There are some drams that take a lot of effort to like. This can be because the whisky is complex and it needs time to appreciate all that it has to offer, or it can be because despite the qualities of the whisky, you just don’t personally like it.
And then there are the drams that fit you like a glove. Kilchoman Machir Bay is one of those whiskies. I love the understated peats and smoke, which are balanced so well, despite their youth. So when I heard that they were adding a new dram to their core range to say I was excited is an understatement.
Tonight’s dram is the Kilchoman – Sanaig.
This whisky is an Islay whisky, with all that this normally brings. However it is casked and matured in Oloroso Sherry Hogsheads. For those that don’t know, a Hogshead refers to the size of the barrel and contains 432 pints. Kilchoman Distillery, pronouced kilhoman, was only started in 2005, so its whiskies are all still relatively young. It is a relatively small, some say artisan distillery, with a small yearly output.
Appearance: Golden Syrup and Demerara Sugar
Aroma: Raisins, Peat Smoke and Roasted Chestnuts
Taste: Initially velvety smooth and thick. There are those chestnuts that are present on the nose, that are rich and fruity. There is a dark sweetness that is reminiscent of Muscovado sugar and there is a palpable sense of excitement. This whisky enchants from the very start. It offers a sweetness and depth, that almost prepares the mouth for what is to come.
The middle flavour is like fruit cake soaked in smoke. There are notes of marzipan in the sweetness and vanilla. Then there are the fruity notes, which move throughout this dram. However the main, striking part of this whisky is the peat smoke. This is an Islay whisky and of that there is no doubt. This smoke medicinal, yet it is never overpowering. It is tempered and balanced by the sweetness that cuts through the whole dram.
The final notes move toward the top and back of the palate where a wooden, warming quality remains. On the tongue the smoke dissipates and leaves notes of nuts, of caramel and of vanilla.
Mouthfeel: Powerful, but restrained. This is the Karate master of the whisky world.
Overall: This smoky, sweet whisky is so well balanced. It is not overly sweet, despite its thick, syrupy texture and its not overly smoky, despite the medicinal smoke tones. The fire set here could smoke fish, but never burn down a house. I maybe in love with the distillery and you might feel that I over sell it, but this is a great whisky and of that I am in no doubt.
Real Dram Factor: 8.7/10
More Information: Kilchoman Distillery
Purchased: Master of Malt