- From 16-17 May, the first Spirit of the West Festival took place at Inveraray Castle as part of Homecoming Scotland Whisky Month 2009, dedicated to the whisky distilleries in the west of Scotland and the country’s cuisine and culture. The event, which was opened by the world-famous Red Hot Chilli Pipers on Saturday, brought numerous whisky lovers from near and far to the banks of Loch Fyne.
All sixteen distilleries located in the west of Scotland, from the oldest, such as Bowmore, to the youngest, such as Kilchoman, took a stand and showed various expressions of single malt. Kilchoman presented a pre-release sample of the very first Kilchoman whisky, which is due to be released on 9 September 2009.
- 28 May: at the Islay Whisky Festival, Anthony Wills auctions off the first bottle of Kilchoman Single Malt Whisky for charity. It was taken from the first Kilchoman cask filled on 14.12.2005 (bottled on 22.5.2009, 60.7%). The Danish businessman and Kilchoman shareholder Nils Ladefoged, who lives in the UK, bought it at auction for £5,400.
- On 5 June 2009, the editor of Whisky Magazine, Rob Allanson, photographer Ken Hamilton and Tom Morton from the BBC visited the Kilchoman distillery. On a five-day motorbike trip, they set themselves the goal of selecting whiskies from the northernmost, southernmost, easternmost, westernmost and most central distilleries in Scotland to create a Blended Malt Scotch Whisky. The trio travelled on motorbikes provided by the well-known brands Triumph and Royal Enfield.
Anthony Wills guided the three travellers through the Kilchoman distillery and, with the help of his son James, cask samples were taken from a 1st Fill Bourbon Barrel, a Refill Bourbon Barrel and a three-month Oloroso Sherry Finish.
At an evening tasting at the Port Askaig Hotel, Rob, Ken and Tom decided in favour of the Refill Bourbon Barrel. The resulting whisky, Journey’s Blend, which will be put together by Edrington Group Master Blender John Ramsay, will also contain whiskies from the Highland Park, Bladnoch, Glenturret and Glen Garioch distilleries.
- 9 September (9.9.9): with the “Kilchoman Inaugural Release”, the first Kilchoman whisky is released, a milestone in the still young history of Kilchoman.
The whisky was first matured for between 2,5 to 3 years in fresh bourbon barrels before being finished for 5 month in fresh oloroso sherry butts. Like all future Kilchoman whiskies, it was not coloured and not chill-filtered. The edition is 8,450 bottles.
Anthony Wills had invited to the “Inaugural Single Malt Launch Party” for this day and celebrated the release of the first Kilchoman whisky with many whisky celebrities (including the managers of the other Islay distilleries).
From 10 September, it was available in 14 countries worldwide (Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland).
- 26 to 28 September: Whisky Live Paris 2009: Anthony and James Wills attended the whisky fair Whisky Live Paris, where alongside the Kilchoman Inaugural Release, the world’s first release of a Kilchoman single cask (No. 232/2006) bottled just 6 days later for the French importer La Maison du Whisky was presented.
At the Icons of Whisky Dinner on Friday evening, the 3-year-old Kilchoman Single Cask had to hold its own against a Glenfiddich 40 year old, Glendronach 1972 Single Cask and Ardbeg 1998 Single Cask on the menu and was very well received. The 253 bottles were already sold out on Sunday.
- The Scottish Field Whisky Challenge took place on 6 November and the results published in the December issue of the magazine.
Kilchoman was delighted to win a distinction in the £30 to £75 retail price range, with the Inaugural Release competing against much older malts and the joint winners being a Glengoyne 21 yo and a Strathisla 30yo. Not bad for a 3 year old!
- 30 November 30: with the “Autumn 2009 Release” the 2nd limited edition of Kilchoman is released. Until the beginning of 2011, new editions will follow every quarter. This time it is a whisky that was first matured in fresh ex-Bourbon barrels for 3 years before being finished in Oloroso Sherry Butts for two and a half months. The circulation of 10.000 bottles is sold in 15 countries worldwide – Taiwan was added as a new market.