Kilchoman Sanaig Review

“Kilchoman’s Softer Side”

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Kilchoman Sanaig
Type: Single Malt Whisky 
Age: NAS (4-5 Years)
ABV: 46 %

Colour: Golden Sunlight with a touch of Orange (Natural Colour)

Nose: The Earthy Peat and Smouldering Embers are there but in an inoffensive way. Quite subdued for a Kilchoman. The Ex-Oloroso casks do make themselves known with subtle hints of Nuts and Dried Fruits like Apricots and Raisins. The overall feeling is Young, Mineral, Floral and slightly Yeasty. I also find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Coffee (Latte), Grass, Herbs, Honey, Band-Aid, Wet Rock, Shell Fish and Bacon on the BBQ, Apple, Grapefruit, light Rubber and Varnish, Orange, Leather, Aniseed, Pepper, Menthol and Cinnamon. Despite the Young age and the solid ABV, the Alcohol is well-integrated. 

Palate: Young, Bitter-Sweet, slightly Medicinal and Spicy with Earthy Peat, Ashes, Sweet Barley, Bread Dough, Toffee, Pear Drops, Grass, Straw, Herbs, Oak, Coffee (Latte), Grapefruit Juice, Lemon, Pepper, Nutmeg and hints of Dark Chocolate, Leather, Varnish and Dark Red Fruit.   

Finish: Quite Long, Spicy and a bit Edgy. Sugary Sweet at first but a little Dry towards the end when a light Bitterness pops up. I find Dirt Road, Ashes, Toffee, Vanilla, Caramel, Dried Fruits, Salted Nuts, Herbal Tea, Lemon, Orange, Chilli Pepper, Menthol, Aniseed and hints of Bitter Chocolate and Dark Red Fruit. After some minutes a Plastic-like aftertaste appears.  

I added a bit of Water and on the Nose I get visions of a Peaty Perfume. Maybe an idea for a new After-Shave or Shower Gel. Kilcho for Men! But Palate and Finish do no benefit from the added Water. Better sip it neat! 

Rating: 83 

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 20.5

General Remarks: Kilchoman is a farm Distillery on Islay. Around 30% of the yearly Barley necessity is produced on the farm. The rest comes from Port Ellen. It is located on the West Coast and was founded by Anthony Wills in 2005. The Kilchoman Sanaig was launched recently, at first only for the French market. In the meantime it's available in other European countries as well. It's generally regarded as a Sweeter version of the Machir Bay. The latter matured in Ex-Bourbon casks and received a Sherry Cask finishing of around 2 months. The Sanaig (named after a creek close to the Distillery) matured in a 50-50 mix of Ex-Bourbon Casks (Buffalo Trace) and Ex-Oloroso Casks. The Sanaig I'm tasting today was bottled in 2015 without Chill-Filtration. The Barley was peated at 50 PPM. The Sanaig will be part of the core range and currently sells at an average 65 US Dollars (November 2015).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good 

Conclusion: When compared to the Machir Bay, I find the Sanaig Sweeter and less Edgy, making it a more accessible Malt. This knife cuts both ways of course. Peat Bomb lovers will find this Kilchoman slightly mainstream while newbies on the Islay scene will judge it more favourably. It certainly is reasonably priced for a Kilchoman. I must confess I'm not really convinced by the Sanaig. It's an okay Malt but it didn't click and I found it to be a bit boring. For that reason I gave it a slightly lower score than the Machir Bay. Not that the latter is a better Malt. I just found it to be a little more Alive and Kicking!  

Jan van den Ende                                                            November 26, 2015

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Compass Box The Lost Blend Review

“The Phoenix From The Flame”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Highlands/Islay
Brand: Compass Box The Lost Blend 
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: NAS 
ABV: 46 %

Colour: Bright Yellow Gold (Natural Colour)

Nose: Light and Fresh. The Earthy Peat, Ashes and Charcoal Smoke are there but certainly not in an overwhelming way. They sit sort of comfortably in the background. The principal Aromas are Sweet Barley, Caramel, Orchard Fruit, Herbs and Spices. I find Green Apples, Pear Drops, Chardonnay, light Vanilla, light Beeswax, Grapefruit, Lemon, Oak, Resin, Toast with Salted Butter, Fresh Herbs, Pineapple Juice, Ginger, Aniseed, Mint and Cinnamon. After a while I get some Floral Perfume. The Alcohol is reasonably well integrated. The ABV is spot on. On the Nose the Lost Blend leaves a pleasant, well-balanced impression.   

Palate: Good and Spicy delivery. Again, the ABV works well. I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Golden Syrup, light Honey, light Earthy Peat, light Ashes, Wax, Pepper, Ginger, Aniseed, Nuts, Pineapple Juice, Citrus, Green Apple, Pear, Fresh Herbs and light Menthol.  

Finish: Bitter-Sweet and Warming but on the Short Side. I find Sweet Barley, slightly Sour Green Apples, Vanilla, Soft Smoke, Dusty Road, Oak, light Pepper, light Cinnamon, Ginger, Gewurztraminer and Peach Preserves. Dry in the end.  

No need to add Water to the Lost Blend.   

Rating: 87 

Nose: 22 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

General Remarks: In 2001, Compass Box launched their first Single Malt Blend called "Eleuthera", made with 80% unpeated Highland - and 20% peated Islay Malts. In 2004, Compass Box had to withdraw "Eleuthera" due to the fact that one of the key Malt components was no longer available to them. For almost 10 years the company tried to recreate the Blend but without success. In 2014 however a limited edition of only 12018 bottles was released under the name The Lost Blend. It contains Malt from Clynelish (80%) and Caol Ila (20%) as well as a very small quantity of approx. 19 Year old Spirit from the Speyside Distillery Allt-A-Bhainne that matured in American Oak Barrels. This limited edition was bottled in August 2014 without Chill-Filtration. It sells at around 100 US Dollars (November 2015).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. Well-Balanced.   

Conclusion: I have never tasted the "Eleuthera" but I'm glad I bought a sample of the Lost Blend. Compass Box did a good job in (re) creating this Malt. It's Fresh, Crisp and Well-Balanced. Apparently the Clynelish and the Caol Ila complete each other well. It's difficult to ascertain the influence of the small quantity of Allt-A-Bhainne. On the Nose there's a good balance between the Fresh Fruit, Fresh Herbs, Spices, Peat, Ashes and Smoke. On the Palate it's more Spicy than you would expect after Nosing. Personally, I liked it a lot. The Finish could have been a bit longer in my opinion. But all in all this is a very good Blended Malt that I can fully recommend. Despite the fact that it's quite expensive! I hope that Compass Box will be able to maintain it in its Product Line in some form or the other. 

Jan van den Ende                                                            November 23, 2015