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Wednesday 9 September 2009

A Coming Of Age

As wake up calls go, today is undoubtedly one of my earliest in a long time.

3.30am and I'm blearily wrenched from a warm bed with the prospect of a long drive, followed by 2 flights. No groans from me though. This isn't an ordinary trip.

Today Caskstrength was invited on a blindingly brief trip up to Islay for the official launch of a whisky which has undoubtedly been the talk of most peatheads for many months now.

The event marks the coming of age for Islay's youngest whisky, lovingly made by its newest distillery, Kilchoman.

3 years is clearly a damned important milestone in whisky making for any distillery.
It must have seemed like a lifetime to Anthony Wills and his team, when they embarked on transforming Rockside Farm into their dream distillery.

At last, the dreaming is over and you can almost feel a collective sigh of relief from the assembled crowd in the hall today; The first 'actual whisky' has arrived and representatives from every Islay distillery, as well as close friends and family are here to show their support and good cheer.

The release of pressure for Anthony Wills was clearly visible, as he made a hugely emotional speech about the rise of the distillery. It can't have been an easy ride and, in his own words, they have had to 'eat, sleep and drink Kilchoman' to make it work.

But today, it's all about the drinking- and glasses of Kilchoman 3 year-old are proudly piped into the barn, after a rousing introduction from whisky legend and all-round raconteur Charlie MacLean.

As i'm handed my glass, Charlie's historical stories are still resonating profoundly. Many years before this momentous occasion, the very parish of Kilchoman could well have been Scotland's 'cradle of distillation' - in a sense making this a perfectly timed renaissance...

Kilchoman - 3 Year Old - Single Malt - 46%

Nose: Extremely clean, with a very zesty, grassy quality, followed by a waft of youthful peat, some iodine and lots of medicinal character. With a little water, fruity notes emerge - perhaps a faint hint of banana?

Palate: An immediately warming and fruity mouth feel, with no alcohol burn at all. Adding a little water brings through some cream toffee, followed by sharper lemon zest and sherbet. Remarkable depth for a 3 year old whisky, that's for sure.

Finish: As you'd expect lots of fresh, clean notes and a lovely lingering young peat as the palate dries.

Overall: Well, there we have it- Finally Kilchoman have reached the point they can say: 'This is our whisky'- and what a whisky it is too. It has all the fresh, clean elements of young single malt which I love, but maps out just what a tremendous whisky this will become in the future. Something i'm very much looking forward to trying.

Huge congratulations - it was definitely worth the wait.