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Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012 – Best Whisky of 2012

Last year, I had the pleasure and good fortune to attend an LA Scotch Club tasting with Kilchoman founder, Anthony Wills. It was great times had by all, and since then, I’ve been keen to try every publicly-released expression (and even some exclusive bottlings) from that distillery. And you know what? They’re all fantastic!

However, with pretty much every expression accessible to me, I always find myself gravitating to Kilchoman’s standard, Machir Bay. I find it an extremely well-balanced dram that I can spend quite a bit of time nosing and enjoying.

Though it is a vatting of some young-ish (3-, 4-, and 5-year old) whiskies (some fools will look down on this), the quality in ingredients, process, barrels, and some magic potion truly makes this a remarkable malt (and have converted some of those aforementioned fools to fanatics).

Comprised of spirits aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished in oloroso sherry butts, this single malt exhibits a complexity on the nose and the palate that I can’t recall from any other scotches that I had in recent times.

Bottled at 46% ABV, nosing this whisky is a breeze. I get floral notes like hay and freshly-cut grass. There’s also some fruity tangerine, pine sol lemon, and Asian candy with Xylitol. Being from Islay, of course there’s the earthy peat. It’s a bit medicinal but not overwhelming.

Sipping it, there’s no doubt that Machir Bay is a savory, dry whisky. There’s hints of chocolate. Still, it’s all overshadowed by the peat and other goodness. I think that the 92 proof this whisky is bottled at is perfect. It allows a plethora of flavors to develop while allowing the finish to linger for a good amount of time.

Relating this to a life experience, it’s like visiting a moderately-packed county fair, complete with a farm animal petting zoo.

With a street price of around $50 a bottle, I give this a solid A grade.

Locally, it can be found at K&L and Total Wine.

Link: Kilchoman

Caol Ila 10 year old by Berry Bros and Rudd – Casks 309796 and 309881

I was at Total Wine the other day to replenish my whisky stock when I came across this 10 year old Caol Ila bottled by famed wine and spirits merchants, Berry Bros and Rudd. At a penny under $70, it represented an outstanding deal, especially for a cask strength (58.5%) from one of my favorite distilleries.

I love the natural, pale color. Just looking at it, I prepped for fruity (pears or apple) and vanilla notes, which I got on the nose. I also experienced unlit match sticks, cardboard, permanent marker fumes, and hay. The initial taste was a bit harsh which is expected for such a young and cask strength whisky. Letting it interact with the air for a bit, this dram did mellow out some. Still, it was one of the savoriest Caol Ilas that I’ve ever had. There was a lot of peat that coated the tongue, and it took forever for the alcohol to evaporate – ultra long long finish.

I gave it a B rating. It’s definitely worth picking up, especially for the price.

Link: Caol Ila

Kirkland Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky 20 year Sherry Cask Finish

December 22, 2012 Drinking, Speyside 4 Comments

A few weeks ago, I picked up this reasonably-priced Kirkland Signature 20 year old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky from the local Costco. Bottled by Alexander Murray, I am curious to know why they did not list the name of the distiller, like the 15 year old The Macallan that they currently have on the shelves. I’m going to guess that it’s from Glenmorangie. Anyways…

Bottled at 40% abv, nosing this scotch is easy and pleasurable. There is no alcohol burn at all. Instead, I smell gingerbread cupcakes and freshly-baked fruit tarts. On the palate, it is very malty, and slightly sweet. A bit one-note. However, its redeeming feature is that it is smooth, really smooth. There is no bite at all. The finish is very short.

Overall, this is a decent dram, especially at the price point. I give it a B-/C+.

Alexander Murray

Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength

I’m going to start this blog by telling you about,while also drinking, my favorite Scotch whisky, Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength. It’s a lot like the standard 10 year old, but better, primarily because, as its name implies, it was bottled right out of American oak barrels.

Hailing from the island of Islay, Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength is, in a word, AWESOME.

I love everything about it – the complexly sweet, sea-salty, medicinal nose, the peaty taste, and the extra long, smoky finish.

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