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Distillery In The Spotlight: Kilchoman

Distilleries in the Spotlight

23.07.2020

A brief history and some notable bottles from this fan-favourite Islay distillery.

Kilchoman whisky selection

A brief history and some notable bottles from this fan-favourite Islay distillery.

A brief history and some notable bottles from this fan-favourite Islay distillery.

The only independent farm distillery on Islay, when Kilchoman first came on the Ileach whisky scene in 2005 they may have been small in scale and appearance, but they certainly packed an impressive punch.

One of the newest distilleries on Islay (It recently lost this title with the opening of Ardnahoe distillery on the islands North-East coast) and definitely the smallest, Kilchoman has astounded whisky connoisseurs with a delicious spirit that is appreciated at even the youngest of ages. Differing between its own floor malted barley and some from Port Ellen maltings, there are clear and distinct differences between batches.

Kilchoman was founded by drinks industry professional Anthony Wills, a former wine trader before entering the whisky industry as an independent bottler in the mid-1990s for eight years. In the early 2000’s Anthony was facing the struggles of sourcing high-quality single casks as more and more distilleries held onto their stocks as the demand for malt whisky surged in the marketplace. Disappointed in this reality, Anthony decided that if he couldn’t find the whisky he was searching for, he would make it himself and the Kilchoman idea was born.

Opened in 2005, Kilchoman was the first new distillery to be built on Islay for 124 years. The distillery saw a return of the practice of “farm distilling” to the island, with its own barely fields, malt floors and kilns. It is most likely Anthony's experience in the wine trade which founded Kilchoman's focus on provenance. Today around 25% of its barley requirement is self-fulfilled, and in 2011 they bottled their first 100% Islay release of single farm, single malt. The distillery’s first release came in 2009, and it has cemented a fine reputation ever since.

Kilchoman quickly established an early and loyal fan base due to their hugely successful and distinct single malt releases. A number of their expressions have become of notable value, particularly their Inaugural release which has performed well as a collector’s item. Other releases include their single cask bottlings for various retailers and other groups such as Royal Mile Whiskies, La Maison du Whisky, The Whisky Exchange, Islay Pipe Band and The Whisky Trail.

Kilchoman take part in the annual Feis Ile celebrations and have released various whiskies and ‘other spirits’ not old enough to be called whisky for this event which today are increasingly sought-after amongst Kilchoman's growing admirers.

In 2012, the Kilchoman Club was established, with an annual bottling being offered to club members of their oldest and rarest stocks. This was only available online or at the distillery and proved a hit, selling out very quickly.

 

ICONIC KILCHOMAN EXPRESSIONS

Machir Bay 

First introduced in 2012, Machir Bay is now the distillery's core expression and is a vatting of ex-bourbon and sherry casks, with a greater influence from the former.

Sanaig

Originally an exclusive bottling for the French market, Sanaig was launched worldwide in 2016. It is a vatting of ex-bourbon and sherry casks, approx. 30% /70% respectively, and provides the ideal comparative tasting with Machir Bay.

Loch Gorm

Introduced to wide acclaim in 2013, Loch Gorm is an annual sherry cask expression matured exclusively in oloroso casks and named after a famously dark and peaty loch overlooked by the distillery,

100% Islay

All parts of the production process for the 100% Islay take place at the distillery – from barley to bottle. The barley is grown, malted, distilled, matured and bottled at Kilchoman. Bottled at 50% ABV and peated to a lower level to that of other releases. Aged in a combination of fresh and refill bourbon barrels for 3 years.

Eilidh Jack

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