Back to Islay today and a chance to look at what, since the sale of Bruichladdich distilery earlier this year, is the island’s only remaining independent distillery. A sad thought perhaps but the young Kilchoman is flying the flag for small scale production with considerable aplomb. Opening in 2005 as the island’s “farm distillery”, Kilchoman was always intended to offer spirit that was sown, grown, malted, distilled and bottled on Islay. However, in order to deal with the considerable pressures that face any new distillery, the majority of the production has relied upon barley sourced from external maltsters.
The desire to taste whisky from Islay’s first new distillery in 124 years was always going to be considerable. Indeed, since opening Kilchoman has offered a surprisingly constant flow of offerings. It’s fair to say that the spirit quality has always met with wide acclaim; however the same may not be said for all of the sometimes pricy releases. That is always a hazard of offering whisky that is clearly in a process of maturation rather than at the peak of its powers of course, though in my view Kilchoman distillery is not the very worst of culprits. This bottling draws us back to the beginning of the story though; the first release of a true, 100% Islay produced whisky and that must surely pique the interest of any whisky lover.