Kilchoman Distillery

  • Scotland
  • Machir Bay Single Malt – Gold Medal (2023), 100% Islay 12th Edition – Gold Medal (2023)
Phone Number
  • +441496850011
  • Rockside Farm, Bruichladdich, Isle of Islay PA49 7UT, United Kingdom

Kilchoman Distillery entrance with whiskey barrels.

History of Kilchoman Distillery

Kilchoman Distillery, located on the Isle of Islay in Scotland, has a fascinating history deeply intertwined with Scottish whisky-making traditions. Established in 2005, it’s a relatively new player in a field dominated by centuries-old distilleries, yet it has quickly made a name for itself in the world of single-malt Scotch whisky.

Early Beginnings

The creation of Kilchoman Distillery marked a significant milestone in Islay’s whisky history. It was the first new distillery built on the island in over 124 years. The distillery was the brainchild of Anthony Wills, who aimed to bring back the tradition of farm distilling, where the process from barley to bottle was completed on-site.

Philosophy and Production

From its inception, Kilchoman focused on producing whisky using traditional methods. This included growing their barley, malting it on their malting floors, and using local peat for drying. Their commitment to ‘barley to bottle’ production on the Isle of Islay is a rare practice in the modern whisky industry.

First Releases and Growth

Kilchoman’s first release was in 2009, a three-year-old single malt, which was the first whisky to be distilled and fully matured on Islay in over 100 years. This release was met with great enthusiasm and marked the distillery’s entry into the competitive world of single-malt Scotch whisky.

Over the years, Kilchoman has expanded its range, introducing various expressions that have garnered accolades and appreciation from whisky enthusiasts worldwide. These include Machir Bay, their flagship expression, and limited edition releases that showcase different aspects of their whisky-making process.

Sustainability Efforts

In addition to its traditional methods, Kilchoman Distillery has also been forward-thinking in its approach to sustainability. It strives to maintain a balance between traditional practices and modern environmental responsibilities.

Current Status and Future Outlook

Today, Kilchoman thrives as a unique player in the Scotch whisky industry. Its commitment to traditional methods and a forward-thinking approach sets it apart. The distillery’s future looks promising, with continued innovation and a dedication to quality that resonates with whisky lovers worldwide.

Awards Won by Kilchoman Distillery

  • Machir Bay Single Malt – Gold Medal (2023)
    • Awarded by The Spirits Business Scotch Whisky Masters.
    • Recognizes Kilchoman’s flagship single malt.
    • Celebrates the distillery’s commitment to traditional whisky-making methods​​.
  • 100% Islay 12th Edition – Gold Medal (2023)
    • Also awarded by The Spirits Business Scotch Whisky Masters.
    • Highlights Kilchoman’s unique approach as the only Single Farm Single Malt from Islay.
    • Reflects the complete ‘barley to bottle’ production on Islay​​.
  • Machir Bay – ‘Tried & True’ Award (2021)
    • Awarded 95 points in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge.
    • Recognized for its consistent quality and excellence.
    • Solidifies Machir Bay’s status as a core and acclaimed product​​.
  • Sanaig – Gold Medal and 95 Points (2021)
    • Received at the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC).
    • Noted for its balance of sherry maturation and peat smoke.
    • A testament to Kilchoman’s innovative cask maturation techniques​​.
  • Machir Bay Cask Strength – ‘Best Islay Single Malt’ (2021)
    • Named at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2021.
    • Scored an exceptional 99 points.
    • Recognized for its intense flavour profile and cask strength character​​.
  • Sanaig – Gold Award (2023)
    • Awarded at the International Spirits Challenge.
    • Emphasizes the quality of this continually released whisky.
    • Showcases the distillery’s skill in blending sherry and bourbon cask influences​.

Kilchoman Distillery Tour Information and Experience

Classic Tour

This tour gives you a peek into the day-to-day operations of the distillery. Visitors can enjoy a dram of 100% Islay whisky from the malt floor.

The tour includes walking through the distillery production areas, visiting the warehouse, and concluding with a dram in the new Visitor Centre. The tour lasts for about an hour and costs £10 for adults and £5 for children. Children over 8 years old are allowed, and those under 8’s can join for free.

Limited Edition Tasting and Tour

A more in-depth tour available for £40 per adult, lasting 2 hours. It includes a detailed walkthrough of the whisky-making process and a tutored tasting of limited-edition whiskies. This tour is designed for visitors aged 18 and over.

Roving Tasting: Priced at £25 per adult, this 1 hour and 30 minutes tour offers a unique experience. Visitors can enjoy a dram in different distillery areas, including the malting floor, stillhouse, and warehouse, and finish with a taste of a shop-exclusive single cask at the visitor centre.

Group Bookings: Kilchoman Distillery caters to group bookings for 12 or more people, providing private tours and a lunch package option that needs to be booked in advance.

Visitor Centre and Café

The visitor centre, nestled among old farm stables, is a perfect place to immerse in the art of distillation and enjoy a dram by the fire. The café serves homemade cakes, soups, paninis, and barista-style coffee. The whisky bar is open for tastings every day from 10 am to 4.45 pm, and booking is not required for this​​.

Accessibility and Facilities

The distillery has parking, accessible parking or drop-off points, and partial wheelchair access. Pets are welcome, and there are dietary options available including vegetarian meals. Other amenities include a gift shop, cafe, and facilities for children.

Flask & Barrel Review of Kilchoman Distillery

As a seasoned whisky collector who’s toured his fair share of distilleries, I must say, my visit to Kilchoman Distillery was quite the experience. Nestled on the picturesque Isle of Islay, Kilchoman not only offers a glimpse into the traditional whisky-making process but also adds its unique twist to it.

What really sets Kilchoman apart is its ‘barley to bottle’ approach. As one of the few distilleries practicing floor malting and growing their barley, the tour offered a rare insight into these age-old techniques. Walking through the malting floor, with the earthy scent of barley in the air, felt like stepping back in time.

The Classic Tour, which I opted for, was an excellent primer into their processes. It was quite comprehensive yet approachable, even for someone who’s been on numerous distillery tours. The guide was knowledgeable and friendly, making the experience both educational and enjoyable.

Tasting their flagship Machir Bay and the 100% Islay dram was the highlight. The distinct peaty character, combined with the nuanced flavours developed from their unique cask maturation process, was a delight. Their visitor centre, with its blend of traditional and modern aesthetics, made for a cosy spot to enjoy these exquisite drams.

The café also deserves a mention. Their homemade cakes and Cullen Skink were the perfect accompaniments to a day of whisky exploration. It’s rare to find a distillery café that serves up such quality fare.

In terms of improvements, while the overall experience was fantastic, a little more detail on their limited-edition whiskies during the tasting would have been the cherry on top for a collector like myself.

What To Do Nearby Kilchoman Distillery

  • Visit Other Renowned Distilleries:
    • Laphroaig: Known for its rich and smoky whiskies.
    • Bruichladdich: Offers unique and innovative whisky expressions.
    • Ardbeg: Famous for its deep, complex flavors.
    • Bunnahabhain: Known for its milder, unpeated Islay whiskies.
  • Outdoor Activities:
    • Hike the Three Distilleries Pathway: A scenic route connecting Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin.
    • Explore Machir Beach: Enjoy stunning coastal views and beach walks.
  • Historical Sites:
    • Kildalton Cross: An ancient and significant Celtic cross.
    • Finlaggan: The historical center of the Lords of the Isles.
  • Cultural Insights:
    • Museum of Islay Life: Offers a deep dive into the island’s history and culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Kilchoman Distillery?

Peatzeria: This Italian and international cuisine restaurant at 22 Shore Street, 6 miles from the distillery. Their contact number is +441496810810.

Port Mor Community Cafe: It has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441496850121. Their address is Port Mòr, Port Charlotte, Isle of Islay PA48 7UE, United Kingdom.

Bowmore Hotel Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.9 stars on Google Maps. Their address is Jamieson St, Bowmore, of Islay PA43 7HL, United Kingdom.

What hotels are near Kilchoman Distillery?

The Lochside Hotel & Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them at +441496810244. Their address is 20 Shore St, Bowmore, Isle of Islay PA43 7LB, United Kingdom.

Port Charlotte Hotel: This hotel also has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. Their contact details are +441496850360, and the address is Main St, Port Charlotte, Isle of Islay PA48 7TU, United Kingdom.

Bridgend Hotel: This hotel has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. The contact information is +441496810212, and the address is Isle of Islay PA44 7PB, Isle of Islay PA44 7PB, United Kingdom.