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Kichoman releases Scotland’s newest malt

Kilchoman Distillery, the first built on Islay for nearly 100 years, released its inaugural single malt whisky at a private party at the distillery on September 9, which saw the great and good of the whisky world come together for the historic occasion

Production started in late 2005 and annual production is between 90,000 and 100,000 litres of alcohol; 30% of the spirit is distilled from barley grown and malted at the distillery and the balance comes from the Port Ellen Maltings on the island. The two malts are kept separate during distilling and Kilchoman will release two different expressions of single malt. The majority of maturation (80%) is in fresh bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace and the remaining 20% in fresh Oloroso sherry butts.

Anticipation of the release had been growing since a bottle from the first cask filled at the distillery was auctioned during Kilchoman’s open day during Feis Ile, the whisky festival in May 2009. A number of collectors and whisky enthusiasts were present for the auction and the bottle eventually sold for £5,400.  

The malt has been matured in fresh bourbon barrels and finished for six months in Oloroso sherry butts. In order to maximise flavour and texture, the single malt whisky will be bottled at 46% ABV at natural colour and non chill-filtered.

Wills commented: “the release of our first single malt is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work and we have strived to produce top quality spirit and fill into top quality wood. The reaction to the various releases of our spirit has been very encouraging and everyone connected with Kilchoman is looking forward to sharing our malt with whisky enthusiasts around the world.”

The recommended retail price is £37.00 per bottle. Bottles have been be allocated to 14 key malt markets worldwide as well as being available from the distillery shop and website.


Tasting notes from Kilchoman Single Malt, 46% from Dr Jim Swan

“Peat smoke and caramel toffee drizzled with rich fruits.

On the nose Kilchoman begins with strong peaty aromas. While many Islay malts are either wood smoke or medicinal or many variations on the theme, Kilchoman has them all. Initial peat smoke reveals an underlying clean medicinal character but rich dark fruits and light citrus lemon and orange follow on. Finally hints of creamy caramel toffees and sultanas fight their way through this complex whisky.

In the mouth this single malt is remarkably viscous and the peat smoke has to share its flavour with dark fruits, sultanas and creamy toffee in the mid palate. Kilchoman has a long finish, eventually the peat recovers, leaving a clean lingering aftertaste long after swallowing.”


About Kilchoman

Anthony Wills, the founder and managing director of the Kilchoman Distillery Co began the project in the summer of 2001. The company is privately owned with 30 private investors.

Anthony has worked in the drinks industry for 32 years, firstly in the wine trade, and since moving to Scotland in 1995 he has been involved in the sales and marketing of malt whisky.had run his own independent single cask bottling company for 8 years when he came up with the idea of building a farm distillery.

"The interest in malt whisky has been growing steadily since the early 1990’s and enthusiasts and connoisseurs have become more and more interested in purchasing limited edition releases from various distilleries – so why not the ultimate farm distillery – ‘taking whisky back to its roots’.   

"Whisky distilling started on farms all over Scotland and, especially on the west coast, and it was no accident that Islay became famous for whisky production. Islay is very fertile and therefore growing barley was no problem, it had plenty of water and peat for drying the malt," he says.

Islay was chosen as the location for the distillery because of it’s reputation worldwide for producing top quality malts, and also because Anthony knew the island well having married into a family that had owned an estate on the Island for 60 years.

Rockside Farm was chosen because of the ideal buildings available and also because the farm grows the best malting barley on the island.

Raising the funds proved the most challenging aspect of the project and having raised £1million from private individuals, the local enterprise board and bank, a further £2million was required within 2 to 3 years of starting the project.

"We have been very fortunate that our shareholders have been very supportive and have dug deep to make sure the project becomes a success," says Anthony.

Kilchoman has 30 private investors and 90% of the business is owned by Anthony Wills’ family and two other groups of investors.

To broaden awareness of Kilchoman, miniatures of the new spirit have been sold from the shop and on-line, as well as to distributors in the mature malt markets worldwide. "Recently we have bottled 2 year old new spirit in 70cl bottles and sold these via our appointed distributors as well a few of the specialist whisky retailers in the UK," adds Anthony.

1 September 2009 - Felicity Murray