Kilchoman may be Islay’s newest distillery but it has already gained a justified reputation as a producer of excellent whisky.
Kilchoman was founded by Anthony Wills in 2005. Having previously run an independent bottler, Wills became intrigued with the prospect of creating a traditional farm distillery and decided that Islay would be the ideal place for just such a venture. Within some disused farm buildings Kilchoman began to take shape, surrounded on all sides by some of the best Barley growing land on the island.
While Islay’s western coast was chosen for purely practical reasons, it is perhaps almost fate that a distillery would one day stand on this land. At the Kilchoman Church stands an ancient Celtic cross, upon which is inscribed the name ‘MacBeatha’. The MacBeatha were scholars and men of science and medicine who arrived on Islay having left Co. Antrim in Ireland. They made their home at Kilchoman and it is believed that it was they who translated ancient texts on distilling from Latin to Gaelic. It is not, therefore, beyond imagination that they put their knowledge to good use on this rugged, Atlantic coast.
In many ways, Islay’s newest distillery is a window to the past – a glimpse of how things were done in the old days, with barley grown on the farm, distilled, matured and bottled onsite. Of course, the surrounding farmland cant supply enough barley to meet the distillers needs so the excess is brought in.
100% Islay is an annual batch whisky made completely with grain grown on the island.
100% Islay is bottled at 50% abv and at natural colour. Sensibly, Kilchoman do not chill filter any of their whisky, meaning you can expect good texture and mouthfeel from each expression.
Smell: I’m enjoying this! There’s Malt and Cereal notes with Vanilla, a touch of Lemon with Ash and Grassy Smoke – like Burning Straw.
Taste: Right up my street, Creamy Vanilla, a touch of Coastal Salt, a bit of Honey and Lemon and then Smoke to wrap things up.
Value for Money: No age statement here, which may put some people off for the price of £60 – £70. Having said that, Kilchoman have somewhat perfected the art of making young whisky taste great and this is no exception. Add the uniqueness of the product in that it was planted, grown, malted, fermented, distilled, matured and bottled all in the same place and the cost starts to look a little more justified in my opinion.
Score: 46.5 / 50.
A fine balance between Barley and Smoke and an all round good example of a medium peated Islay. Not to mention, a little glimpse into the history of scotch whisky.