I’m going to cover this more in the Kilchoman Machir Bay 2016 review below, but I’m utterly shocked at how much this reminds me of early 2000s Ardbeg. On the flip side, current Ardbeg 10 with its spirit heavy nature reminds me of very early Kilchoman. Both use the same spec malt of 55 pm peated which come from the same sources, but after that they head down quite different paths.
In Kilchoman’s Words: Kilchoman Machir Bay 2016
“Named after the most spectacular beach on Islay, Machir Bay is the flagship of the Kilchoman range. Machir Bay is a unique and complex combination of ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry butts. Machir Bay was first launched in 2012 when it won the prestigious IWSC 2012 Gold Award and more recenty in 2016 it was awarded best Islay Single Malt at the IWC. “Machir Bay has a beautiful balance of vanilla, smokey butterscotch and rich fruitiness each contributing in complexity and combining to create a truly unique Islay dram” John MacLellan, Distillery Manager”
If you’ve never had the chance to try early 2000s Ardbeg give this a try and you’ll get an approximation. Though if you want to know what REALLY old Ardbeg tasted like you need to try one of the first-fill single sherry cask releases. I’ve been fortunate to try some REALLY old Ardbeg and it aligns fairly well with my memory, but I’m not the only one to think that. The notion arrived one night while drinking with some Plowed Society members and those guys have had a LOT of old Ardbeg, they even have a yearly event that shares the name; Ardbegeddon so if there’s anyone’s opinion to trust on the matter it would be them.
On to the Kilchoman Machir Bay 2016 review!
Kilchoman Machir Bay 2016 Info
Region: Islay, Scotland
Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon (90%) ex-Oloroso (10%)
Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color
Kilchoman Machir Bay 2016 Review
Peat, oil, malt, honey, graham, fruit, brine, buttered bread and a touch of spice, minerality and toffee.
Peat, oil, orchard fruit, graham, spice, honey, brine, minerality, vanilla taffy and a bit of nuts and toffee.
Long smoky fade of fruit, vanilla taffy, malt, honey and olde candy.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Great balance, round full body and a slick velvety feel.
Kilchoman Machir Bay 2016 tastes like older Ardbeg. Not older as in age, but like what Ardbeg 10 tasted like 10+ years ago. That was the first thought that ran through my head when I smelled it and that thought was cemented in my brain after I tasted it. And with that cementing came the realization that this will now be my go-to peated whisky because I’ve become a bit obsessed with it.
For clarification’s sake, yes there is a difference when I sit down and taste this Kilchoman Machir Bay 2016 next to something like my Ardbeg L03. The Athe profile isn’t exactly the same with the Ardbeg being a bit darker and earthier, but the similarities between them are astounding. The play between fruit and peat and the overall crispness of the whiskies are so in alignment I’m simply amazed. Kilchoman just keeps getting better.
SCORE: 90/100 (A-)
Kilchoman Machir Bay 2016 Review - Score Breakdown
- Nose - 91
- Palate - 91
- Finish - 91
- Balance, Body & Feel - 90
Kilchoman Machir Bay 2016 is gooooooood.