Getting into Single Malt Scotch Whisky with a bottle of KilchomanNovember 5, 2018
As with any new venture it’s sometimes difficult to know just where to start. Do you go for the cheapest bottle you can find and work your way up or dive straight into a single cask limited release? Fortunately, Kilchoman single malt is the perfect choice for getting into scotch whisky, especially if you’re looking for something unique and complex, with heritage ingredients and traditional practices. It’s initially easy going and accessible, but it reveals new layers of character with every sip.
That said, there’s a few ways to help you make the most of the true Kilchoman experience…
Step one: Prepare
Kilchoman is a reflection of the island that produces it: slow going, thoughtful and best visited more than once. With this in mind, it’s worth taking a little bit of time to truly enjoy the moment – the more comfortable you are, the better. After all, you want the whisky to take center stage. Part of this is getting your favourite tumbler or Glencairn glass and delicately pouring just a dram into its shiny embrace. Take a moment to appreciate the colour. It may seem like a small thing, but the golden sheen of a Machir Bay speaks for its overall character: crisp, light and refined.
Kilchoman is best served neat, unspoiled by mixers. However, this is an individual choice and there are certainly some fine Kilchoman cocktails to be found, just ask those sampling the Machir Bay Old Fashioned on the European Tour. Alternatively, you can add a small drop of water – a process that releases some of the aromatics and flavour hidden inside. It’s also wise to cleanse your palate first. After all, it’s difficult to appreciate the subtlety of a good dram with the remains of an Islay Venison Burger stuck between your teeth!
Step two: Nose
First thing is first, before you take a sip, you must nose your dram of Kilchoman – A few swirls will help to unlock the aromas in your Kilchoman: notes of citrus zests, vanilla biscuit and ever changing layers of peat smoke will make themselves apparent initially. However, don’t worry if you smell something different, the human nose can detect over 30,000 different scents and you may well pick up on other qualities first. Some have reported hints of nuttiness, honey and the oddly specific ‘salted white chocolate’; just remember though, there is no right or wrong. Each experience is subjective and each sampling will reveal further depth for you. If you catch a subtle hint of Chilean shrubbery or a passing whiff of burnt rubber, that’s just your experience!
Try and make a mental note of each aroma that lifts from the glass. When it comes to tasting, it’ll help you pick out individual flavours from the sip. Start with your nose about an inch from the rim of the glass and gently inhale, noticing the lighter delicate aromas that rise up first. If your nose begins to burn, take a step back and inhale less strongly. If you pass out, unfortunately you’ve clearly forgotten to breathe back out.
Step three: the taste
With the memory of the aromas still fresh in your mind, give the glass another swirl and slowly take a small sip, just enough to coat your tongue. Let it swirl around your mouth, using the whole tongue to sample the flavour. Different areas have different sensitivities to certain tastes, so the tip may reveal different secrets to the back or sides.
This taste is what’s known as the palate, which is the main course to the whisky experience – the nose being the appetizer and the finish being the dessert that leaves you perfectly satisfied. The palate of Machir Bay has been described by one guest to the distillery as “a generous burst of tropical fruit and raisin, followed by playful layers of wafting smoke”. Again, there’s no right or wrong here, and if your taste buds tell you that the smoke flavours are ‘drifting’ instead of ‘wafting’, and the layers ‘thoughtful’ instead of ‘playful’, who are we to judge? The joy of whisky lies in your experience, and as far as we’re concerned, every opinion is equally valid on the shores of Islay.
As mentioned, the final flourish is the finish. It’s the taste that follows you long after the whisky has become acquainted with your esophagus. One of the things that makes Kilchoman the perfect introduction to scotch whisky is the fact that its finish is a remarkably clean one. This means none of the alcoholic burn associated with some whiskies is present. Look out for hints of peat smoke and plenty of mixed fruits that characterise the Kilchoman range… it should feel like nothing short of a warm hug!
Step four: look photogenic
Like an Olympic gymnast nailing a perfect routine, it’s vital that you perfect your landing. Slowly lower your glass onto a coaster of your choice, exhale then look up and wink at anyone else in the room. They’ll know you’ve just sampled a Kilchoman. They’ll know you’re on the right track.
If in doubt you can always ask our founder, Anthony Wills, he’s an old hand at drinking whisky these days…
100% Islay 13th Edition
The 100% Islay 13th Edition was distilled from barley grown on the farm at Kilchoman in 2012, 2013 and 2014, it was then matured for a minimum of 8 years before 44 bourbon barrels were selected for this year’s release of bottles. “The 13th Edition is the first release since…September 11, 2023