Tomorrow's tastings will feature Val in San Francisco pouring the debut of Kilchoman's Machir Bay which we will have in stock at that time for $53.99. He might be a few minutes late, so stop by at 5:15 or so. Redwood City will feature Christine Cooney pouring her selections of Cognac, Armagnac, and Calvados. Both are free of charge!
So here's the deal with the Kilchoman: if you had asked me yesterday what my favorite single malt of 2012 has been so far, I would have said it's a toss-up between the Glenmorangie Artein and the Bruichladdich 10. Now, however, there's no doubt in my mind about what the best malt of 2012 is so far: it's the Kilchoman Machir Bay. Having just re-tasted it with Val a few minutes ago, I can pretty much say that I screamed like a little girl meeting Justin Bieber after tasting it. It's that good. I don't make any guarantees that you'll think it's that good, but something about Kilchoman really hits me on that upper level. This is supreme whisky.
It's no secret that we're big fans of Kilchoman here at K&L. Our recent visit to the distillery on Islay really opened our eyes to the incredible job this small farm is doing. Kilchoman is truly a tiny operation, producing on one spirit still and malting whatever they can inside their humble barn. Because of their small-scale operation, the cost of production is higher so prices for Kilchoman so far have not been inexpensive. Getting to taste the new-make whisky right off the still, I can firmly say that, in my opinion, there is no higher quality of peated whisky being produced anywhere else. The attention to detail and the hands-on distillation Kilchoman is able to give its single malts is making a world of difference. Every release has been better than the last, albeit extremely limited in supply. Finally, however, the time has come when this small farm is ready to introduce a full-time, affordable, house recipe, rather than another pricey single barrel release. The Machir Bay is not only incredibly delicious, it's a huge victory for a distillery that had to overcome huge obstacles. At $54, this is what Kilchoman fans have been waiting for - incredibly delicate, finely-tuned flavors of soft smoke, sea salt, creamy vanilla, and butterscotch. It's a more subdued version of their high-toned barrel expressions, but it's still very much Kilchoman. Think Bruichladdich meets Lagavulin.
The Machir Bay is a vatting of 60% 3 year, 35% of 4 year and 5% of 5 year old single malt, matured in fresh bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace. The 4 year old portion was finished in Oloroso Sherry butts for 2 months. I can't stress enough how fantastic this whisky is. It's not for the super-esoteric whisky geeks, this is as accessible as peated whisky gets - soft and gentle, yet loaded with smoke, with a high-toned cinnamon finish, and a mouthful of butterscotch when it's all said and done. It's absolutely stunning and there's no amount I wouldn't buy of it. If we could buy 2,000 cases, I would.
I don't usually throw my weight behind something this strongly. I'm always passionate about booze, but I can clearly say that this really caught me off guard. I had to keep tasting it again and again to make sure I wasn't simply over-reacting. If you don't believe me, I don't blame you. However, tomorrow night at K&L San Francisco, you'll have a chance to decide for yourself. Kilchoman has now proven to me that producing high-quality whisky for five solid years can result in whisky more impressive than what other distilleries achieve in ten to sixteen. Even if you don't think it's as good as I do, I think you'll still be shocked at what they've been able to accomplish.