Kilchoman Machir Bay 2014

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2014Distillery: Kilchoman
Region: Islay
Age: Vatting of 5 and 6 year old malt
abv: 46%

Opened in 2005, Kilchoman was the first distillery to be built on Islay in 124 years. Like so many whisky distilleries in the old days, Kilchoman is built on a farm that produces its own barley. While most distilleries have gone on to become large production sites, Kilchoman is as of yet very small, giving a unique insight into what a whisky distillery might have looked like two centuries ago. Indeed, all processes, from malting, distilling, maturing and bottling, currently take place on the farm, making Kilchoman unique on Islay. This means that the distillery is well worth a visit, and I can certainly recommend their tour!

From the very moment that its first spirit became whisky, Kilchoman has boasted a large fan base. This is impressive, given that many whiskies at 3 years old are quite undrinkable, let alone marketable. Yet Kilchoman’s raw spirit is of an exceptional quality, allowing for its whisky to be bottled at such a tender age. While I love the youthful, intrepid character of their whiskies, I can’t wait to taste what Kilchoman will be like after a few years’ extra maturation. For now all the signs indicate Kilchoman have a very bright future ahead of them!

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Age Your Own Whisky – Batch #1

For the first batch, Master of Malt recommends to fill your cask with something other than expensive whisky. This is because the cask has never been used before, and the wood is still packed full of flavours that are ready to overwhelm any liquid you place inside it. For this purpose, I decided to use Bols Corenwyn, as this resembles unaged whisky spirit fairly closely.

Bols 01

The first batch uses Bols Corenwyn

Korenwijn (Bols uses the Corenwyn spelling to make their product seem that little bit more fancy) is a type of Dutch jenever. It literally translates to ‘grain wine’, and to an extent it is just that. By regulation, korenwijn must contain at least 51% malt wine, meaning that like a whisky, malted barley is its main ingredient. To contrast, ‘jonge’ jenever may contain no more than 15% malt wine, while ‘oude’ jenever must have at least 15%. As such, korenwijn is often seen as the more luxurious cousin of jenever, and indeed is often cask-aged before being bottled. Korenwijn is distilled to a strength of about 50% alcohol and bottled at a standard 38%. Distillation to such a low alcohol percentage leaves a lot of space for impurities, and these are traditionally masked by the addition of herbs. The botanical of choice is typically juniper, from which the name jenever derives.

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