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Kilchoman Sanaig (2016, OB, 46%)

Last week we hosted a tasting dedicated to the wonderful world of peated whiskies: we tried to share with 30 whisky lovers what’s peat, and how peated whiskies can be quite different from each other. We had Kilkerran, Caol Ila, Longrow and… this Kilchoman!, one of the two members of the distillery’s core range. The name Sanaig comes from a rocky gorge close to Islay’s farm distillery, and it’s a blend of 6 years old whiskies, matured in 30% ex-bourbon and 70% ex-Oloroso sherry casks. We know how the guys from Kilchoman take care of their casks: if you think that they use to get the casks shipped integer, and not dismembered in staves, in order to keep the wood fresh and damp. Let’s see…

N: elegant and open, it’s of course quite sherried: stewed fruit (apples and plums), red fruit, strawberry gums. Quite sugary, and the vanilla from the ex-bourbon hogsheads doesn’t hide, but also quite peaty and smoky (burnt embers, fireplace). We also get a splash of sea water, with some herbal notes really intriguing. Sometimes, you also get some notes of a young and fresh distillate, but if you consider the aromas as a whole… this side doesn’t sound wrong.

P: ok alcohol, where are thou? It seems the abv left the glass: it’s a kind of magic! Again, it shows a great elegance: it’s sweet (caramel, yellow and some red fruits), but it’s deeply balanced by a peaty and herbal smokiness, that gets almost medicinal and bitter. Very intense, a red orange.

F: it perpetuates the three souls that we described, among a smoky peatiness, an intense sweetness and some herbal and vegetal edges.

It’s supposed to be Machir Bay’s alter ego, and it perfectly develops the concept of “sherry cask maturation”, keeping up all the good things of its cousin: it’s sweet, ok, but this is balanced by the roughness of the peat, with a “burnt” and caramelised effect that is really, really convincing. 86/100, ha-ha!

Recommended soundtrack: Rolling Stones – Angie.

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