Scottish Leader Review

“I Won’t Follow This Leader” 

Country: Scotland 
Brand: Scottish Leader
Produced by: Ian MacMillan, Master Blender at the Deanston Distillery
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS 
ABV: 40 %
Date: 22/07/2014

Colour: Copper

Nose: When I first opened the Miniature and poured me a dram I was not at all impressed with the Scottish Leader's Nose. I'm not quite sure exactly what it was I was smelling but it reminded me of slightly rotten Vegetables, Grass and Plants. Like a Garden Mould. After an hour or so in the glass this smell slowly faded away. I then found Acetone, Refill Oak, young Grain Alcohol and distant hints of Toffee and Citrus. Poor stuff! I bought this miniature in Scotland during my trip in May. Either in Elgin or Bowmore.

Palate: This is not a Crowd Pleaser! I found Young Grain Alcohol, Burnt Sugar, Nut Shells, Caramel, Pepper and distant hints of Nougat, Smoke and Honey.

Finish: Short, Bitter-Sweet and slightly Spicy with Sugar, Grain Alcohol, Toffee, Green Wood and Pepper. 

With added Water the Nose gets a little friendlier and Grain Alcohol and Biscuit arrive in the forefront. But Palate and Finish become a far cry from what I call a tasty Whisky.

Rating: 66.5

Nose: 17 - Taste: 17 - Finish: 16 - Overall: 16.5

General Remarks: The Brand Name Scottish Leader already exists for a long time. Today it's part of Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd, the owners of Deanston, Tobermory, Ledaig, Bunnahabhain and the Black Bottle Blend. The first two form the heart of Scottish Leader, a Blend with 25% Malt - and 75% Grain Whisky (Wheat and Corn). The Scottish Leader contains whiskies that have matured from 3-8 years. It's very popular in Scotland but it's also exported to 60 countries. It's not expensive at an average price of 21 US Dollars.  

Drinking Experience Neat: Below Par

Conclusion: It's sad that large quantities of Malt whisky disappear in these Blends. Maybe something was wrong with my miniature. But as it stands, this was not a pleasant Tasting Experience. Not for me at least. I do realise that many people simply can't afford expensive whiskies but once again I would like to point out that for the same amount of money you are better served with a simple Bourbon. If you like Bourbon of course. Because Scottish Leader will not do as a sipping whisky. At the most, you can use it for mixing I suppose. I will try to get another sample in order to verify my current impressions. But as it is, I can not recommend this Blend.

Jan van den Ende                                                                 July, 2014

Kilchoman Loch Gorm Review

“A Dirty Peat Is A Joy Forever”

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2013
Type: Single Malt Whisky 
Age: 5 Years
ABV: 46 %
Date: 20/07/2014

On Our Way To Kilchoman!

Colour: Deep Gold/Amber

Nose: Give Loch Gorm some time to open up. Otherwise you might think it's only about Cold Smoke and Wet Clay. The Peat is there of course as you would have expected. Initially, I also find light Tar, light Burnt Rubber, Salt and some Medicinal tones. After a while Sweet Toasted Barley shows itself, accompanied by Orange, Pineapple, Dried Fruit, light Heather Honey, light Sherry, Nuts, Oak, Lemon Peel, Demerara Sugar, Herbs, Mint and BBQ. The Alcohol is not yet fully integrated. It's a young Islay and the Smoke and Peat are still very present and tend to overwhelm the Sherry tones. Loch Gorm is more about Spirit and less about Wood!

Palate: Young and not overly complicated. I find some Sweet Dark Red Fruits, Orange, Dirty Clay, light Tar, Spilled Gasoline, Medicinal Tones, Ashes, Toffee, Sweet Barley, Dried Fruits, Lemon, Salt and Pepper.

Finish: Quite Long and slightly Dirty with Wet Earth, Ashes, Smoke, Salt, Cocoa Butter, cheap Milk Chocolate, Citrus, Pepper and Menthol.

Truly a Farm Distillery!

The Loch Gorm opens up with added Water. Red Fruit, Orange and Peat start to appear more. You also get a bit of extra Vanilla. You can experiment with a few drops here if you like. As usual I prefer sipping it neat.  

Rating: 85

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

Some of the Good Stuff!

General Remarks: The Loch Gorm was named after a Peaty Loch near the Distillery and was launched in 2013 as a new series of Sherry Cask matured Kilchomans. It's Uncoloured and Not Chill-Filtered which is great! It matured for a little over 5 Years in Ex-Oloroso Butts and was finished for about 6 weeks in Ex-Oloroso Hogsheads to gain extra flavour and colour. This First Edition was distilled in 2007 and bottled in 2013. Only 10.000 bottles were commercialised. The Loch Gorm 2013 is not cheap at around 100 US Dollars. 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: After tasting the Loch Gorm I had the same feeling as when I was testing the Machir Bay last year although the latter possesses a different flavour profile and matures in different casks. But both are young, edgy, nervous and even a little rough sometimes. I can sense the inherent quality of the spirit but I strongly feel it needs more time in the cask to calm down and gain more balance. And when comparing the two mentioned young Kichomans I find that the combination of Ex-Bourbon Casks + Oloroso Finish seem to better enhance the Kilchoman spirit than mere Oloroso Casks. Back to Loch Gorm. If you don't like peated whiskies, you should leave this Kilchoman alone for the time being.  
However, if you like young Dirty Islay and smelling your soccer shorts after a disputed game played in muddy field conditions, Loch Gorm is just the Malt you are looking for. As for me, I really look forward tasting a 12 Year Kilchoman further on down the muddy road!

The Very Nice Visitor Centre!

Some Data: Kilchoman means Coman's Church. The Distillery is located at the Rockside Farm, some eight and a half miles from Bowmore. It is the newest distillery on Islay and was founded in 2005 by Anthony Wills. Kilchoman has its own Floor Maltings. Around 30% of the yearly Barley necessity is produced on the farm. The rest comes from Port Ellen. The Distillery possesses a stainless steel semi-lauter Mash Tun, 4 Wash Backs (Stainless Steel) and 1 Pair of Stills. In 2013 they produced around 140.000 litres, all sold as Single Malt.

The water for the distillery is sourced from the Allt Glean Osmail Burn. The Distillery usually opens from Monday - Friday from 10.00 to 17.00 hours and, depending on the season, also on Saturday. The standard tour costs around 4 pounds. You can also book the 5 days "Distillery Experience" where you can learn about - and participate in every part of the process from malting until bottling.

A Detail of the Visitor Centre!

We visited Kilchoman on Friday May 16, 2014. Thanks God, it was one of the few sunny days during our trip. Because of the good weather we decided not to do the Standard Tour but instead tour the Island a bit more. I'm glad we did that because it was the last sunny - and dry day during our holidays. We took some nice pictures that I will post later. We did have a good lunch at the nice Distillery cafe and had a look at the excellent Visitor Centre and Shop. I also became (for free) a Club member of the Distillery. The shop offers only one miniature, the Machir Bay. The Kilchoman people we met were all very friendly and it's easy to feel at home there. Hope to return one day to do the Tour! 

Jan van den Ende                                                                July 2014

The Writer Becoming a Club Member!