The Twins of Kilchoman

Updated: Jan 13, 2019

I've been hearing quite a lot from this distillery, Kilchoman, for the past couple of months; perhaps due to the strong promotion forged by the renowned the Whisky Exchange.

So I decided to do more research about this distillery to see why it is everyone talking about it lately.

Being the first distillery to be built in Islay for over 124 years, the distillery was founded in 2005 by Anthony Wills and is Islay’s only farm distillery.

In fact, under the circumstances where the majority of Scotch distilleries in the market are owned by multinational liquor companies, Kilchoman is one of the few whisky distilleries in Scotland to remain independent.

What makes it even more interesting is that "it represents the revival of single malt whisky being cultivated from barley to bottle in a single location."

I suppose Kilchoman's philosophy is what makes it so unique in the market.

With all that said, I had the opportunity to get my hands on the two distinct notes of Kilchoman, the Machir Bay and the Sanaig. Both very different from each other because of the variation in the cask influence.

In today's article, I would like to share with you all my tasting notes on these two whiskies. Please enjoy.

Named after a small bay on the Western Coast of Islay; Machir Bay is a whisky first matured in bourbon barrels for six years and then finished off with Oloroso Sherry butts.

When I first nosed it, I could immediately catch the moderate, gentle peaty smokiness alongside with a light fruity scent. After I went for the second nosing, the whisky starts to move closer to a vanilla-biscuit scent.

However, what's more interesting is that I also caught a scent of 'new distillery'. It somehow reminds me of my tasting experience at Raasay, even though they are from two completely different regions of Scotland.

As for the palate, it started off quite light, followed by a tropical fruity scent. The peaty smoke runs alongside quite nicely as well, doesn't necessarily stealing the spotlight of the fruitiness. Finally, it finished off with a sherry sweetness while being a little bit peppery.

All in all, I think the Machir Bay (at £45.95 for 70cl) has a definitely great value if you are looking for something that has a very light peaty note while being distinctively Islay-like.

Moving onto the Sanaig. This statement from Kilchoman is sweeter in comparsion since it has a much stronger Sherry cask influence.

The nose of the whisky starts off with light fruitiness, almost resembling a dried pineapple scent. It is also toffee-like; and if you nose it for a few more times, you could also catch a scent of plum.

Contrastingly, it is the palate that has more diversity in flavor. It starts off having a fruity scent as well; however, it is peach-like this time rather than pineapple-like. From there, you could also taste a very subtle peaty note from the background; as well as some peppery note.

As for the finish, it starts off having a fruity sweetness. Soon, it is taken over by the long peaty scent once again.

I would suggest that if you are looking for a whisky that has numerous spectrum of scent, Sanaig might be a good one to start off with.


With all that said, in today's world where whiskies are starting to turn into a product of making profit, distilleries are forced to be competing with one another for producing the valuable whisky.

Nonetheless, it is small independent distilleries like Kilchoman that brings us back to why we taste whiskies -- to explore whiskies that are not made to appeal to the market but have its unique character.

Definitely should pay more attention to this young and uprising distillery.

#whisky #tasting #Kilochman #MachirBay #Sanaig