Kilchoman Loch Gorm (2014 – 2017)

LG 3
Loch Gorm!

Loch Gorm is the biggest lake – or, well, Loch – on Islay. One of its older names is Loch Guirm. The Loch is located on the northern end of the Rhinns of Islay, it’s north of Rockside Farm, which is home to the Kilchoman Distillery. Three streams run out of the Loch: the Saligo River ending in Saligo Bay, the Allt nan Criche ending in the Machir Bay and a third – unnamed? – stream ending in Loch Indaal. So a Loch very heavy on whisky in general and Kilchoman releases in particular. Oh, trout fishing is said to be good there as well…I’d love to try that on my next trip! Any advise anyone?

The first edition of the Kilchoman expression Loch Gorm was released in 2013 as a successor of the Sherry Cask expression. The specifications were pretty similar to the Sherry Cask: about 4.5 years in Oloroso Sherry butts and then finished in Oloroso Hogsheads for six weeks. Originally, it seems to have been the plan to periodically release a more mature version each year but as far as my knowledge goes the specification on the first three releases (2013, 2014, 2015) were all pretty similar. The releases are officially “limited releases” but the limit is about 10.000 bottles each year.

The 2016 Loch Gorm however contained a combination of fresh as well as refill Oloroso casks and was over six years in age. So, it was the oldest Loch Gorm to that date and “limited” to 17 casks worldwide. Resulting in round about 14000 bottles. And the packaging got an update as well. Woohoo. Ok, the last bit was ironic in case you haven’t noticed through the long distance of the internet…

The 2017 release of the Loch Gorm follows the pattern and hence specification of the ’16. The casks used were filled in 2009 and hence are about eight years old. Sadly, there is no information if they used only fresh butts like the first three releases, or if they used first and refill butts like last year. Which I think is a bit sad. It might be just coincidence though. As usual it is bottled at 46% and there are 13500 bottles of the ’17 batch.

I never had the Sherry Cask Release or the 2013 Loch Gorm, so if you got some of that to share, let me know!

It also makes a nice BBQ sauce, I’ll upload the recipe later.

Here are the reviews:

Kilchoman | Loch Gorm 2017 | distilled 2009 and bottled 2017 | Oloroso casks | 46% | €72 in Germany | NCA & NCF

Nose: Dry woody smoke, sweet honey notes, dark fruits, malt, salt, a bit musty peat, and some sulphur / rubber notes

Taste: Sweet entry, a bit watery, sweet peat, dark fruits, salt, some dry smoke, a bit of wood, vanilla, slightly creamy mouthfeel

Finish: Ashy smoke, intense salty peat, dark chocolate, some oak, very powerful and long

Conclusion: This is the first Loch Gorm I reviewed of which I didn’t own a bottle, I had this at the distillery during a tasting as well from a sample I got. My 2016 sadly was long gone before I had the sample, so sadly I couldn’t do a side by side. From my notes, this seems to fall a bit short to the 2016. I have to say that this wasn’t as “deep” as the 2016 though that just might be the time between tasting the two. Still, one of my go-to-bottles but the price makes it hard to justify buying a bottle right now. Maybe when I finished some others.

Score: B+ or 87/100

Kilchoman | Loch Gorm 2016 | distilled 2010 and bottled 2016 | fresh and refill Oloroso casks | 46% | €72 in Germany | NCA & NCF

Nose: Warm, rotten vegetation, mineral peat, nuts and some honey sweetness, as well as Oloroso notes, salt, nutmeg which are a bit strange and some rubber notes…

Taste: Sweet entry, honey/raisins, some ashy smoke (but not overly so), (a bit bitter) peat, milk chocolate, slightly oily mouthfeel and oloroso (sweet fermented grapes, nuts, raisin sweetness, brandy and often a bit of a sulfur note which isn’t present here at all) notes.

Finish: Here the Loch Gorm shines, nice tobacco leave notes, ashy smoke, salt, tar, dark dark chocolate and nice Oloroso notes as well as some drying oak at the end. Love the finish!

Conclusion: It feels like the 2016 version tastes a bit more matured and a bit more solid than the previous releases. But – honestly – I guess that’s because I know it’s older and hence think it should be. Sadly, my 2015 has gone some time ago so the side-by-side is not going to happen. Still, a very solid release and my go-to whisky when I’m not in the mood for cask strength. For me it has the perfect combination of youth and oloroso influence and I love kilchoman and their products. Putting the kilcho-fanboy glasses aside, their releases are priced a bit too high for what they are. These go for about €75 in Germany, I’d happily pay around €50, which feels more fitting to me. Still, being who I am, I’ll probably buy one of these again (and yes, because of fandom, I might actually do so happily) once I lifted my bottle-buying-ban…

Price aside, top of the non-cs class for me

Score: A- 91/100

Kilchoman | Loch Gorm 2015 | 4.5 years| fresh Oloroso casks | 46% | €72 in Germany | NCA & NCF

Nose: Fruity, old leather, smoke, hints of brine, raisins, something muddy as well, notes of chocolate as well as dark licorice are down there too

Taste: The entry is rather neutral at first with a tendency towards burned toffee, then chocolate, smoke, light abv burn, walnuts, oaky, a nice combination of the olorosso influence and the spirit, also a “rotten fruit” note which I also find in Laga 16 for example and would describe as similar to the aftertaste of this which probably doesn’t help you much, so I stick with rotten fruit note 😉

Finish: Smoke – like old cigar smoke, burned notes, chocolate, mocha, hints of the rotten note are carried over into the finish, velvet mouth feel, medium to long length

Conclusion: My favorite everyday Kilchoman. I really like it. Not overly exciting but very far from boring. Well done, misses some edges or surprises to really leave a stronger impression. In many “casual drinking” situations (watching football, having friends over, dinner,…) I prefer this one over the Cask Strength expressions as this is a really nice “sipper”. On the same level as Talisker and/or Laphroaig 10 a very good and very welcome everyday drinker without being to complex or punshy…

Score: B+ or 88/100

Kilchoman | Loch Gorm 2014 | 4.5 years | fresh Oloroso casks | 46% | €72 in Germany | NCA & NCF

This is one of my first couple of reviews from some time ago. I wouldn’t draw the Laphroaig comparison today, I guess…

Nose: Old leather, fruity, light smoke/old smoke, red berries, marker-pen, nutty, peat – like Laphroaig peat without the medicinical aspects,

Taste: “warm” entry, chocolate, slight abv burn, smoke, darkish peat, black toffee (→ if there is such think! Like a combination of licorice and caramel), walnuts, brine

Finish: Long lasting “wide” mouthfeel (don’t ask, I don’t know either I just copy it…), warm, smoke and peat are very prominent in the finish, a little boisterous, little numbing (abv?) (I guess I wasn’t all that CS drinking, Talisker gurgling, fire-breathing then, ha?)

Conclusion: My finishing line on the review was “A non-medicinical Laphroaig – yummie :)”, I guess the yummy part still stands!

Score: B+ so 88+/100

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