Kilchoman Distillery


History - In 2002 plans were submitted to build a new distillery on Islay, arguably Scotland’s most famous and celebrated whisky region. This was quite a big deal, as it would be the first new distill-ery in over 124 to be built on the Island. The Kilchoman Distillery started production in 2005 by its creator, Anthony Wills. Anthony knew the industry after running his own successful independent single cask business for over eight years. With his wife originally from the island and with its repu-tation in the whisky world it was always going to be built on Islay. After a tough job of raising funds, he had made his dream a reality to bring back the lost art of farm distilling and to take whisky back to its traditional roots of the Island.

The Whisky – Kilchoman’s house style is slightly different to most other Islay whiskies, as in it is not as smoky. Don’t get me wrong you still get a whiff of peat smoke but it is more subtle and lighter than the other big hitters. The character they have tried to achieve is a clean, fresh, sweet and cit-rus style of spirit. On the 9/9/2009 they released their first whisky to the world. They invest heavily in quality casks here and have an ethos of realising younger matured single malt believing that old-er age statements don't mean a better whisky. The distillery's core expression is 'Machir Bay’, named after the local and beautiful beach, which was launched in 2012 and to great acclaim. As well as this expression they also have ‘Sanaig', named after an inlet on Islay’s rugged Atlantic coast, ‘Loch Gorm', named after a famously dark and peaty loch overlooked by the distillery and their proudest creation ‘100% Islay' in which every bit of liquid in the bottle is created at Kilchoman from growing the barley to bottling the whisky itself.

Favourite Dram - As well as the range I mentioned they also do some fantastic Single Cask releases if you can get your hands on them. If I had to choose a favourite, then it would be one that I only recently just tasted, The Kilchoman Sauternes cask finish. The whisky inside this bottle has been matured in ex-bourbon casks then finished in Sauternes casks from the Sauternais region in Bor-deaux for five months giving it a delightfully fruity and caramel character. It doesn't break the bank either coming in at about £75.

Why Visit? – This is a must visit if you are coming to visit distilleries on the Island. Being smaller, they can give you a more personal and informative tour with some of the most knowledgeable guides I have met. The basic tour lasts an hour for £10, and you can even hang about in the shop and cafe afterwards. As always I would recommend calling ahead to book your space when visiting.

Interesting fact – This is not a big distillery, it is tiny compared to some of the Islands powerhouses. To put it into context Kilchoman makes the same amount of spirit in one year as its Caol Ila Distill-ery does in one week: approximately 200,000 litres of alcohol.