- April 20: On the eve of the famous “Whisky Fair 2018” in Limburg, the whisky bar “Villa Konthor” was the first German location to be awarded the title of a “Comraich-Bar”. Peter Wills, Marketing and Sales Manager of Kilchoman and the German importer “Alba Import” awarded the title and guided the guests through the evening at a “Kilchoman Comraich Dinner”. In addition to the “Comraich Batch No. 1”, five more Kilchoman whiskies could be tasted, including the new “Port Cask Release 2018” and the new “Loch Gorm 2018”.
Kilchoman is launching a new marketing concept with the “Comraich-Bars”. In selected bars spread around the globe, which are distinguished by a large selection of whisky in general and of course Kilchoman whisky in particular, you will be able to taste the batchwise bottled “Comraich Whisky” exclusively. Kilchoman and the respective importers take great care to ensure that the whisky is only poured there and does not end up on the market.
- April 24: Kilchoman proudly announces that the new kiln and malt floor building has been completed. The malt floor and the new kiln are more than twice the size of their predecessors built in 2005. The new malting floor will allow up to 4 tons of barley to be malt per week, almost doubling the output of 100% Islay distillate. Kilchoman also emphasizes that the new building gives the distillery the flexibility to vary the phenol content of the malt (which was previously around 20 ppm) in the future.
The newly built Kiln building is just the start of a whole series of construction measures over the next two years, which should ultimately lead to a doubling of production. Thus the Still House will be extended and equipped with 2 new stills of identical shape and size and a second Mash Tun. The number of washbacks will also be doubled from 6 to 12. A number of new warehouses will be built to accommodate the significantly increased amount of newly filled casks, and a new and significantly larger visitor centre will be created by converting and extending the former pony stables.
- April 26: The first annual limited editions are released: the Sherry Cask release “Loch Gorm” and at the same time the “Port Cask Matured 2nd Edition”.
For the 2018 “Loch Gorm” edition, 19 Oloroso Sherry Butts from 2007, 2008 and 2011 were married together. This resulted in a yield of 15,000 bottles with an alcohol content of 46% abv.
After the much-praised first Port Cask release in 2014, the 2nd edition has been released in 2018. For these, 30 Ruby Port Hogsheads were selected, all of which were filled in 2014, i.e. almost 4 years old. These are 1st Fill as well as 2nd Fill Port Hogsheads, i.e. some casks of the 1st edition have been used here again. The edition is 10.00 bottles, filled with an alcohol content of 50% abv.
- The 31st of May, the Kilchoman Open Day at Fèis Ìle 2018 offered as always an extensive programme. Farm tours with General Manger Islay Heads, a masterclass with Anthony Wills on the 100% Islay philosophy, a masterclass for Kilchoman Club members with George, James and Peter Wills, warehouse tastings, tutored range tastings, still house visits and “Be a bottler”, the popular opportunity to fill your own bottle of Machir Bay or, in the premium variant, a single cask release, alongside live music, plenty of food and drink made for a thoroughly successful day.
Of course, the 2018 Fèis Ìle Release was also available for purchase exclusively, this year an 11-year-old vatting from 4 bourbon barrels from 2007 and of course sold out in no time.
July 14: After a long period of preparation, the completely redesigned Kilchoman website was launched. It is characterized by a more modern design and contains significantly more interactive elements.
September 13: Kilchoman announced a new European marketing tour. Three years after the last European Tour, the famous Kilchoman Landrover will tour from September 24 to November 11 through 9 (!) European countries with a new trailer:
- UK 24.–30.09.2018
- Belgium and Luxembourg 1.–6.10.2018
- The Netherlands 8.–13.10.2018
- Germany 15.–20.10.2018
- Austria 22.–23.10.2018
- Italy 25.–28.10.2018
- Switzerland 30.–31.10.2018
- France 6.–11.11.2018
During the tour there is again an exclusive bottling of a Machir Bay in cask strength, the 2.310 bottles are only sold at the tour events.
- October 1: Release of the “Sauternes Cask Finish 2018 Edition”, a vatting of 30 bourbon barrels from 2012 that have undergone a 5-month finish in Sauternes Hogsheads. The edition is the latest edition of the limited releases from various wine casks that Kilchoman has launched since 2014. While the earlier representatives of the range were fully matured in Port, Madeira, Sauternes or Red Wine casks, Anthony Wills says the wine finish is intended to take a slightly different path, leading to a more balanced character between the floral notes of Sauternes casks and the vanilla and caramel notes of the bourbon barrels. 10,000 bottles were bottled at 50% abv.
- November: With the “Machir Bay Collaborative Vatting”, Kilchoman is offering local whisky stores a new product line, which is intended to offer them individual bottlings below the level of their own single cask release.
The normal Machir Bay bottlings are known to have an Oloroso sherry cask content of about 10%, but with Collaborative Vatting, the respective dealer can choose between four different variants with slightly different proportions: 5%, 7.5%, 12.5% and 15% sherry cask whisky. The boxes and bottles in the normal Machir Bay design will feature an additional label displaying the specific proportions chosen by each store. The minimum order quantity is 120 bottles.
“The Collaborative Vatting Program is a great opportunity for us to work with our customers to create a bespoke version of Machir Bay tailored to their personal preferences.
Small adjustments in the proportions of Bourbon and Sherry maturation can have a profound effect on a whisky’s character so it will be interesting to see how people alter the percentages.” Anthony Wills, Kilchoman Founder and Managing Director.
- November 11: Introduction of NFC Labels: Kilchoman is one of the first Scottish whisky distilleries to announce the introduction of NFC labels on its two general releases “Machir Bay” and “Sanaig”. By means of so-called Near Field Communication, buyers of the bottles can briefly touch the label with their smartphones and then receive on their mobile phones further information about the bottlings, such as taste notes, information about the casks used and other information about limited releases from Kilchoman. Anthony Wills explained the introduction by pointing out that whisky buyers’ growing hunger for information could be satisfied in a very elegant and bottling specific way. To launch the labels, Kilchoman is launching a competition in which a cask of Kilchoman whisky (!) is raffled off to a lucky winner.
- November 28: the 7th annual bottling for members of the Kilchoman Club is released, a new milestone in the history of Kilchoman whiskies. It is a vatting of two Oloroso Sherry Butts from 2006, the contents of casks no. 309 & 310/2006 were distilled on 1.11.2006 and bottled on 7.11.2018 with an strength of 55.2% abv. This is not only the second 12-year-old Kilchoman whisky ever, but also by far the oldest fully matured sherry whisky that Kilchoman lovers have ever tasted.
Anthony Wills writes about it: “The Club Release is a special bottling, I always take great care when selecting these casks and this year I was really torn, these two casks are some of our rarest stock, we simply don’t have many old sherry casks. That said, I believe they are at their peak, the balance is exquisite and as much as I might want to leave them in the warehouse for sentimental reasons, they were too good to overlook.”