Built in 2005, Kilchoman (pronounced kill-Ho-man) is one of the newest distilleries in Scotland and the first distillery to be established on Islay in over 124 years. Kilchoman is the ultimate farm to bottle distillery – they grow their own barley on a plot of land next to the distillery.
Founder Anthony Willis choose Rockside Farm specifically because the area was renown for growing the best malting barley on Islay. 30% of the barley used in annual production is grown on the farm, the balance is purchased from Port Ellen Maltings. Both malts are kept separate throughout the production process. Kilchoman boasts a special release 100% farm grown barley bottling for those of you love farm-to-table products.
While most distillers purchase their malt from large commercial maltings, Kilchoman is one of six distilleries in Scotland that carry out on-site traditional floor maltings. They distill the mash in custom made stills that are among the smallest in Scotland. Maturation takes place in either first fill bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace of first fill oloroso sherry butts from Spain. While they do have special releases, their core expression is Machir Bay. The 2012 edition is a vatting of three, four and five year old whisky aged first in ex-bourbon casks then finished in Oloroso sherry butt for two months.
Nose: smoky, cured ham, lemon, salty sea breeze
Mouth: very complex, warm, oaky, bittersweet, spicy peat, anise, slight treacle (sweet syrup)
Finish: the finish drags on for a while, remarkably not harsh at all, pine, honey
Verdict: My first taste of Machir Bay was in Hong Kong upon the strong recommendation of my friend. I was blown away and promptly purchased a bottle when I returned to New York. Machir Bay 2012 is wonderfully complex for such a young whisky. This is not the peatiest whisky from Islay but its probably one of the best composed drams that I’ve tasted. It’s hard to believe that the oldest whisky in this vatting is just five years old. This is a very well crafted spirit and I’m looking forward to trying the 2013 version which is slightly older (combination of four and five year whisky). If you’re a fan of Islay whiskies I would highly recommend Machir Bay to you. Kilchoman has made me a believer and I can’t wait to try the entire range of their portfolio. I can foresee good things coming from this small farm distillery.
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