Whisky of the Year 2017
The Whisky Exchange Whisky of the Year tasting is one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the whisky calendar. We ask a number of TWE staff to choose their favourite whiskies, which we whittle down to the most popular eight bottles. There are some rules, however. Each whisky must be:
- below £60
- not cask strength
- an ongoing release
- a Scottish single malt
We pour the whiskies, our customers taste them all – blind – and then vote for their favourite and runner-up. And this year, the winning whisky is Kilchoman Machir Bay 2016 – a delicious, fresh, fruity Islay single malt.
Machir Bay 2016
Named after the most spectacular beach on Islay, Machir Bay is the flagship of the Kilchoman range. It's aged in ex-bourbon barrels, which brings out vanilla and toffee sweetness, then finished in ex-oloroso sherry casks, adding fruit and spice. If you've never tried an Islay whisky before, you must give this one a go – it's fresh and fruity with a rich layer of wood smoke adding character and complexity. A deserved winner of The Whisky Exchange's Whisky of the Year.
Tasting Notes By Stuart Peskett
- Nose: Enticing aromas of wood smoke, barley and lemon oil. Clean and fruity, with richness in the form of vanilla custard and toffee.
- Palate: Whistle-clean, this is alive with zesty citrus fruit and aromatic peat with the balancing sweetness of vanilla fudge along with notes of apple and pear and a sprinkling of black pepper.
- Finish: The rich wood smoke is well balanced by the clean citrus notes.
- Comment: Lip smacking and refreshing, this is a delicious Islay single malt that is not only clean and fruity, but has the classic Islay peat character. A great introduction to Islay whisky.
Kilchoman (pronounced 'kil-HO-man') was established in Islay in 2005, with a mission to make Islay at the heart of everything it does. Its first single malt was released in 2009, and Kilchoman hasn't looked back, with a variety of whiskies that have impressed both critics and drinkers alike. It released its 100% Islay bottling in 2011, with every step of the process local to the island, while 2013 saw the launch of its sherry-cask-matured Loch Gorm.
Kilchoman was founded by Anthony Wills, who said he was 'delighted' that one of his whiskies has been named TWE Whisky of the Year. He said: 'Ten years ago, I never envisaged that we'd have such a demand and people commenting so favourably about our whisky. I thought it would take much longer!'