Kilchoman: 90% Islay, 10% magic

Kilchoman 100% Islay

If you are following our tweets you know I was on Islay last week, just for a day, to see what guys at Kilchoman were up to. What a way to visit Islay by the way, woke up in my own bed and was back home for dinner – charter planes may not be the greenest way to travel but they are certainly convenient. Thanks, Kilchoman!

The day was all about the new bottling from the distillery – Kilchoman 100% Islay – first whisky for decades, or as was at some point suggested – more than 100 years, to be made entirely on the island. Kilchoman grew their own barley, malted it on site peating to 25+ ppm, distilled spirit, matured and hand bottled at the distillery. Are you impressed? I certainly was. I must say I regained much of my faith in single malt when I tasted the product and, just for a day, I felt like I went back in time to days when international corporations weren’t shipping spirit away from Islay in shiny 40k litre tankers to mature in Central Belt, in facilities so vast they can be seen from the Moon, and then feed us ‘marketing truth’ about sea air influence and hint ’boutique’ scale of production. To see someone go against the grain in such environment and produce whisky so honestly and simply is inspiring. Kilchoman didn’t use hand-cut crystal, didn’t encrust the case with diamonds, didn’t line it with kitten fur. Instead they added value by taking a step back. That’s my kind of business model.

The 100% Islay Kilchoman is a little over 3 years ago. Bottled at 50% ABV, it’s pale, young, not expensive for a piece of whisky history, collectable. The whisky is presented in the new Kilchoman bottle which will from now on be used across all the expressions, with the exception of whisky going to the US – they need 75cl bottles and Kilchoman still has supply of those.


Kilchoman Inaugural 100% Islay
50% ABV
£69 directly

Nose: Jumps out at you! Concentrated and developed for a 3yo. Burned lemon peel and sharp green pear notes. Quite chalky, like a blackboard. Ginger beer, rhubarb and cream sweets. Intense tobacco smoke, elevated further by water.

Palate: Juicy, smoky, citrus, bread, marzipan. In this order.

Finish: More fruit emerges here, rhubarb reappears. Shortish.

Overall: It has been said before but can’t be stressed enough – if you like Ardbeg and Caol Ila, you are likely to appreciate Kilchoman. It lives in the same cluster of citrusy, marzipany freshness with heaps of smoke on top. It doesn’t quite have the punch of Ardbeg or the balance and clarity of Caol Ila but that’s not the point. It is great in it’s own way and it sits comfortably between the two giants it is often compared to. This particular expression shows deep smokiness and mineral complexity which I love.

What else can I say? Get a bottle, I did.


Update: Yes, there is also an Inaugural Cask Strength (61.3% ABV) limited bottling made up of 4 ex-bourbon casks which you can get for £149 ONLY at the distillery. Sorry for initially mixing strengths up.


  1. Hasn’t Bruichladdich been making Islay whisky like this for a while already? I mean, local farms, peat, distillation, maturation and bottling all on the same island? Take the Ocotomore, for example, which is named after Octomore farm.

  2. David, I was under impression that Laddich used 100% Scottish barley but not necessarily Islay.

  3. To my knowledge they produce loads of different bottlings, and some of these actually include 100% ‘barley to bottle’ Islay productions (with the exception of the odd fancy wine cask). In fact, even their energy is intended to be generated locally – so it’s truly all produced on the island in some instances.

    There’s a little more on them supporting local farms here:

    But I’ll have a see if I can find the bottles which mention the farms.

    Either way, they’ve been working along these lines for quite a while now – and some of them taste rather nice too!

  4. In fact, I have found what could be it!

    It even tells you the farm it came from. Organic, too.

  5. David is partially correct:

    Bruichladdich does have a few 100% Islay whiskies (I’ve got the Islay Barley 2004 from the 2010 Festival right here, all from Kentraw Farm) but also buys in other (Scottish) Barley. They state their goal is 100%.

    The Octomore however isn’t one of them, it is named Octomore for the water supply, as that’s where the water comes from. That’s not to say there isn’t any Islay barley in that. James Brown (who owns Octomore Farm) is certainly planting barley for Bruichladdich.

  6. I would like to comment that although Bruichladdich use barley grown on islay the difference at Kilchoman is that we malt the barley on our malt floor whereas Bruichladdich take the barley to the mainland to be malted.

  7. Thanks Anthony, that settles it then:)

  8. I was surprised at the complexity in the flavors, considering that this whisky is only three years old. A delightful Islay malt!

  9. A fine post. I really admire the example of Kilchoman and I am looking forward to trying this whisky. I seriously hope their methods do prove to be a rewarding business model. The value of their model to the heritage and culture of whisky is immense. It is, as you point out, a necessary antidote to the influence of commercialism on production.

  10. Great to see Kilchoman provoking debate which is of course a lot of what whisky is about.
    Look out for our first mainstream 5y.o. reduced to 46% un – chillfiltered and natural colour , available now and we believe a cracking dram.
    available now from the distillery and quality drinks shops.


  11. Various people all over the world get the mortgage loans from different banks, just because it is simple.

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