Kilchoman Machir Bay (70cl, 46%)


The Kilchoman distillery (pronounced Kil-ho-man) is a distillery that produces single malt Scotch whisky on Islay. The distillery is situated on the western side of Islay, near the small settlement of Kilchoman. The distillery began production in June 2005, and was the first to be built on the island of Islay in 124 years. The distillery uses barley grown on site at Rockside Farm and malted at the distillery, as well as malt from the Port Ellen maltings and releases separate bottlings depending on the source of the grain.It is one of only six Scottish distilleries still doing traditional floor-maltings, and will be unique in having all parts of the process – growing barley, malting, distilling, maturing and bottling – carried out on Islay.


The distillery first filled casks on 14 December 2005 and the distillery began bottling 3-year-old single malt in September 2009. Kilchoman also intends to release 5, 8, 10 and 12-year-old bottlings. The first official Kilchoman, the “Inaugural release” was released in 2009 and the first 100% Islay whisky released in 2011. The whisky produced by the Port Ellen maltings are peated to the same levels as Ardbeg, while the malt peated on their own floor maltings will be approximately 25 ppm.


Machir Bay is a vatting of four and five year old whisky matured in first fill bourbon casks, married and then finished in Oloroso sherry butts for four weeks before bottling in early March 2013 This edition is described below

The whisky was poured in to a Glencairn glass, a half teaspoon of water was added to this dram to compensate for its relative youthfulness and it was left to develop for ten minutes. The colour was gold.  On rolling around the glass a curtain is left on the side of the glass with medium length legs sliding down the inside.

The nose has huge hits of citrus and dried fruit intermingling with vanilla cream. Layers of fresh peat smoke strengthen as the nose develops.  Very pleasant and surprisingly citrusy

The whisky is full bodied and heavy with flavour. Initial bursts of vanilla dried fruit and demerara sugar combine with the fresh warm smoke. This whisky is exceedingly well balanced and no one flavour dominates. Gentle sweetness and a slight bitterness becoming drier with a coastal feel in the mouth.

The finish is long and drying with initial vanilla and stewed fruits to the fore going to sweet peat smoke. A little oak bitterness appears!! Very smooth !!

Machir Bay is an extremely well made offering which has been bottled at 46% giving it added complexity and flavour. What makes this whisky stand out is the balance !! There is no one flavour overpowering any other thus enabling the senses to all that is contained in the whisky.

I cannot recommend this edition enough !! Well done Kilchoman !!



Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old (70cl, 46.3%)




Deriving from the Gaelic for ‘mouth of the river’, Bunnahabhain was founded in 1881 by William Robertson and brothers James and William Greenless. A very smooth, easy-drinking Islay malt, Bunnahabhain (pronounced ‘BOO-na-HAven’) closed and reopened twice during the twentieth century and eventually production was limited to a mere few weeks annually following Edrington’s 1999 acquisition of previous owners Highland Distillers.

In 2003, Edrington sold Bunnahabhain to Burn Stewart Distilleries for £10 million. Included in this deal was the popular blend Black Bottle, whose contents feature a quantity of spirit from every distillery on Islay. Today, production stands at 2.5million litres a year. Of this, 21,000 casks are kept at the distillery for maturation and the resultant whisky will be used for the Black Bottle blend and for bottling as Bunnahabhain single malt. The rest of the outturn is sent for maturation elsewhere. In relative solitude, Bunnahabhain is the Northern-most Islay distillery. It sits in a large bay to the North East of the isle, drawing its water from the Margadale Spring.

A giant leap forward for Bunnahabhain 12yo, this edition was launched in summer 2010 with a jump in strength to 46.3% and a declaration of no chill-filtration and no added colouring. Enormous credit goes to Burn Stewart his faith in his craft for this offeringbunnahabhain-12-year-old-whisky

The whisky was poured in to a Glencairn glass, no water was added to this dram but it was left to develop for ten minutes. The colour was  gold with a slightly oily look on rolling around the glass. A curtain is left on the side of the glass with medium length legs sliding down the inside of the glass.

The nose is soft and fresh with with notes of mint and cut grass. This is followed by notes of the sea  . As the nose develops the notes of sweet sherry and sultanas  come forward more intensely with hits of malt. Subtle and complex

The taste is  very smooth, whith a overtone of sweet sherry. Like the nose it is soft and complex with hints of hazlenuts and malt mingling in with dried fruit and a little peat smoke. The location of the distillery no doubt contributes to the coastal feel in the mouth.

There is feeling of soft gentle seabreeze as one  tastes this whisky

The finish is long and sherried  going to dried fruit and malt. It reminds me of grandmothers fruit cake!!. A touch of brine appears. Very smooth

As an Islay whisky Bunnahabhain can come as a surprise to many. Athough coming from Islay this offering  is not as peaty or smokey as other distillery offerings from the island. Bearing that in mind it is an excellent extremely well balanced offering which has been bottled at 46% giving it added complexity and flavour


Caol Ila 12 Year Old (70cl, 43%)



Caol Ila is derived from Gaelic Caol Ìle for “Sound of Islay” (lit. “Islay Strait”) in reference to the distillery’s location overlooking the strait between Islay and Jura a spot originally chosen partly because of the clean water from Loch Nam Ban which still provides its main supply.

It was founded in 1846 by Hector Henderson and is the largest of Islay’s eight distilleries with a capacity of three million litres a year .

At first the distillery did not fare well, and changed hands in 1854 when Norman Buchanan, owner of the Isle of Jura Distillery, took over. In 1863 the business was acquired by Bulloch Lade & Co, of Glasgow, traders in whisky stocks. By the 1880s over 147,000 gallons of whisky were produced there each year.

In 1920 Bulloch Lade went into voluntary liquidation, and a consortium of businessmen formed the Caol Ila Distillery Company Ltd. In 1927 the Distillers Company acquired a controlling interest in Caol Ila, and in 1930 Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd obtained ownership of all the shares. The distillery closed during World War II, from 1942 to 1945, because of wartime restrictions on the supply of barley to distillers. From then, production continued until 1972, when the entire structure of the distillery was demolished. A larger distillery was then built, designed by George Leslie Darge in the same architectural style as many of his others with his trademark glazed curtain walls to the still houses, and production resumed in 1974. The company eventually became part of Diageo.

Caol Ila is one of the lighter Islay whiskies, pale in colour, with peaty, floral and peppery notes. In addition to being sold as a single malt, it is used heavily (around 95% of their production) in blends such as Johnnie Walker and Black Bottle.


The whisky was poured in to a Glencairn glass, no water was added to this dram but it was left to develop for ten minutes. The colour was dark gold with a slightly oily look on rolling around the glass. A curtain is left on the side of the glass with medium length legs sliding down the inside of the glass.

The nose is fresh with with notes of mint and cut grass. This is followed by notes of sea salt and a smooth smokiness as you would find on a high quality smoked ham . As the nose develops the notes of smoke and cigar  come forward more intensely with hits of lemon grass and dark spices.

The taste is  very smooth and elegant , an oily feel on the palate with the smoke peodominant , but there is a freshness to the smoke. There is no overpowering feel as the smoke blends with notes of tar and hints of cloves and citrus. Perhaps hints of mint rock come through.

The finish is long with christmas spices going to cracked pepper followed by the fresh smoke. Very smooth

This is Caol Ila’s entry level single malt launched in June of 2002. Bearing that in mind it is an excellent extremely well balanced offering that manages to marry together freshness and smoke much more successfully than many of its competitors

Thanks to Kvarterskrog Florens for the whisky



Bowmore 37 Year Old 1968 (70cl, 43.4%)

Islay, whisky


Even the title of this review has me astir. To be honest it’s mostly just me gushing and I’m not even sorry for doing so. When you’re lucky enough to find a dram this special, you can try not to get caught up in the hyperbole of it all but I found that impossible.

The bar I found this in keep the bottle in a safe and serve the dram with a reverence which only adds to the theater of the whole experience!

As I carried the the whisky back to my seat guarding it like the most precious of jewelry I felt both exited and  scared of the journey which lay ahead!


The whisky was poured in to a Glencairn glass, no water was added to this dram but it was left to develop for ten minutes. The colour was dark gold with a slightly oily look rolling around the glass. A curtain is left on the side of the glass with medium length legs sliding down the inside of the glass.

The nose is rich with with notes of apricots and raisin. This is followed by a lighter note of sea salt and vanilla. As the nose develops the notes of dark fruit come forward more intensely with hits of cooked fruit and rich baking spices.

The taste is again very rich with oak and treacle coming forward. This is followed by dark toffee and victoria sponge. As the flavour evolves we see this move more toward fruit notes with apple pie and soft summer berries which come through at the end of the taste.

The finish is medium long with bread spice going to vanilla followed by dried fruit and apples.

It’s difficult for me to finish this review as it’s something I almost didn’t want to end. Of course this whisky is fantastic and of course if you see it and it’s in your budget you should try it. If you are someone who drinks whisky with huge peat content and live for that smoke, this is maybe not for you.

The whisky is excellent but not at all what was expected. There is a little trace of a traditional Bowmore but allows the other more complex and almost hidden sides of this whisky to come through.


LAPHROAIG 18 Year Old (70CL, 48.0%)

Islay, whisky


The Laphroaig distillery was established in 1815 by Donald and Alexander Johnston.

The distillery stayed in the family until 1954 when the last of the Johnston family died and it was left to one of his managers, Bessie Williamson.

The distillery was sold to Long John International in the 1960s, and subsequently became part of Allied Domecq. The brand was in turn acquired by Fortune Brands in 2005, as one of the brands divested by Pernod Ricard in order to obtain regulatory approval for its takeover of Allied Domecq.

Fortune Brands then split up its business product lines in 2011, forming its spirits business into Beam Inc. Beam was then purchased by Suntory Holdings in April 2014.
Laphroaig has a unique flavour, one which provokes highly polarised opinions I have heard it described from wonderful to horrible from exquisite to disgusting but I always find it has great charm and is always challenges the senses.
The water source for Laproaig is The Kilbride Dam which feeds 3 wash stills and 4 spirit stills producing 2.6 million litres a year.


The whisky is a golden colour on rolling around the glass is a touch syrupy and leaves long legs around the glass. I added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for 10 minutes.
The nose is heavy in rich smokey and spicy aromas. This is a beast of a whisky bottled at 48% but is in no way harsh, this is Laphroaig but in a sophisticated guise!! The aroma pushes immediate smoke followed by citrus, apples, a little cinnamon & mace, followed by even more smoke!

The flavour has peat smoke but not in any harsh way, demerara sugar, vanilla a little ginger and spice follow the smokiness. These brash rich foreground flavours give way to sweet malt and then brine which reminds me of a cold smokery with the wood and peat elements remaining prominent.

The finish is very long with malt, oak and with a sweet spiciness which combines wonderfully with the peat smoke. The whisky is very complex and smooth.

This is a wonderful whisky which would be a great surprise to those expecting ultra peat and smoke. the flavour is more complex and sophisticated than I expected and is definately a dram to savour!

This is available from Master of Malt HERE!

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2007 (70cl, 50.0%)

Islay, whisky


Bruichladdich was built in 1881 by the Harvey brothers: William, John and Robert on the shore of Loch Indaal, on the Rinns of Islay, the westernmost part of the island. The Harveys were a dynastic whisky family that had owned two Glasgow distilleries since 1770. Using an inheritance, the three brothers combined their talents to build a third distillery—Bruichladdich—designed by John, engineered by Robert, and financed by William and other family members. At the time, the distillery was a state-of-the-art design unlike Islay’s older distilleries, which had developed from old farm buildings. It was built from stone from the sea shore and has a very efficient layout, built around a large, spacious courtyard.

The uniquely tall and narrow-necked stills were chosen to produce a very pure and original spirit, the opposite of the styles produced by the older farm distilleries. Bruichladdich was run by William Harvey, after a quarrel with his brothers before the distillery was even completed, until a fire in 1934 and his death in 1936. Over the next forty years it subsequently changed owners several times as a result of corporate take-overs and rationalisation of the industry, narrowly avoiding closure until 1994, when it was shut down as being ‘surplus to requirements’.

The distillery was subsequently purchased by a group of private investors led by Mark Reynier of Murray McDavid on 19 December 2000. Jim McEwan, who had worked at Bowmore Distillery since the age of 15, was hired as master distiller and production director. Between January and May 2001 the whole distillery was dismantled and reassembled, with the original Victorian décor and equipment retained. Having escaped modernisation, most of the original Harvey machinery is still in use today. No computers are used in production with all processes controlled by a pool of skilled artisans who pass on information orally and largely measure progress using dipsticks and simple flotation devices.

On 23 July 2012, it was announced that Rémy Cointreau reached an agreement with Bruichladdich to buy the distillery for a sum of £58m.
Blenders Whyte and Mackay acquired the distillery in 1993. Just two years later, production ceased and in 2000 the distillery was purchased by Murray McDavid for £6.5m. The former Bowmore manager, Jim McEwan was brought in as Production Director, and in July of 2001 distillation began once more.


Islay Barley is a very interesting whisky which has been made to illustrate just how much of a barring the barley has on the whisky. The barley it’s self is from the Rockside Farm, harvested in 2006 and then distilled in 2007. The distillery has used a very slow distillation process to try and coax as much flavour and complexity from the unpeated grain in to the whisky as possible.

I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added two and a half teaspoons of water and left the whisky covered to develop for fifteen minutes.

The whisky is a light bright golden colour with a slight haze. On rolling around the glass the whisky has a light syrupy consistency and leaves light legs around the inside of the glass.

The nose is soft and floral with heather honey, seaweed and a maritime salty air feel to it. It reminds me of standing in a field not too farm from the sea in summer. Notes of apple mint and dark berries follow and are rounded off by a light sweet toffee note in the background.

The flavour has notes of apple, mint and a soft sweet grain note which come forward. This is followed by a note of salt and a prickle of ginger. This is rounded out by a soft wood note in the background.

The finish lingers with soft hits of grain sweetness and a dry woody note.

This is a hugely complex and engaging whisky for its age and illustrates its point beautifully!

The whisky is available from the distillery HERE!