I work at a liquor store and sometimes I feel like an ass when I someone tells me, "I don't drink anything younger than a 12 year old whisky," because my initial reactions is, "I want to grab you by the collar and shake the Sh#t out of you and smack you in the face!" Then, at that moment, I bite my tongue, thinking that I probably am a condescending jerk, and say, "Ah..okay...that's cool.." and I keep on walking.
There are so many factors in making a whisky stunning and, as you guys know, the older something is doesn't always mean it tastes better. At any rate, my point is, "I FRACKIN' love this Kilchoman Machir Bay," and stand by it 100%. Sure, 60% of the the juice is composed of 3-year-old scotch; 35% is 4 yr old; and the remaining 5% is 5 yr old....but there's something magical and cohesive about this product. Perhaps they're using the "wet barrel" technique, which means they're not breaking down the ex-bourbon casks into staves and shipping them over to Scotland to rebuild them on site. With that being said, I can only imagine that this Machir Bay is able to pick up some of the Buffalo Trace (that's the ex-bourbon casks that Kilchoman is using for this one) characteristics. Keep in mind, purchasing whole barrels and shipping them over to Scotland as a whole barrel is quite an expensive process. However, the Kilchoman Team has decided to go this route and carefully choose their casks because they believe that when the barrels are in excellent condition, one can release the scotches at a younger age.
Nose (Neat): Robust brininess on the forefront with an underlying hint of rose petals. When I pull the glass forward towards my nose, the salty smoke becomes more apparent and when I pull the glass away from me the aroma softens, giving me notes of sweet bread. When I lean my left nostril into the glass, I get milk chocolate! MM! How lovely!! My right nostril, on the other hand, picks up alcohol (oh! the burning) and smoke.
Flavour (Neat): There's some spice here and it tastes creamy, too. There are undertones of sweetness here that holds the smoke and char together. Towards the end, the sugar tones move away and the char comes forward. The orange zests tingles the sides of my tongue, while the aroma of smoke hits my nasal cavity quickly.
Finish (Neat): Coffee. The smoke rides here for a few minutes, but agave syrup kicks in. Burnt sugar emerges 5 minutes later. 15 minutes later, dark chocolate and oak comes out. Damn, this whisky has long finish, but I'm not complaining! ;D 20 minutes in, toasted coffee beans! Holy crap! The finish is still rolling in!!! It's kicking ass here!
Nose with 2 Drops of Water: Saltiness of the whisky comes out and there's a secondary hint of feet. When I pull the glass away from my nose, the scent of coconut emerges. When I pull the glass forward, it has the aroma of toasted grains. Citrus qualities kick in when I lean into my left nostril! Woah! That made me slightly dizzy! Holy crap! When I lean into my right nostril, I get more of a mesquite wood note.
Flavour with 2 Drops of Water: Wow! With two drops of water, it appears that the flavor gets more amped up and robust. It becomes richer and sweeter in the sense that I pick up burnt sugar, the kind you see at the base of a flan. MMM. It's rich and hearty! I actually prefer it with 2 drops of water. The char is still there, so don't you worry about losing that smoke! :D It gets spicy with water, too. It tingles the sides of my tongue and I get a dose of grapefruit on the sides of my tongue.
Finish (Neat): It has a bitter ending, while the char and smoke stay steady. When I hum and exhale, I get a hint of mocha, specifically from an eclair. There's an overtone of orange zests 5 minutes after the finish line.
Overall: This is an absolutely stunning whisky, the tour de force of Islay scotches. (I LOVE everything on Islay, so I'm 100% in when you hand me something from this region). I appreciate it a lot because I think this company is a little bit of an underdog. I also think that this is a great whisky for those who are intimidated by stuff from Islay. Usually, when I hear people complain about peated-style whiskies they say, "UGH! It's too medicinal and it tastes like band aids!" However, just like other types of whiskies, there's a bunch of different types of peated-style whiskies. Different types of peat occur due to the type of vegetation that is found in the peat. For example, at Highland Park, lots of their peat is composed of heather, and heather has the tendency to be floral and sweet. So, Highland Park expressions will be influenced by the characteristics of that plant. On that note, back to Kilchoman, because the sweetness balances out the smoke, I think this is a great whisky for people who are on the fence about smokey styles or who are kind of intimidated to dunk their heads straight into the peated-smokey style whiskies like the Ardbegs and Lagavulins (Ardbegs and Lagavulins are so freakin awesome). Now, I LOVE my super smoky whiskies from Ardbeg and Lagavulin. You name any stuff from Islay, I'm 100% in!!! This particular one is a great introduction to those who are new to this region because the smoke and sweetness compliment each other. There's just enough smoke to lure you and just enough of that confectionary note of burnt sugar to bring both characteristics together. I hope you will enjoy the Machir Bay as much as I do! ^^ It's a drink that makes me smile because I get to share it with my friends and I see their eyes light up. One person said, "I'm surprised I like this! Usually I hate peated whiskies! I never thought I'd like something like this, but I do and I want my own bottle." It feels good when I see their expressions...it kind of reminds me of the time when I gave a Christmas present to my nephews. At first, I thought they wouldn't care. I figured after 2 days, they'd destroy the toys and light them on fire, but I saw the boys' eyes lit up and they said, "WOOOAH! Thank you, auntie!" and it made me happy. I thought, "Oh! This is why people give gifts to little kiddies." Machir Bay makes my heart sing and it brings a smile to my face! ^^ I really, really hope you like it!!!