"This showcases the distinct distillery's style, but it has not yet reached its full potential"
(Photo from Whiskybase)
Named after one of the beaches on Islay, apparently the most spectacular, this standard expression is influenced by a combination of bourbon and sherry casks with the focus on the first. Their website displays the process of whisky making beautifully, which takes in their case about 34 days from harvesting to distillation. I have had this bottle already for some time in my collection and tasted it many times, obviously. This version was bottled in 2013, which means that it was matured for about 4 years. Newer versions contain spirit that was matured up to 6 years. The Machir Bay is part of Kilchoman’s standard range, which also include Sanaig and annual releases of Loch Gorm and 100% Islay.
Initially a big whiff of smoke accompanied by lots of beach sand and salt. I guess you could say that we indeed arrived in Machir bay. There are hints of multiple herbs, a clear sense of vanilla and an honest scent of malt in the back. However, the aforementioned smoke, sand and salt are the main players. The smoke is reasonably acrid and leans firmly towards smouldering cigarettes. I also detect a strong salmiac salt note in the nose. Over time the nose tends to become sweeter with salty caramel, vanilla, almonds, and a salted nut mix.
Strong entree with salt, cigarette ashes, and coal dust. Much smokier than the nose suggested. Blackened meat after an unattended barbecue roast and lots of salmiac salt in the aftertaste after each sip. There is some sweetness that accompanies the smoke and salt, which provides a necessary balance. In fact, it tastes like one of those popsicles that I often had as a child with a sweet coating and salmiac salt centre. A slightly drying aftertaste that is fairly sweet, much sweeter than the entree. It also adds a few drops of lime juice, which are very refreshing, and add some more depth to the palate.
Although I find it still a bit to youngish, this standard expression of Kilchoman does show that the distillery has created its own style different from its Islay neighbours. I feel that the depth and balance are not yet optimal, but using longer maturated spirit in the follow-up versions of Machir Bay might have improved that. I will certainly keep following the distillery towards its full potential.
A bottle of this was purchased from
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •