With a market seemingly bursting at it’s seems, you could be forgiven for being overwhelmed by the amount of whisky expressions you can now chose from. Over the past few years, new entrants to the market from places such as India, Sweden and Japan are gaining plaudits and winning new fans, but the more ‘traditional’ distilleries have pulled up their marketing socks and are fighting their corners too. (Some, it must be said, are successful in doing what they’ve always done. If it ain’t broke…)
What’s interesting over the years of whisky tasting, is the techniques and methods recommended to you.
Joe Hughes, who previously worked for Morrison Bowmore, would have me furiously rubbing whisky between my hands and inhaling the evaporating spirit to give my nose and palate the ‘essence’ of the spirit I was about to try, whereas Richard ‘The Nose’ Paterson will have you introducing yourself to a whisky as you would a beautiful woman: an initial introductory hello, a repeat, and then further conversations (!).
Everyone seems to have a slight variance on what and how. Warming the glass in your hand, covering the top, nose in (but not too far), admiring colour, observing legs – all of this before actually tasting it.
Id never been over enamored with the distillery on my visit several years ago. Although set on the rugged west coast of Islay overlooking Loch Gorm and a stone’s throw from Machir Bay, it just isn’t steeped with history, whitewashed walls and block lettering on the side like I was used to seeing on the island.
However, I approached this tasting evening with an open mind.
Hosted by George Wills, one of three sons of former independent whisky bottler and founder Anthony – all who play a role in Kilchoman.
For those of you not in the know, the distillery started out in 2005 using some old farm buildings (to blend into the Islay countryside) and was the first new distillery to be built on the island for 125 years. Generally speaking, their whiskies are from casks between five and six years old. They do have older casks, but obviously need to preserve their stocks for the future.