Review: Kilchoman Machir Bay Islay Whisky

Here it is, at long last, the first general release whisky from Kilchoman, which opened in 2005 as the first new distillery on Islay in 124 years. After years of quarterly “preview” releases, many of which we’ve reviewed here, the distillery is putting out a general release spirit with ongoing availability. (Machir Bay is one of Islay’s busiest beaches.)

This whisky is a vatting of 60% three-year, 35% four-year, and 5% five-year old malts, matured in ex-Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels. The 4-year-old portion of the whisky was finished in Oloroso Sherry butts for 2 months. The final product is unchillfiltered and bottled at 92 proof.

If you’ve experienced any of Kilchoman’s earlier releases, you know what you’re in for here. A brisk whiff of smoke is followed by lots going on in the glass. Sure, peaty experiences abound, but also oranges, fresh grain, wood, and a touch of gingerbread. It’s still very light, driven more by the smoldering embers on the finish than the fruit that you get up front, but as a Scotch story and a work in progress (older spirits will continue to be added to the vatting as this evolves), it’s one that’s certainly getting there. Could use more Sherry on the finishing.

B+ / $55 / kilchomandistillery.com

kilchoman machir bay Review: Kilchoman Machir Bay Islay Whisky

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