...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Kilchoman Machir Bay Cask Strength, UK Tour 2015

(Kilchoman cluster homepage) 

Starting in 2014 Kilchoman released limited edition cask strength versions of their main expression, the Machir Bay. They continued these special releases until 2020 when Machir Bay Cask Strength entered their standard range. Like yesterday's 2014 bottling, this 2015 was part of an annual Land Rover-sponsored UK marketing tour.

Like the 2014, this is allegedly from a single cask, likely a sherry butt, yet the outturn was significantly different; this release included 648 bottles, while the previous year had 468. The ABVs were nearly identical, 59.0%abv for this one, 58.8% for 2014's release. And while the 2014's box referenced 5 and 6 year old whiskies, the 2015 box has no age statement. And unlike the 2014, the 2015's labelling has no mention of casks. I doubt this sudden lack of disclosure is some sort of conspiracy, rather it's just a bummer.

As I'm doing with all five of these MB CSes, this whisky will be compared against itself, full strength versus MB's usual 46%abv.

At cask strength, 59.0%abvDiluted to 46%abv
The nose beings with vanilla wafers, rooty smoke and beach sand. It opens up further after 20 minutes, as the smoke goes chocolatey and the vanilla shifts to dulce de leche. Hints of anise, rose petals and peach skins settle into the background.Lots of cucumber skin and pears in the early nose. Maple smoke, toasted coconut and salty ocean air appear 20 minutes later. At the 30 minute mark it starts leaning towards dessert wine, maybe late harvest Zinfandel (something I haven't had in at six year, so I dunno)?
A heavy, tangy smoke fills the early palate, with moderate bitterness and sweetness beneath. As it (and the drinker) focuses, notes of lemon bars, minerals and soil appear.The palate becomes very very sweet. The sugar blankets over tangy smoke, horseradish bitterness and peppercorns. Maybe some cherries and flower blossoms in there somewhere.
Lemon bars, cracked pepper, pears and soil fill the finish. The smoke hits more in the aftertaste, chasing the mild sweetnessAs with the palate, the finish goes candy sweet. Hints of peppercorns, chiles and bitter smoke float beneath.


It happened again, though less drastically than with the 2014 release. Diluting the whisky to 46%abv reveals an immature whisky that doesn't really fit the Machir Bay style. This one became incredibly sweet, to the point that the heavy peat levels just crumbled under the sugar. It's a better, and seemingly older, whisky at full power. This also has the loudest vanilla and caramel notes I've experienced in Kilchoman thus far, which keeps it from meeting the 2014 in quality. Like that whisky, this seems like a quirky cask the producers set aside for releases like these.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 85 (when neat)