The “Machir Bay” appears from now on without year specification. Named after the bay not far from the distillery with one of Islay’s most beautiful sandy beaches, the batch-bottled release was labelled with the year of bottling from 2012 to 2014. During this period, the age of the whiskies contained in the bottle increased from year to year. From 2015 onwards, this procedure was abandoned, mainly due to the fact that the cask stocks were still too low. Since then, “Machir Bay” no longer has an explicit year specification – the time of bottling and the batch number can only be recognised by the bottle code – and the age of the whiskies contained was frozen at around 3-5 years and a sherry cask proportion of 10% was specified.
March 23: the third annual release of “Loch Gorm” is available in the online shop for the first time. Bottled from casks filled in 2009 and 2010, it is only slightly older than last year’s version, namely a little over 5 years, the main difference is the use of sherry hogsheads to mature a portion of the whisky rather than just sherry Butts. According to Anthony Wills, these smaller barrels give “Loch Gorm” an increased sherry influence, according to Frans Muthert, the edition should be 10,000 bottles. Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills said: “As well as this year’s release being slightly older, we decided to increase the ratio of single malt matured in smaller sherry hogsheads versus that matured in larger sherry butts. This increases the influence from the sherry casks and gives the whisky a striking intensity and richness. That said, the whisky retains the balance and complexity Kilchoman releases are well-known for.”
April: Kilchoman launched a new limited edition. “Sanaig”, named after a rocky inlet near the distillery, was initially only distributed in Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands. Like the “Machir Bay”, it is a vatting of bourbon and sherry casks and bottled in batches without age statement, only the “Sanaig” has a significantly higher sherry cask content compared to the “Machir Bay”. At the beginning of 2016 Kilchoman made the “Sanaig” its second General Release (i.e. consistently available release) after “Machir Bay”.
May 4: The 5th edition of “100% Islay” is released. Bottled were bourbon barrels from the years 2009 and 2010. Anthony Wills, Kilchoman Founder and Managing Director: »There is a clear difference between the 100% Islay range and other releases, the lighter peating level and maturation exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels gives the whisky a beautiful fragrance and balance. When we first set out to build Kilchoman the ambition was to produce a single malt from barley grown on the distillery farm to give complete control and traceability, we also wanted to echo how whisky was once made on Islay and across Scotland. We are incredibly proud to continue these traditional practices. We expect that followers of Kilchoman will enjoy this latest Edition of the 100% Islay, the added maturation time compared to previous releases has given the whisky added depth and balance, we expect it to be a hit.«
May 23: to mark the 10th anniversary of the distillery, Kilchoman released a special “10th anniversary release”. It is a vatting of sherry and bourbon casks filled between 2005 and 2012 and even includes a percentage of whisky from Cask No. 1/2005, the first cask ever filled at Kilchoman. The limited edition is just 3,000 hand numbered bottles at cask strength. It was sold only at the Distillery Shop at a price of £88.80.
25-28 May: during Fèis Ìle 2015, Kilchoman once again presented a comprehensive programme to festival visitors: Manager Tours with Anthony Wills, Warehouse Masterclass at the Conisby Warehouse, 10th Anniversary Masterclass, Club Members’ Masterclass, “Be a Bottler” – where you can bottle your own bottle of Machir Bay, Still House Visits, Tutored Range Tastings and much more. Live music was provided by the famous Scottish band Skipinnish and the Trail West & Islay Pipe Band. The “Fèis Ìle Release” of 2015 (sold on Kilchoman Open Day, May 28th) is a vatting of three nearly 7 year old 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrels.
June 23: Kilchoman buys Rockside Farm. The Kilchoman Distillery Company Limited announced that they have agreed to buy Rockside Farm where the distillery is located on the Isle of Islay from the current owners. After running the farm for 30 years, Mark and Rohaise French decided to sell the farm to Anthony Wills to devote more time to their 4 grown children and their families. The handover is scheduled for November 2015. Anthony Wills, Managing Director of Kilchoman Distillery commented: “We have always been proud to produce whisky from barley to bottle and the purchase of Rockside Farm secures this vision for the future”.
10th Anniversary Tour: to mark the 10th anniversary of the distillery, Kilchoman is launching a roadshow, as it did last year. Peter and James Wills, the sons of founder and Managing Director Anthony Wills, will tour for 4 weeks in September and October in the Kilchoman Landrover through Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. They will be presenting the entire range of the distillery, in addition to the established bottlings “Machir Bay”, “Sanaig”, “Loch Gorm” and “100% Islay”, as well as the new limited releases “Vintage 2008” and “Madeira Cask”. The tour bottling exclusively available on the tour is a “Machir Bay” in cask strength – edition: 1500 bottles.
Just in time for this year’s roadshow, “Vintage 2008”, the distillery’s oldest bottling to date at 7 years of age, will be released on September 7. It is a vatting of 1st-Fill Ex-Bourbon barrels which were filled in July 2008 and bottled in August 2015. Following the “Vintage 2006” in 2011 and the “Vintage 2007” in 2013, Kilchoman is thus continuing its “Vintage” series, which is released every two years.
The “Madeira Cask Release” will be released on October 5th. After last year’s small edition of the Club Release, which featured a Kilchoman from the Madeira Cask, this is the first major release of this type of cask. For this, 17 ex-Madeira casks filled in 2011 were selected, which resulted in a yield of 6.100 bottles with 50% abv. The “Madeira Release” follows the “Port Cask Release” of 2014 and is a further example of full maturation in casks which are usually only used by other distilleries for post-maturing (“finishing”). Anthony Wills writes “This release is a break from the norm for us, it represents a bit of an experiment with full maturation rather than simply finishing whisky in casks like Madeira. Full maturation means that the impact of the cask is that much greater, the challenge is to ensure the whisky remains balanced and the influence of the Madeira cask is integrated with that of the Kilchoman spirit.“
November 16: After the last year’s Club Release introduced the first Kilchoman from the Madeira Cask, Kilchoman Club members can purchase the first “Sauterne Cask Release” from Kilchoman for GBP 75 with this year’s Club Bottling. Three fresh Sauterne(s) Casks were selected for the release, which were filled in November 2010, December 2010 and January 2011. Bottling in 60% cask strength took place on November 9, 2015 and resulted in a yield of 909 bottles.
December: Kilchoman sold the first bottle of a 10 Year Old whisky at auction, raising £7.000 for charity. The bottle which contains whisky drawn from the first cask laid down on 14 december 2005, was hand bottled by Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills on 14 December 2015 – precisely 10 years after its distillation. The auction, which ran from 7–14 December, was open to bidders around the world through the distillery´s website. The Beatson Cancer Charity was chosen as the beneficiary in support of distillery manager John MacLellan, who is living with prostate cancer. The total was then topped of to £10.000 by the Distillery. In March 2016 James Wills and Rosie MacLellan visited The Beatson to meet the team and present a cheque for £10.000.