Lets talk about the elephant in the room when it comes to enthusiast blogs on whisky. The biggest problem with basing your purchasing decisions on any blog is no matter how hard the author tries to be impartial there is always the risk of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is defined as a tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.
It takes a strong head and being alert to not let yourself be swayed by the packaging on the bottle or the brand marketing. To solely focus on the liquid you taste and judge it fairly is a lot harder to do than you might expect. Whole departments of people are employed to persuade you this whisky is the best, that it represents that you have made it in the world. You only have to look at the Johnnie Walker Blue label to see how an alcoholic drink can become just the tiny kernel inside a massive managed brand representing success and indulgence. Sales of blue label come as much from people who want to say they can buy it as those who actually want to drink it. Blue label has become the one you buy in the bar to show you banked big this year.
With all that in mind what is the solution? One solution could be blind tasting and last week that is exactly what I was involved in.
Using the hashtag #wishkyhour on twitter we spent a couple of hours sampling a whisky which we knew nothing about. Wishky is a new subscription service on the market which for a monthly fee provides a selection of interesting drams in the post each month. For more information on them please see their website https://wishky.co/
This review is about that sample and the notes were made after the end of the event.
Kilchoman Machir Bay is the original core expression from the Islay farm distillery. It is predominately ex bourbon cask matured with a small about of sherry influence in the recipe. The casks are between five and six years old and bottled naturally with no colouring or filtering. In fact there were little flakes of cask in my glass during my second sitting. The bottling strength is 46% ABV and it will cost you around £43 in the UK.
Colour – White wine with bits of charred cask!
Nose – sweet and caramel hit you immediately. The peat fire follows around some sweet honey and vanilla pods. The sweetness of more pronounced then the peat smoke.
Palate – Thick and coating mouthfeel from that craft presentation. The peat flavour gives a dirty edge to the taste which follows the nose.
Finish – An ashy charcoal finish with some lemon oil
So this is my second batch of Macir Bay my first being bottled in 2014. Tasting this one blind was a great experience and a confirmation that I enjoy the products from Kilchoman. This particular batch seemed to be a lot different from the previous bottle I had tried but also the quarter cask expression from over christmas. The big difference is the fierceness of the peat smoke which seemed much more restrained here than I remember.
I have been a Kilchoman fan for quite a while but lately I have been wondering if I am falling for the marketing a little. Kilchoman whiskies are young and they are relatively expensive I wanted to know they were worth the expensive or was I buying into a brand. It turned out though there is real quality here because I distinctly remember during the blind tasting thinking how much flavour and interest their was in the glass.
I am sure there can’t be many peat fans who have not tried Macir Bay or Sanaig yet but if you haven’t I recommend you do soon.