...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Kilchoman Machir Bay Cask Strength, 2020 edition

(Kilchoman cluster homepage)  

If you're getting tired of this series-within-a-series, I can sympathize. While I'm glad it's reaching its conclusion, this series has begun to reveal the limits of ~5 year old peated whisky.

Kilchoman gave up in 2020, though not like the rest of us. They decided to release the Machir Bay Cask Strength (MBCS) worldwide. (Though not as part of the regular rotation.) The data out there are limited, but I'm guessing the outturn is larger than the previous one-offs. The last "Original Cask Strength" release utilized quarter casks, while this Machir Bay Cask Strength has regular(?) bourbon and sherry casks. There's some Xmas stuff on front label, and these words on the back label:

Before reducing a batch of our Machir Bay to its regular bottling strength of 46%abv, this release was bottled at cask strength...

If you've read any of this week's reviews then you'd know my skepticism about the first part of the above statement. But I (seriously!) would just like some good whisky, so here it goes. Again. For the last time.

At cask strength, 58.6%abvDiluted to 46%abv
There's just a wall of butter and caramel blocking everything else in the nose for the first few minutes. Peat and anise break through first, then popcorn (with butter and caramel, natch). And brown sugar. Salty ocean air, yeast and apricots show up after 30 minutes.The nose starts with caramel corn, simple syrup, ash and something metallic. It needs some time, then the coastal note drifts up from the background, followed by moss, cinnamon and roses.
Peated Robotussin (I'd drink it) in the palate. Charred beef and ash. Hints of roses, mint and caramel in the background. Starting at the 20 minute mark the whisky takes a turn towards tequila (joven, maybe?), with a little bit of lemon and brown sugar.Ooookay, this palate is big on vegetal, smoky silver mezcal (yes I know tequila and mezcal's relationship, thank you). It gets sweeter with time, until the simple peat smoke takes a backseat to a lump of cinnamon and golden raisins.
It finishes sweet and ashy. Pears and tequila. A squeeze of lemon.This finish reads hotter, somehow, with a mix of bitter ash, golden raisins and lemon juice.


One of the reasons I was drawn to Kilchoman's single malt was because it was not reminiscent of mezcal. I like mezcal, but all those baby Taliskers on the market burned me out on mezcal-esque scotch, so that's a problem here. BUT, thanks to too many bad decisions in college, super young tequila makes me queasy, so I actually prefer the diluted version of this MBCS this time. The nose was the best part of each version of the malt, so good that it keeps the whisky from dipping into the C-grade range.

None of this is a ringing endorsement of course, so the Machir Bay run ends on a wobbly note. Because these whiskies were more educational than I'd expected, and we're near the cluster's halfway point, I'll try to post a recap/assessment of the eight whiskies before continuing on. Happy Friday!

Availability - a few dozen USA and Europe retailers
Pricing - $70 - $85
Rating - 81