There's a new kid on Scotland's famed island of Islay, home to the world's smokiest whiskies. Kilchoman was founded in 2005, the first new distillery there in 124 years. It features tiny stills and a bottling line that can handle 100 cases a day, which doesn't sound like much to me. Predictably, the spirits are young, but already they show good character and poise. This Machir Bay, released in 2012, contains whisky that spent three, four and five years in casks, first in ex-bourbon wood from Kentucky's Buffalo Trace Distillery and then "finished" for two months in oloroso sherry butts. It's young and lean for an Islay malt, with a light-blond colour and cereal essence, but it delivers punchy smoke from the get-go and a delectable core of silky fruit. Licorice/aniseed and black pepper make an appearance midway through, and the big smoke rises again on the long, satisfying finish. Bottled at 46-per-cent alcohol, it comes into its own with a small splash of cold water, releasing more of that licorice and sweet fruit; $85.25 in B.C., $86 in Quebec, $81.99 in New Brunswick.
Beppi Crosariol is co-author, with The Globe's Lucy Waverman, of The Flavour Principle, a sumptuous new cookbook and drinks compendium, published by HarperCollins.