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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kilchoman Machir Bay Single Malt Whisky | Review

Kilchoman Machir Bay, $56.03/750ml
By John Barecki

Kilchoman distillery is a wonderful new edition to the family of Islay malts now available. Using the term "new" is a rarity in the Islay whisky industry because, before Kilchoman, there had not been a brand new production facility on the island in about 124 years. Since 2005 these guys have been creating something wonderful—even with their "new make spirit," the product not yet three years old and therefore ineligible for whisky designation, the distillers have received high reviews.

Kilchoman produces its malt through a process that you don't see all that often in Scotch production. They are a farm distillery, using grain that is grown on a farm located on site. They employ floor malting techniques used by only a handful of distilleries and they carry out all aging and bottling on Islay. (Some of the distilleries on the island age on the Scottish mainland.)

Machir Bay is the first permanent bottling available from Kilchoman. It is a vatting or "marrying" of 3-, 4- and 5-year-old whisky that has been aged in ex-bourbon (Buffalo Trace) white oak casks in addition to the short 8-week rest in ex-sherry Butts to finish. On the nose, there is a slight heat from the 46% ABV that is surprisingly soft considering the age. Unmistakable peat up front calms down with a nice sweet smokiness, fresh barley and hay, with a slight fruitiness discernable after a short rest in the glass.

On the palate there is a burst of initial peat smoke and citrus, then barley again with a nice sweetness. Just a hint of green quality comes threw but not as much as expected from such a young whisky. A nice vanilla comes out of the bourbon cask aging on the finish, but being that it is young, there isn't a lot on the tail end, just a nice conclusion of all the flavors.

Taking all of this into consideration, I look back on this malt with a true appreciation for the art of whisky making, experiencing the development of something that is wonderful and that will surely impress in the future.

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