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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Kilchoman Machir Bay Cask Strength, USA West Coast Tour 2017

(Kilchoman cluster homepage) 

Continuing this cluster-within-a-cluster of Kilchoman Machir Bay Cask Strength releases, I bring thee the 2017 USA West Coast Tour bottling.

Unlike the 2014 and 2015, reviewed on Monday and Tuesday, this 2017 was not from a single cask. The packaging shows no age statement and says the whisky is "a vatting of specially selected bourbon and sherry casks" with an outturn of 840 bottles. Because "vatting" is referenced, one wonders if Kilchoman had stopped the sherry cask finish approach to Machir Bay at this point and were marrying casks and parcels instead. One may also wonder if this 60%abv release, like the 2014 and 2015, was ever intended to be part of the regular Machir Bay batches, or if Kilchoman is just using the "Machir Bay" name because it has become familiar to their customer at this point...

At cask strength, 60%abvDiluted to 46%abv
The nose starts out very hot and tight, requiring 20+ minutes to open up. Then one finds nut butters, ocean-y peat, fuji apples, pineapples, marshmallows and a hint of band-aids.The nose is close to newmake again, with a surprising whiff of barley. Along with the ocean-like peat note comes plenty of sage smoke. Toasted coconut and grilled pear appear in the back.
Compared to the nose, there's a lot more fruit in the palate, specifically oranges and tart stone fruits. Cayenne pepper and Campari flow through the midground, with a coastal smoke integrating well with it all.The palate reads hot, bitter and peppery. Some lemon and pencil lead show up here and there. But it's very raw, almost a palate killer.
Gentle peat lingers through the mildly sweet finish, but grapefruit and Campari looms above it.The finish nearly mirrors the palate with heat, pepper, bitterness and a hint of lemon.


The theme continues: Don't reduce this stuff to 46%abv. In fact, this whisky gets damned near unpleasant at that strength. Keep it at full power where the palate's fruit and smoke win the day. Its nose is the edgiest and least mature of this set so far, but it's still plenty of fun once it opens up. I wouldn't mind knowing the actual age of this whisky's components, because it seems much closer to 3 years than the 5-6 years of my 2018 bottling of actual Machir Bay. All three of these CSes seem like they'd burden a 46%abv batch of Machir Bay, and all work much better at cask strength. Let's see how tomorrow's whisky pans out...

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 83 (when neat, at least 10 points lower when diluted)

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