10 years ago if I had said the words “Kilchoman Distillery” you wouldn’t have had a clue what I was talking about. However, today Kilchoman Distillery, the first distillery to be established on the island of Islay in over 124 years, is kicking up quite the storm within the whisky world.

The distillery itself, which is one of the smallest in Scotland, is located on a quaint farm on the western side of Islay. The distillery only started bottling single malt whisky in 2008.

In 2012 they released Machir Bay 2012, Kilchoman’s core expression which later that year went on to win the prestigious IWSC 2012 Gold Medal – Best in Class. We remember tasting that very whisky ourselves and being blown away with what this small new farm distillery had managed to produce.

So today we sit down with the next in the line, the Machir Bay 2013 eager to see how this spectacular whiskies character has developed.

The Machir Bay 2013 is a vatting of 4 and 5 year old ex-bourbon casks, with the 4 year casks being finished in Oloroso sherry butts for 4 weeks prior to bottling at 46% ABV.

John MacLellan, the manager at Kilchoman Distillery says;

“The 2013 Machir Bay displays further evolution of the 2012 release, showing more maturation flavours from the excellent cask regime and is softer and more rounded with lovely creamy mouth- filling flavours.”

As we tear away the seal and uncork the bottle an excitement grows. The Machir Bay 2012 was one of that years stand out whiskies for us and has been a personal favourite of mine ever since. Pouring myself a dram, I can hardly contain myself; will my old friend surprise?

Lifting the glass to the nose I am instantly transported to Islay. I am greeted by that classic Islay peat, bold and smoky it lingers yet dancing in the background are some softer fruitier notes. On the palate these fruits get more room to come forward. There is a sweetness, a soothing vanilla which in true Islay style leads to a long and rounded finish.

Having had time to dwell on my thoughts, I would definitely say that the Machir Bay 2013 is still a strong dram.  What I noticed with the 2013, compared to the 2012, is that the finish is harsher; it packs more of a peppery punch. As a fan of big peaty characters, I can appreciate this though and found it to be rather warming; the perfect dram for when the cold Autumn nights start to draw in.

Overall, I would say that my preference still lies with the Machir Bay 2012, but fans of the 2012 and Kilchoman Distillery will in no way be disappointed.

Next time I will be continuing the story of Machir Bay by reviewing the Kilchoman Machir Bay 2014 release!