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Monday, February 22, 2021

Kilchoman Machir Bay Cask Strength, UK Tour 2014

(Kilchoman cluster homepage) 

As part of a wee marketing tour of the United Kingdom in 2014, Kilchoman released a small parcel of bottles (approximately one sherry butt's worth) of full-powered Machir Bay. They did so again the following year with a slightly larger outturn. They came to The States with a larger bottle count in 2016 and 2017. It 2018, it was a "European Tour" with an outturn three times that of the American releases. By 2019 they had a multi-continent Meet the Peat tour, and its cask strength Machir Bay was now an unspecified "limited" edition. In 2020 they gave up the whole "tour" theme, instead making Machir Bay Cask Strength part of the regular range a worldwide release.

I have the pleasure of reviewing FIVE of these annual batches this week. Each whisky will be tried at full strength and the regular Machir Bay strength of 46%abv. As a gift to us all, the intros will be smaller than this one.

Starting with the first one on the left, the Land Rover (sponsorship!) UK Tour 2014 edition. The box does say the whisky is a mix of five and six year whiskies matured in bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry butts. It was bottled at 58.8%abv, with an outturn of 468 bottles.

At cask strength, 58.8%abvDiluted to 46%abv
The nose starts with dense peat smoke gradually adding in nuts, oats, apricots and candied citrus peel. Milder notes of tar and briny shellfish linger in the background.A little zanier here, the nose rides close to newmake with some ethyl, roots, shellfish and manure. It also has brighter notes of anise, candy canes and an almost lemony smoke.
WOW, the palate. Possibly the peatiest Kilchoman I've had yet. It's also filled to the brim with black walnuts and truffle salt. Bitter herbal liqueurs and a citrus sweetness ease in after some time.The palate becomes sweeter and bitterer, with much milder smoke. Feels close to newmake again, with black peppercorns, dried lavender and dried oregano. A little bit of orange candy in the background.
It finishes with a balance of peat and sweet. Plenty of the truffle salt remains. Hints of lemon candy and black walnuts appears from time to time.It finishes very sweetly, with little bits of dried herbs, bitter smoke and tangy chiles. But mostly sugar.


I'm having a difficult time believing this parcel was destined to become part the regular Machir Bay outturn. Though dynamite at full strength, it's scattered and immature at 46%abv. Perhaps the distillery became aware of this circumstance then elected to set it aside for a bottling such as this. As bottled, the black walnuts, citrus and truffle salt work delightfully in the palate, and all the nose's elements sing in unison. I have little positivity to share about the 46%abv version other than it has the occasional weird charm. Keep this one neat.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 89 (when neat)