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Kilchoman

Kilchoman

Kilchoman (pronounced: kil-KOH-man) is the first distillery to be built on Islay since Malt Mill at Lagavulin in 1908. It has been a real success story since it ran its first spirit in 2005 and even more so since it began bottling its young, but remarkably mature, whisky only a couple of years ago. It has had setbacks (not mentioning any burning pagodas or football matches) but it has otherwise shone as a testament to a love of whisky and commendable willpower by Anthony Wills and his team.

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Kilchoman Distillery

Founded: 2005
Stills: 1 Wash 1 Spirit
Water Source: Local Source
Capacity: 90,000 Litres
Owners: Anthony Wills

Kilchoman is produced in a mish mash of modern and old school fashions. Firstly a good proportion of the barley is grown locally on Rockside farm and is floor malted on site, peated up to about 25ppm phenol. The rest is taken from Port Ellen maltings at 55ppm phenol. After this the production is fairly modern with stainless steel washbacks and steam heated stills with shell condensers. However the tiny size of the stills no doubt helps impart some of the old school oiliness that is so obvious in the bottled whisky. After distillation it is filled primarily into fresh bourbon barrels and the occasional sherry butt, although thankfully refill casks are also used.

The first bottlings of Kilchoman at 3 years of age were understandably quite raw and youthful but even then they showed remarkably swift maturity and character. Given another two years the spirit is now starting to show a distinct distillery character that is full of peat oils, farmyard characters, fresh citrus fruits and a wonderful dry coastal balance. The malts are vigorous, smoky and unmistakably Islay with that great mix of farmy, industrial and coastal aspects. The whisky made from 100% local barley has not yet seen a released but it will be fascinating to compare to the Port Ellen malt batches. Given the quality already at only five years of age it seems highly unlikely it will be anything other than fantastic.

Kilchoman is now entering its sixth year of production and seems to be going from strength to strength. So all we have to do is wait for time to work its magic and hope that the Kilchoman team continue to produce with the same consistency they have already shown us. If things continue as they are, Kilchoman will soon join the ranks of other famous Islay names as a bona fide classic.

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