Tasting Session – Kilchoman

Kilchoman Distillery – Tasting Evening

We were first introduced to Kilchoman as a distillery when we visited Soho Whisky Club. Keen to sample more of their expressions we joined them for their February distillery tasting. Founded in 2005, Kilchoman was the first distillery to be built on Islay in over 120 years. A small family run distillery, with a 100% Islay philosophy, Kilchoman represents a true single malt whisky all the way from barley to bottle.

The Core Range

Hosted on YouTube the tasting was led by two sons of the distillery founder, George and Pete. They talked us through some of their core range as well as the distillery history. It was fantastic to have the session led by two people so close to the distillery, and their family chemistry was a nice touch; really driving home the small family-run vibe of Kilchoman. The two core expressions we tried were Machir Bay and Sanaig.

Machir Bay

We tried the cask strength version of this with Pour & Sip. It was great to contrast those tasting notes to the standard bottling. Made with 10% oloroso sherry casks there is plenty to go on and letting it breath really added more to the whisky.

Nose: fresh grass, rainy fire, the great outdoors, hints of citrus
Palate: smoked paprika, smokey clothes after a bonfire, more citrus
Finish: clean with hints of peppermint and the smoke turns more earthy

A complex and peaty yet very drinkable whisky. Not as punchy as the cask strength yet bags of flavour and a real tongue grabber. We would recommend this if you want to steer away from cask strength, but still experience those lovely sea-salt notes.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


The other part of their core range, the Sanaig is 70% oloroso sherry finish which really magnifies the fruity notes. Another great whisky from Kilchoman. Rich and plenty of body. hints of spice, nuts and vanilla come together to create a complex yet enjoyable dram.

Nose: dried fruit and vanilla, plenty of woody smoke
Palate: dark chocolate, poached vanilla peach and peppery spice. Peat smoke continues
Finish: smokey, nutty vanilla. reasonably long finish

The colour of the Sanaig is much darker than the Machir Bay due to the higher percentage of oloroso sherry casks. The contrast between these two core expressions, is a fantastic insight into the affects of casks on whisky production. We would recommend this whisky for those that like a sweet note to their peat!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Limited Editions

Over the years they have experimented with a number of different casks, so occasionally they release a limited edition expression. We were lucky enough to try two 2021 releases – the Loch Gorm, and Comraich Batch 4.

Loch Gorm 2021

The Lock Gorm is an annual release that started somewhere around 2012. Fully matured in oloroso sherry casks, the 2021 expression is a combination of 24 casks from 2011 and 2012. Four are refill casks with the majority of the mix being fresh casks. The higher ratio of fresh to refill casks, means there is a really strong sherry influence.

Nose: sea salt, light smokiness, vanilla, creamy, rich, berry fruits, stewed fruits
Palate: sweet, warming, light spice, buttery, rich. married the peat and sherry flavours really nicely. Nutty.
Finish: keeps going, a lot of depth of flavour! fruit compote

Due to be released in March, we are keeping a close eye on the Kilchoman website to make sure we can get our hands on a bottle!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Comraich Batch 4

Something really exciting that Kilchoman have done is pair up with roughly 100 whisky bars around the world to serve their Comraich expression. This is a whisky that is not available to buy retail, so we felt very lucky to try this – especially given the current lockdown situation! Comraich means sanctuary, and the idea is for these bars to provide a sanctuary to enjoy a quiet whisky and relax – what an awesome idea.

Nose: buttery, citrus, lemon, fresh, creamy
Palate: evidently peated – but not an overbearing smokiness. Fruit is big on the palate – almost tropical. really rich
Finish: long, deep, very tasty finish. very smooth, not harsh

The Batch 4 release is made up of three fresh bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace. In comparison to the Loch Gorm this is an all bourbon influence finish. We were really impressed with the freshness and creaminess of this dram, and will definitely be checking out the Comraich bars as soon as we can travel again!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

We had so much fun on this tasting that we have already booked ourselves onto the upcoming April event! Kilchoman is very quickly becoming one of our favourite distilleries with those lovely sea-salt and smokey notes. We’re keen to see the other casks finishes that come out of this distillery, and are particularly intrigued by the tequila/mezcal casks! Let us know in the comments whether you have been to one of the Comraich bars, or plan to in the future?

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