Kilchoman Machir Bay 46%

Kilchoman is one of those distilleries to watch… years ago they effectively pushed the boundaries of complexity for a YOUNG Islay whisky. And just keep getting better and better. The travel retail exclusive Coull Point is a current ‘everyday dram’ favourite. I’m eagerly awaiting an opportunity to try their 10 year anniversary whisky.

At the 2015 IWSC Awards, Machir Bay won gold, it also won best Islay under 12 year at the 2015 Scotch Whisky masters and boasts of many other recognitions.

My sampling journey with Machir Bay is:

  • First sampled blind as part of our regular monthly tastings in Sept 2013
  • Part of a delightful food – whisky pairing with Kilchoman Distillery owner and master distiller – Anthony Willis and his wife in 2014
  • During a convivial evening in Singapore in Dec 2015

The Singapore evening prompted me to pull out from our archives the 2013 tasting notes… which was sampled together with the Glenturret 10 year and Auchentoshan 14 year Cooper’s Reserve.

Glenturret, Auchentoshan Cooper's Reserve, Kilchoman Machir Bay

Here is what we found then…

Kilchoman Machir Bay 46%

  • Colour – Light gold in colour
  • Nose – Such a contrast from the earlier whiskies (Glenturret & Auchentoshan), bold, rubber, smoky, burnt wood and ash on nose
  • Taste – Carried through on palate with a woodsy strength tempered by a sweeter undertone, a difficult to identify element like soft over-ripe dried fruit
  • Finish – A lingering rich charcoal finish which prompted some debate on its age – some qualities of a younger whisky yet refreshingly complex as one would more typically find in an older whisky
  • Water – Add a little water and it bloomed further – bringing out both the sweet and spice with the warmth of burnt wood remaining

There was a challenge in pinpointing this offering – the peat was too subtle for a Laphroaig and didn’t quite fit the qualities of other Islay mainstays – however the region was guessed spot on!

Also aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished in sherry butts like the Cooper’s Reserve, it is far more robust. Machir Bay captures the senses and was the clear favourite – even paired post dinner with chocolate. To learn it is available in India and not ridiculously expensive – my oh my we lucky folks!

Each sample was a contrast and unique. Interestingly, all improved with a few drops of water whether lowland (Auchentoshan), highland (Glenturret) or islay (Kilchoman)! Slainthe!

For those curious, here’s what the folks over at The Vault Fine Spirits (based in Mumbai) have to say about Kilchoman Machir Bay:

Machir Bay, a heavily peated (50 PPM) whisky, is a vatting of 4 and 5 year old ex-bourbon casks, with the 4 year being finished in oloroso sherry butts for 4 weeks prior to bottling. Machir Bay was named ‘Whisky of the Year 2013’ at the International Whisky Competition.

Tasting Notes: The Machir Bay starts with a nose of soft cooked fruits with strong peaty aromas which in turn leads to a palate of mixed fruits and vanilla with an intense sweetness before a long lingering finish.

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Kilchoman Coull Point NAS 46%

Kilchoman may be a young whisky distillery, however it is making its mark.

Our merry malt group were fortunate to sample the Kilchoman Machir Bay and 100% Islay… long before I was disciplined about writing tasting notes. We even had an opportunity to meet the master distiller Anthony Willis and his delightful wife for dinner in Mumbai for a marvellous pairing of these whiskies that could hold their own with desi khanna (that’s Indian food folks!).

So on my last chance to grab a bottle at Heathrow Airport, the quite reasonably priced Coull Point caught my eye.

And when we decided the kick off a kick @$$ whisky women evening, it seemed fitting to bring along the Kilchoman.

Kilchoman Coull Point (Table For One)

Kilchoman Coull Point (Table For ONE)

Kilchoman Coull Point NAS 46%

  • Colour – Pale straw
  • Nose – Needs to breathe if just opened (unless you enjoy chloroform!), then the most gorgeous sea breeze, salty, briny, peat, a little sour curd… after some time sweeter fruity elements emerge, a little vanilla
  • Taste – A touch of cinnamon spice then sweet, citrusy or pear, then just cranks up the sweet, replacing the cinnamon spice with cinnamon candy like those red heart candies, increasingly softer the more it opens
  • Finish – Bold yet smooth, a hint of spice and that woodsy peaty breath
  • Water – Yes please! While it doesn’t need it, brings back the zing on the palate and awash of sea breeze
  • Overall – A mighty fine dram. It may be young, but it transports one to a beatifull bonfire on a beach.

I love one of our merry lasses (TableForOne) tweeted about the Coull Point:

This ‪#‎Kilchoman‬ is like a kiss on the beach, snuggled up against a bonfire.

Yup! Sounds about right!

While I will admit at the end of the evening my hand reached for the Compass Box Asyla, it was in part as I knew this baby was coming home with me.

It would be interesting to revisit the Machir Bay, 100% Islay with Coull Point. While my memory was overall positive for the others, I have a funny feeling there is something more with Coull Point… just a few baby steps further into the territory of more complex nuanced whiskies… Bottom line, these folks are on to a good thing!

Coull Point (Whisky Lady)

Coull Point (Whisky Lady)

Like all Kichoman expressions, there is a story behind the name. In this case, Coull Point is half a mile north from the distillery on Machir Bay, described as a “rugged outcrop of rocks on the west coast of the Island.”

The box notes share it is a vatting of 4 to 5 year single malt, matured in fresh bourbon barrels, with the 4 year old finished in oloroso sherry butts for 4 weeks prior to bottling.

What the Kilchoman folks have to say:

  • Colour – Light beech
  • Nose – Soft cooked fruits with strong peaty aromas
  • Palate – Soft mixed fruits and vanilla with an intense sweetness
  • Finish – A classic Islay malt now showing the benefit of additional ageing. A long lingering finish.

And here’s what others say:

Kilchoman Coull Point 46% (Whisky Lady)

Kilchoman Coull Point 46% (Whisky Lady)

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