Let’s do one in honour and memoriam of a very fine man. Just days ago John McLellan, Kilchoman’s distillery manager and native Ileach, lost his battle with cancer. I had spoken with owner Anthony Wills just five or six months back at a local festival here and was told that John was not well, but they were hoping to see him back again as soon as possible. Those that met John will know what a loss this is to the whisky world. A kind man with a really big heart and warm smile. Seeing his signature on this bottle is reminder of the fleeting nature of our time here. Rest easy, John. Thanks for all.
With that said, let’s keep it short and sweet in regard to the bottle at hand. We’ve drunk plenty of Machir Bay in our time. In fact, even going so far as to review it here a wee while back. So let’s see how things hang together for the sake of consistency. Also assuming this is still about a five year old malt, give or take a little on either side.
Coming into this one I’d expect nothing but a scrappy young thing with big billowy smoke and an almost aggressive edge. That’s perfectly in my wheelhouse though. And that’s exactly what we get here. Peated Islay whiskies work well at young ages, as we’ve discussed here before.
My wife came home with this bottle for me a couple days back. She’s sweet that way. I’m currently in early planning stages for my next trip over to Islay this September, so perhaps it was the constant mentions of peat mecca that had her feeling generous. Who knows. Either way, timing is everything. Fun to revisit this one.
Nose: Young, feisty, farmy peat. A cola-like sweetness. Smoky and briny. Citrus, salt and pepper. But with all these ‘sharp’ notes it’s still somehow soft. A touch of rubber and new make spirit. Not too nuanced and complex yet, but it will be in time.
Palate: A very faint touch of peach. A lot smoke. Ash. Anise. Burnt apple pie. Pepper. Dirt. Tastes of the new make, but that’s ok here. The Kilchoman new make is nice indeed. Easy drinking youth.
Thoughts: An absolutely beautiful strapping young malt. And unquestionably Kilchoman. Great testament to the ways in which young whisky can be brilliant.
– Images & Words: Curt