By Father John Rayls
Kilchoman Sanaig is named after a rocky inlet northwest of the Islay distillery. According to the distillery manager, John MacLellan, “Sanaig is a bold marriage of sherry and bourbon cask maturation. It is both a continuation of the classic Kilchoman style people know and love as well as a development fans of Kilchoman have yet to experience.”
Kilchoman is Islay’s smallest distillery, but it has global aspirations. This particular offering is comprised of whisky aged four to five years, half in Oloroso sherry casks and half in bourbon casks. The whisky is then bottled without chill-filtering and no color added at 46% ABV. However, the label does not show its age and it’s offered as a no age statement (NAS) whisky.
The distillery intends this as a permanent offering alongside its Machir Bay. Following its initial release in France, Sanaig has gone worldwide.
The look in the glass is of a dull Fall oak leaf color of golden yellow with a modest tint of copper. Bright light brings out the brass highlights. The legs are thin and somewhat loose. The sherry influence is apparent but reserved. On the nose, there are notes of light fruit and floral over the obvious light smoke. It creates a medicinal experience that is still subdued, but medium in intensity overall.
Sanaig has a lightly creamy mouthfeel, with most of the action taking place at mid-mouth. It is a very short experience, with light floral and reticent fruit immersed in an overall medicinal experience. The smoke is always present, but it’s not overpowering.
The mid-to-long finish kicks in almost immediately. It continues with the medicinal theme with some white pepper adding some serious punch. It finishes with some real heat and encompasses the entire mouth even out to the lips. It comes in a few waves which definitely keeps your attention. Smoke is present throughout the finish and comes with some light sweetness that is just slightly off center with some ashiness. It is a bit dry and you experience it even down the throat.
I would encourage you to consider experimenting with various food pairings and especially with some dark chocolate. You may be greatly surprised by how Scotch is not just for after dinner.
It’s now available from $63.00 to $75.00 from various retail outlets.