Updated 28 January 2021

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Kilchoman Distillery | Islay’s Only Farm Distillery

Opened in 2005, Kilchoman Distillery was the first distillery to be built on Islay since Bunnahabhain in 1883. As a relatively young distillery, Kilchoman released their first single malt in 2009 (the 3-year-old Inaugural Release). In 2015 Kilchoman Distillery became fully integrated as a Farm Distillery, with the acquisition of neighbouring Rockside Farm. Thirty per cent of Kilchoman Distillery's barley is grown on Rockside Farm and goes into producing their 100% Islay Barley Whisky.

A visit to Kilchoman Distillery provides an excellent opportunity to visit one of the few Farm Distilleries in Scotland.

Sepia toned photograph of Kilchoman Distillery Malt House, and Kiln with Pagoda Stack.

Sepia toned photograph of Kilchoman Distillery Malt House, and Kiln with Pagoda Stack.

How to Pronounce Kilchoman

Kilchoman Whisky

Non-chill filtered and natural coloured (no E150a), Kilchoman's core range consists of:

Both of these whiskies are available in a handy gift pack.

Kilchoman Distillery was awarded a Gold and Silver medallion from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2019; Sanaig won Gold for "being an exceptional spirit that is near the pinnacle of achievement and sets the standard for its category", and Machir Bay was awarded Silver for being "an outstanding spirit that shows refinement, finesse, and complexity as well as being amongst the best examples of its category".

Kilchoman whisky is not as widely distributed as some of the other Islay whiskies - if you're in Australia for instance, have a look at Nicks.com.au as they have an excellent range available.

The 2014 Loch Gorm has a "mature arrival for such a young whisky" but not a lot of complexity. Ralfy recommends adding at least 1/2 a teaspoon of water (he adds one) which results in a dram that is "still spirity but extended now, bigger, more voluminous, more complex ... then latterly get a little bit of brown sugar, sultana, vanilla, and additional honey coming through from the cask".

Where is Kilchoman Distillery?

Kilchoman Distillery is on the west coast of Islay, Scotland, 11.7 miles (18.8 km) from Bowmore, and 19.8 miles (31.9km) from the Port Ellen Ferry Terminal.

Kilchoman Distillery Tours, Pricing & Bookings

The Kilchoman Distillery Visitor Centre is currently closed due to to COVID 19, so sadly there are no tours or tastings available at present.

Follow Kilchoman Distillery on Facebook or Twitter for updates, or email tours@kilchomandistillery.com

For bookings Tel: +44 (0) 1496 850011 or book your tour online. Bookings are highly advisable to avoid disappointment.

Kilchoman Visitor Centre and Cafe

The visitor centre and cafe are open daily from 9.45am – 5pm.

Distillery production is on Monday – Friday all year round.

Classic Tour

Classic Distillery Tours run at 10:00 am, 1:30pm and 2:30pm daily, costs £10 and takes approximately 1 hour: includes background information on the distillery as well as an explanation of the complete whisky making process that you will see as you move through the distillery, from the malt floor through to the bottling line. The tour includes a tasting of two Kilchoman whiskies and a Kilchoman glass for you to take home.

Premium Tour

Premium Distillery Tours run at at 11:00 am, costs £35 and takes approximately 2 hours. The Premium Tour includes a more in-depth look at Kilchoman's Farm Distillery philosophy, what makes their single malt so unique, and what plans they have for the future. A tutored tasting of the core range is provided afterwards.

Roving Tasting

A moving tasting experience of five (5) Kilchoman whiskies, sampled as you walk around Kilchoman distillery, including the Malt Floor, Kiln and Warehouse. The Roving Tasting Tour runs at 3:30 pm daily, costs £25 and takes approximately 1 hour.

Whisky and Wilderness Tour - OUR PICK

An exploration of the Kilchoman Distillery farm and surrounding landscape (which is absolutely beautiful). Learn about the history of the area, the local wildlife, and enjoy the spectacular views while enjoying a tasting or two. The Whisky and Wilderness Tour runs at 11:00 am on Thursday, April to September, costs £35, and takes approximately 2.5 hours. An intermediate level of fitness is required, as is appropriate clothing and footwear, as you will be walking through the marsh grounds.

Group Bookings

Group bookings for 8 or more persons, including lunch packages, can also be arranged.

Call in advance if children under the age of 18 would like to do the tour, as limited complimentary places are available. Tastings are only for those aged 18 years and over (proof of age may be required). Take-away samples are available for designated drivers.

View the Kilchoman Distillery Booking Page for more information

Kilchoman Distillery Images

Buffalo Trace whiskey casks for filling at Kilchoman Distillery, Islay, Scotland. Black and white photograph

Buffalo Trace whiskey casks for filling at Kilchoman Distillery, Islay, Scotland. Black and white photograph

Buffalo Trace Casks in the Kilchoman Distillery courtyard, awaiting filling.

Buffalo Trace Casks in the Kilchoman Distillery courtyard, awaiting filling.

Red draff trailer parked against the stone wall of the still/mash house at Kilchoman Distillery

Waste solids (barley grist) from the mash tun are fed to cattle on the Kilchoman Distillery Farm.

Auger malt conveyor built into Kilchoman's Malt Floor, sepia toned photograph

Auger conveyor built into Kilchoman's Malt Floor to help move the malted barley from the floor to the grain silos. Kilchoman Distillery grow and malt 30% of their barley (200 tons annually), and the remainder is obtained from Diageo via the Port Ellen Maltings. Kilchoman malt 2 tonnes of barley every week.

Colour photograph of the open kiln at Kilchoman Distillery

The kiln at Kilchoman Distillery. The peating process takes roughly 10 hours, bringing the peatyness of the barley up to around 20-25 ppm. Unpeated hot air is then used for a further 40 hours to thoroughly dry the grain. After drying in the kiln, the barley will be stored for at least 2 weeks prior to milling and mashing.

Kilchoman Distillery's Porteus Patent Mill viewed from above, black and white photograph

Kilchoman Distillery were able to procure a Porteus Patent Malt Mill from an old Yorkshire brewery. It's quite a bit smaller than the Porteus mills you'll find at Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Bunnahabhain. Black and white photograph

Kilchoman Distillery's copper topped mash tun, colour photograph

Kilchoman's Mash Tun holds 1.2 tonne of grist. Up to 4,600 litres of water is added at a time over 3 mash cycles, producting 6,000 litres of wort.

Kilchoman Distillery's four washbacks, black and white photograph

Kilchoman Distillery has four washbacks. Each washback holds 6000 L. The fermentation time of the wort is around 84 hours.

Kilchoman Distillery's spirit still and spirit safe, black and white photograph

Spirit safe and spirit still at Kilchoman Distillery. The spirit still is charged with 1600-1700 lires of low wines and produces 300 litres of 'heart'. Black and white photograph

Spirit still at Kilchoman Distillery, black and white photograph

The Spirit still at Kilchoman Distillery has a capacity of 2070 litres and is charged with around 1700 litres.  Each run of the spirit still produces around 300 litres of spirit. Kilchoman's total spirit output is around 125,000 litres per year.

Receivers and pipe-work underneath the Wash and Spirit Stills at Kilchoman Distillery. Black and white photograph

Receivers and pipe-work underneath the Wash and Spirit Stills at Kilchoman Distillery. 

Open wash still steaming at Kilchoman Distillery, steam visible inside the still, colour photograph

Open wash still steaming at Kilchoman Distillery as the pot ale waste liquid drains away. It will be re-used as fertiliser on the Kilchoman Distillery farm.

Steamy view inside the wash still at Kilchoman Distillery as the hot pot ale drains away

Inside the wash still at Kilchoman Distillery as the waste liquid (pot ale) drains away. It will be re-used as fertiliser on the Kilchoman Distillery farm.

Front view of Cask number one at Kilchoman Distillery. Writing on cask says 'Kilchoman Distillery Cask Number One December 14, 2005"

Cask Number One at Kilchoman Distillery - conceived December 14, 2005.

Purple toned black and white photograph of a 2009 Kilchoman Distillery Cask, decanted 28 Sept 2017.

Purple toned black and white photograph of a 2009 Kilchoman Distillery Cask, decanted 28 Sept 2017.

Kilchoman Distillery Warehouse, Racked 2017 Casks. Sepia toned photograph

Kilchoman Distillery Warehouse, Racked 2017 Casks. Sepia toned photograph

What Else Is Nearby

Accommodation

References & Further Reading

About the author

Amanda

Amanda is an Australian-born photographer, digital nomad and whisky lover. Her passion for travel and whisky lead her to Islay, where she fell in love with an Ileach (an Islay native). Amanda and Roddy now share their Spirited Adventures.

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