Sunday, 13 March 2016

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2014 European Tour

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

Kilchoman's 2014 European Tour was a commemorative bottling to the European Tour by George and James Wills, sons of Kilchoman Distillery founder Anthony Wills. I blogged about their passage through Belgium in September 2014. How time flies...

The European Tour Bottling was essentially the classic Machir Bay expression but bottled at cask strength instead of the normal 46% ABV. The Machir Bay was the first whisky that became a regular expression and part of Kilchoman's core range. The name comes from the desolate but beautiful Islay beach near the farm distillery.

Identity Card Kilchoman Machir Bay 2014 European Tour

  • Kilchoman European Tour 2014
  • Cask strength version of Machir Bay 2014
  • Alcohol: 59.2% ABV
  • Vatting of 5 and 6 year old single malt
  • 90% ex-bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace, 10% oloroso sherry butts
  • Price: 53.00 

Tasting notes

Colour: Gold yellow. It's a little bit darker than the standard Machir Bay, not unusual if you keep in mind this one is a cask strength version. Thin and fast legs after swirling.

Nose: The trademark stewed fruits and smoky bacon are present. Baked coconut, white chocolate mousse and lemon rind. Nougat packed in a fruity smoke bomb. Play-doh and oranges. A very, very faint hint of ammoniac en chlorine. Honey and vanilla are the perfect counterbalance for these aromas. Napoleon candy.

With a teaspoon of water there's even more swimming pool chlorine and notes of salted lemon. Salted pistachios. I even scent some burned gasoline and rubber. Lovely brutal stuff with a sweet character!

Taste: The initial sip is a movie-like flashback of sweet, sour and peppery flavours. Lemon sour and popping candy. Roasted almonds and honey. Young and wet wood twigs on a campfire.

Water makes the salinity dominate. For a little while at least... And then we're back to the peppery and sweet flavours. Fruit candy. Haribo and tobacco. Salted lemon and pepper.

Finish: As dry as a bone with lots of crushed black pepper and coarse sea salt. White chocolate with almond crunch. A very long cigar-hinting finish.

Kilchoman European Tour Bottling 2014 Machir Bay


This is by far the best Kilchoman I've tasted. Period. And living proof whisky can be quite stellar at 5 to 6 years of maturation in quality casks. If the whisky is good you don't need to hide the age behind fancy Gaelic names or even more daft storytelling, it simply speaks up for itself. Another old marketing adage proven to be right: "Great products sell themselves (if the customer finds out about your brand - the purpose of this European Tour)."

Kilchoman got that message right from the start. Let's hope its Islay neighbours take note...

I paid €53 for a bottle. I regret not having bought two or three to stash away for the future. Shops are selling what they kept back now double or triple the price. Alas, the mechanics of a market.

A photo posted by Gert Claus (@tastydram) on

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