Kilchoman Islay's Farm Distillery
We were very lucky to welcome George Wills to present some great whiskies from his family’s Distillery, Kilchoman.
I first visited Kilchoman Distillery in 2006, only a few months after they first ran in 2005. The Distillery is situated on Rockside Farm, on the Rhinnes, the west side, of the magical Isle of Islay. The founder, owner, and Georges Dad, Antony Wills wanted a small farm distillery to make whisky in a very traditional way. They have a long fermentation of 85 hours, and use very small stills, at the moment they are producing about 200,000 litres of spirit a year. They are currently expanding with a new still house due to be finished in September, and new Kiln and Malting floor are already being used.
Kilchoman is a small craft distillery, family owned and family run. George is one of 3 brothers, who all work for the distillery along with their Parents. It was a real pleasure to have a passionate family member share their knowledge and whisky with us.
The Whiskies Buy
Kilchoman 100% Islay – 50% – A few years ago the Wills family took the opportunity to buy Rockside Farm. So, they now control the whole process of making whisky right from growing the barley, to bottling, distribution and marketing. As they can only, grow a proportion of the barley they require only this expression is made totally with Barley grown on the farm, an annual limited edition. The peat level varies from year to year, making each year’s expression different. They use ex-bourbon, actually Buffalo Trace, casks for the maturation. The American oak allows the barley flavours to flourish, a lightly peaty, clean fresh whisky. A firm favourite of ours.
Kilchoman – Machir Bay – 46% – This is the core expression named after the beautiful beach near to the distillery. It is a 5-year-old whisky, using barley peated to 50 phonels PPM, Ardbeg specification. The whisky is matured in 90% ex-bourbon casks, 10% ex-Oloroso sherry casks. A great typically Islay Dram. Peaty, smoky with a touch of seaside. Conclusively proves that peaty whisky does not need to be old to be good.
Kilchoman – Sanaig – 46% – Similar to the Machir Bay in terms of age but 70% of this whisky is matured in ex – oloroso sherry casks and 30% ex-bourbon cask, the sherry casks being mainly Hogsheads. 350 litres as opposed to 500 litre Butts, gives more intense flavour to the whisky. It is named after a small rocky inlet North West of the distillery. Nice balance between the different oaks, light citrus sweetness.
Kilchoman – Loch Gorm – 46% – Another annual limited release, this matured in ex-sherry casks, mainly first fill, but with some second fill. Again 4 – 5-year-old whisky, again very good. Rich sherry, fruitcake flavours as well as peat and smoke.
Kilchoman – 2009 Vintage – 46% – As it says on the label – Whisky distilled in 2009. Uses about 20% ex-sherry casks – 80% ex-bourbon. Bit more depth, more weight.
Kilchoman – Red Wine Cask Matured – 50% – At Kilchoman the whisky they have maturing is 70% in ex-bourbon casks, 20% ex-sherry cask, leaving 10% in casks which they “play with”. This expression is from some of these. All the whisky is matured totally in ex-Portuguese Red Wine casks. This is a wonderfully, peated, rich, fruity (Strawberries), whisky. Sorry this was a very limited release which has now all gone.