About 18 months ago, during my last visit to the wonderful city of Edinburgh, I came across a whisky that I had read lots about but had not yet had the pleasure of tasting. The whisky in question was Kilchoman.
Since being founded in 2005, towards the west coast of the island of Islay, Kilchoman distillery has been gaining quite the reputation for producing quality whisky that's made in a very traditional way. Not only was it the first distillery to be built on the island in 125 years but they are also one of a few distilleries to practice the tradition of floor malting. In addition to these accolades they can also boast that they grow their own barley on site at Rockside Farm which makes them unique in the ability to carry out all aspects of production at the distillery from "barley to bottling".
Having heard these outstanding facts you can imagine how glad I was when I found a bottle of their 2012 Machir Bay release standing proudly behind the bar I attended that evening in Edinburgh.
As you can see the whisky has been presented extremely well with a very handsome bottle and as for the liquid itself it has been bottled at 46% ABV, with no chill filtering and is natural colour.
The make up of the whisky, I'm led to believe, is as follows:
60% - 3 year old, matured in ex-bourbon barrels
35% - 4 year old, matured in ex-bourbon barrels then 2 months in ex-sherry casks
5% - 5 year old, matured in ex-bourbon barrels
After trying this dram there was no question as to what one of the purchases was going to be that I brought home to Belfast.
Here's some tasting notes that I jotted down last week.
Nose - Earthy peat, peat smoke, slight dampness of wet straw. Menthol, pine and some salty lemon citrus. After time a rich buttered toast nose develops along with toasted oats. Also a delicious waft of smoked kippers.
Palate - Arrival is tangy and quite citrus like with more zesty lemon. Then the peat arrives with more turf and now some spice which gives a great warming feeling. This then fades away to sweet malt and more citrus but now more emphasis on fresh orange.
Finish - Slightly drying and once the smoke dies down there's an amazing last surprise of intense orange barley sweets. As the whisky dies away completely there's a light ash aftertaste which is actually very nice.
Overall this is is a fantastically fresh, young, peated dram. A real cracker of a whisky. It has great complexity for it's age and I can advise that with a touch, and only a touch, of water the peat is more subdued and allows the more fresh fruit flavours to come through. I truly can't wait to work my way through more of the Kilchoman range as and when I can.
With regards the Machir Bay range itself, they have since released a 2013 expression and a 2014 expression should be released in spring this year.
Well that's all from me on this bitterly cold winter's morning. Hopefully this review has warmed you all up a bit with thought's of getting back home to a warming winter dram.
Until next time,