[Review] Kilchoman - Machir Bay 2014 46%

Another post for peat lovers today. I was recommended this distillery by Rowan in the Whisky shop Manchester after a long chat about Islay peaty drams a few months ago. At the time, they didn't have it on the shelves but I ended up coming across the bottle in Marks and Spencer a couple of weeks later and decided to give it a try.
Kilchoman is located on the western part of Islay. It is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland, one of the most recent as it was only founded in 2005 but most importantly one of the rare which produces its whisky 100% on site, as they say on their website: "from barley to bottling". This means that they grow their own barley which is then malted on their own malting floor before being transformed into whisky. A true "Islay farm distillery"! Their whisky also remains authentic until the end as they bottle it un-chill filtered and without the addition of E150a colouring.
Machir Bay it the name of bay down form the distillery and also the name Kilchoman gave to their core expression bottling. The bottle I have is the 3rd release, the 2014 bottling.

This bottle is a vatting (mix of different single malt casks) of 5 and 6 year old ex-bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry butts, so it is still a very young whisky, and it is bottled at 46% ABV. When I first broke the seal and pour myself a decent dram, I could smell this youth and even more after my first sip. To be perfectly honest, I was left slightly disappointed after my first dram as I remember mainly peat and alcohol of my first experience -please bear in mind that Machir Bay is amongst the first few bottles I bought! I left it for a couple of days before giving it another go. My second experience was completely different. I started picking up more flavours and therefore enjoying it much more. Now, the more I drink it and the more I enjoy it!

Nose: Different layers in my mind. First a mix of peat and sea-weed followed by a hint of hay. Then I get some sweetness, vanilla and honey, and some citrusy notes. After a couple of minute I think it gets more floral with hints of lavender and even sweeter with some strawberry notes.

Palate: The sweetness comes first with vanilla and honey again, before the citrus kicks in and finally of course the salty peat.

Finish: Warm and lingering in your mouth with a combination of sweet and smoky peat 

With water: I find the addition of a few drops of water slightly dissipates the peat and opens up the whisky further, making it sweeter both on the nose and the palate. 

I still struggle to understand why my first experience of Malchir Bay did not impress me. I might have tasted it in the wrong mood or at the wrong time as I do believe many parameters can influence your tasting experience. Or maybe it needed to have been opened for a couple of days for complete enjoyment, I don't know and it doesn't really matter anyway, as I am now loving it!


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