Kilchoman Machir Bay

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Distillery/Brand: Kilchoman | Region: Islay | ABV: 46% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 90

Review
I’ve just got back from a very interesting Japanese whisky tasting event. Some good classic Japanese whiskies (Nikka from the Barrel, Hakushu 12, Yamazaki 18, to name a few) coupled with some delicious food made for an extremely satisfying evening.

But I decided to leave early and come back home to the Kilchoman Machir Bay as my last expression of the evening.

Kilchoman and I have a history. Three years ago I tasted a couple of young releases in the presence of Anthony Wills (founder of said distillery) and it was all I could do to prevent my self from spitting the liquid back out in the glass.

This was followed by a three year program on Kilchoman abstinence which was eventually broken by the Kilchoman 2013 Small Batch Release finished in Oloroso sherry casks.

I was floored. What an absolutely amazing whisky.

Anthony Wills here is another apology from me for writing you off.

This got me interested in other, newer, Kilchoman releases and when I heard good things about the Machir Bay I just had to get my self one of their dumpy bottles.

Machir Bay 2014 is a vatting of 5 and 6 year old ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry butts and is bottled at 46% ABV

Nose: Very sweet peat. Sugar cane. White wine. Chardonay. Very tart. Crisp. Fresh white oak. Fennel. Lime. Raspberry. Cumin. Cedar plank. Vanilla. Let it breathe and white dough comes wafting through. Finally pineapples. White grapes. A very fresh and lovely nose.

Palate: Very smooth. Extremely smooth to drink. Coffee. Apricots. Pears. Peat. White grape. Black peppers. Macaroon cake. Cumin seeds. Very palatable.

Finish: Smooth. Peat. Mint. Oily. Cumin. White melon lozenge.

This is another extremely accomplished spirit from Kilchoman. Wonderfully smooth and completely thought through.

Rating: 90

Kilchoman 2013 Small Batch Release

Kilchoman Small Batch Release 2013 Sherry
Distillery/Brand: Kilchoman | Region: Islay | ABV: 58.2% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93

Review
So this is what happened. Around three years ago (in 2011) our local distributor organized an evening with a certain Anthony Wills of Kilchoman.

Having read interesting things about the distillery (it being 100% Islay – from growing it’s own barley, malting it, distilling it and maturing it on the tiny island) I decided to pick up two expressions before even attending the evening – a sherry finish and a bourbon single cask both 2011 and both around 5 years of age. As yet unopened.

The two that I tasted that evening with Anthony were, frankly, not to my liking at all. In fact they were quite less than ordinary. One was a Summer 2010 Release and the other introduced only as a special bottling for the Dubai Duty Free which I think was also a 2010 release.

Anyway both were quite terrible and I decided to write off the distillery scoffing at their plans to market such young whiskies. I just assumed that it was the lack of maturation that was responsible for the quality or lack thereof.

How wrong I was.

My curiosity was aroused recently when the Loch Gorm and Machir Bay started receiving rave reviews and so when I spotted this 2013 Small Batch Release sherry finish sitting on a friends’ shelf I decided to pull it out for a swig.

Distilled in October 2008 and bottled on 30th November 2013 this five year old spirit is served at a cool 58.2%. After 4 years in first fill bourbon casks it’s finished in Oloroso and is bottle no 87 of 1000.

Nose: Peat. Cinnamon. Orange marmalade. Nutty peppers. Sherry. Hint of iodine. Bay leaf. Wood shavings. Mild fennel. Feels perfectly balanced with the just the right amount of sweet and spice with a nice bay leaf twist.

Palate: Simply stunning. Oily with lots of sherry and peppers. Red spices. Cumin. Clove. Mid-palate it turns sweet. Orange citrus. Fudge. Dark plum. And that crisp betel leaf and acacia mix.

Finish: Long. Minty with a hint of pepper and green tobacco leaf.

A stingy splash of water will make the delivery juicier and brings out the citrus even more so.

A beautiful young whisky. Kilchoman, I owe you an apology for writing you off.

Rating: 93

Kilchoman Dubai Edition

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Distiller:
Kilchoman

Region:
Islay

ABV:
58.7%

Colour:
Pale Straw

Review:
This is a single cask, cask strength malt bottled specially for the Dubai Duty Free. Coming in at a hefty 58.7% it aims to appeal to the serious malt drinker who like his malts tough!

Rather an unusual nose this. Almost like sitting in a wooden cabin after a week of particularly savage thunderstorms. Growing on the walls is a generous amount of mould and that in turn overlooks the moss growing on the floor. By your side sits a chocolate brownie and as you reach out to pick it up you are distracted by a faint whiff of peat coming in through the door.

The palate is like reaching into the back of your kitchen cabinet and finding a box of sugar that’s been forgotten for months. Sugar that is now damp from it’s surroundings. There’s a touch of citrus and a drop of lemon. And then curiously a dash of soy sauce! I have no idea where that came from!

Once again I am convinced that these whiskies are being plucked too young. At about 4 years it had a lot more work to do. I can only hope older age statements age gracefully and the younger ones are slowly faded out as the distillery grows in stature.

But till then this malt is a young child who does not understand what you want. And that’s a little disappointing.

Rating : 82

Kilchoman Summer 2010 Release

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Distiller:
Kilchoman

Region:
Islay

ABV:
46%

Colour:
Pale Straw

Review:
This is Islay’s first farm distillery. Which means that they grow their own barley instead of buying it. The distiller is very very new and, hence, the expressions on offer are almost foetal in age.

This particular one is around 4 years old (though I suspect younger). Quite pale in it’s appearance with runny legs. It’s a mildly peated whisky with a familiar Islay twang to it. Freshly cut grass and wet wood are the first aromas that catch your attention. If you try harder and let your mind wander you can almost discern a fruit basket filled with tangerines and ripe pears. Visit it a third time and traces of Islay start to feature. The familiar smell of iodine and moist sea sand bring you comfort.

Though the aromas are all there they seem somewhat weak and confused. Much like newly born kittens meowing for attention but not getting any.

The delivery is dry and the first sip vanishes from your palate so fast it would make Houdini proud. As you coax a second taste from the glass a bundle of aniseed stuck to red Lozenges come rolling in. The sensation on the side of my tongue signals an element of citrus and finally nuts and small stick of clove tickle the back of my throat going down.

This is a young malt and has yet to define itself. It is desperately trying to build character but seems it is being nipped in the bud much too soon. While this distillery has great promise in the future is it doing itself a disservice by releasing it’s malts too soon?

I certainly think so.

Rating : 82