Review – Kilchoman Distillery, Sanaig
As we move towards the end of the year we are rationalising our whisky shelf, and bottle killing to make space for potential Christmas presents! Our most recent bottle to join the #bottlekill club is Kilchoman’s Sanaig; their sherry-heavy core expression.
The first distillery to be built on Islay in over 120 years, Kilchoman was founded in 2005 by the Wills Family. Built on a 100% Islay philosophy, they run a farm-to-bottle production, producing Scotland’s only Single Farm Single Malt whisky in the form of their 100% Islay range.
Having become somewhat of a cult-phenomenon amongst whisky lovers, they are known for their experimental finishes and maturations. These are periodically released alongside their core four of Machir Bay, Sanaig, Loch Gorm, and 100% Islay.
First Impressions and Reflections
A part of the Kilchoman core range, Sanaig is named after a small inlet on the Atlantic coast of Islay. A vatting of both bourbon casks and Oloroso sherry, Sanaig uses a higher proportion of sherry to magnify the rich dried fruit notes. This is in contrast to Machir Bay, which uses a larger proportion of bourbon to draw out vanilla and citrus notes.
It goes without saying that the Kilchoman bottle is pretty unique. We love the way that they look on our shelf; self-confident, and powerful. Additionally, the purple on the label and gift-box of the Sanaig is not one we see frequently, helping it to stand-out amongst a see of browns and golds.
Internally, the deep liquid is also very appealing. The high proportion of Oloroso sherry casks really darkening the colour in contrast to the Machir Bay.
Nose: plum, honey, peat smoke, salinity, orchard fruits, vanilla, slightly floral, summer grass, dried fruit, citrus zest
Palate: poached stone fruits, vanilla cream, dark chocolate, light charcoal – salty peat smoke, baking spices, and honey nuts
Finish: sweet BBQ undertones, with salty sea-air, citrus zest, quite a dry finish
This dram has a great balance of fresh citrus and rich dried fruit. It’s a peated whisky that works well all year around, and definitely feels like a shelf staple.
We think it’s pretty clear by now that Kilchoman is one of our favourite distilleries. However, we are split between which bottle of their non-limited core range is our favourite. The Sanaig is perfect for those who prefer a sweeter whisky, and the Machir Bay is a great for those who love a fresh, zesty taste.
As it stands at the moment we have over 10 bottles of Kilchoman on our shelf, so we won’t be jumping to automatically replace the Sanaig. That being said, we would highly recommend it as a shelf-staple for anyone who has a spare slot on their shelf! Looking forward to Spring 2022 Kilchoman will be releasing another set of limited expressions. We’ve got our fingers crossed for a Calvados or Madeira cask!
Looking for our other #bottlekills? You can see some of our recent ones below!