There have been two releases of Kilchoman’s Machir Bay and this is the first. While the bottle label does not specify the year, the box does. The second release came a year later in 2013. I don’t really keep up with distillery news and so I’m not sure whether the Machir Bay series is intended as an ongoing regular expression until they get to whatever their regular age stated release is going to be, or what the relationship is between this and the vintage releases. If you know please chime in below.
This runs between $50 and $60 in most US markets which puts it slightly above my proposed price ceiling for young NAS whisky.
Kilchoman Machir Bay, 2012 Release (46%; from my own bottle)
Nose: As seamless a blend of sweet vanilla and phenolic smoke as you could imagine. Some lemon too and some fine ham. Gets saltier as it sits (sea salt crystals) and there’s a tiny bit of rubber mixed in with band-aids. Water pushes back the phenols just a bit and makes it a touch creamier.
Palate: Starts out sweet as on the nose but when the phenols hit they bring a fair bit of tarry smoke with them, and some ink. Nice mouthfeel. More lemon on subsequent sips. Not a whole lot else going on but what there is is very nice. Water pushes the tar back here too but also throws off the balance.
Finish: Long. The tar slowly subsides but the smoke lingers for a good while getting ashier as it goes. With time the acid begins to hang out as well.
Comments: This is as representative an introduction to Islay peat as the Laphroaig 10, Ardbeg 10 or Caol Ila 12, and despite it being much younger than those three heavyweights I’d put it up there in their weight class (it is, of course, also slightly more expensive than those three). There’s not a tremendous amount of development (very little in fact) but this is a good, easy drinking smoky whisky. One to drink while watching tv or reading a book. I’d hold the water.
Rating: 85 points.