest sipper I’d say. Lowest ABV allows for more aromas and flavours to be quickly accessible.

Overall thoughts: So to recap, for me. From the 5 min to 90 min. The berry element normally distinguishing ‘new make’ reduced as the time icreased, while the balance and herbs increased. The 90 min was the most ‘complete’ of the 4 but I prefer the 5 min purely for the berries.

Kilchoman New Make spriit Combined:

Nose: Very strong ethanol! This reminds me of the cask strength Vit Hund from @MackmyraUK, maybe even stronger! We’ve created a beautiful monster! I don’t get any smoke now, mostly berries and herbs, a nice balance though.

Palate: All the fruits with a copper tinge, probably the ABV. So warming and friendly for, what I assume, is a very high ABV.f

Finish: Hot spicey, but with the berries supporting balance.

Overall: Bottle that and I’ll buy it, great new make!

Kilchoman new make (63% ABV) is available from Royal Mile Whiskies. It’s rare and only a 5cl sample for £45!

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