21 February 2020: Celebration to mark the opening of the new still house and visitor centre
On Friday 21 February, Kilchoman celebrated with 150 invited guests – family, friends, colleagues and business partners – the opening of the new still house and visitor centre.
This marked the completion of the ambitious £6 million expansion programme of recent years, the aim of which was to double production capacity to meet the increasing demand for Kilchoman whisky in the future (we reported).
The new still house, extending out from the gable end of the old still house, contains two new stills, a new mashtun and six additional washbacks which doubles the production capacity to 480,000 LOA. The stills and mashtun are an exact copy of the originals. The new still house will also give Kilchoman the ability to experiment more during the malting process and change the peating levels, up and down, and look at the influence yeast varieties have on spirit character and follow specific spirit runs and monitor these as they mature in the warehouses.
The final phase of the expansion programme was the completion of a new visitor centre with shop and café. One of the former pony stables was converted into a café and a new spacious extension with a shop area, glass window tasting rooms and a bar was built.
Guests at the opening ceremony received a bottle of Kilchoman whisky specially bottled for the occasion.
February 2020: German importer Alba Import and Kilchoman separate
With effect from 6 April 2020, Alba Import is no longer the German importer of Kilchoman whisky. As Dietmar Schulz of Alba Import told us, the ideas of how the brand should be represented in Germany in the future and through which distribution channels the Kilchoman whiskies should be placed had clearly diverged between the two business partners in recent years. In particular, Alba Import’s focus on the specialist spirits trade was apparently no longer regarded by Kilchoman as sufficient for the further sales increases it was striving for.
Alba Import had represented the distillery in Germany for 14 years, i.e. practically from the very first days, and had built up the Kilchoman brand in Germany with a great deal of commitment.
February 2020: First “unpeated” Kilchoman whiskies released
Over the years, Kilchoman has worked only very sporadically with unpeated malt from the farm’s own barley; a somewhat larger batch (75 casks) was produced in late summer 2012 due to a breakdown of the kiln. Now the first two single cask bottlings with “unpeated” whisky have been released.
Kilchoman usually writes “unpeated” in inverted commas or uses the term “slightly peated” because despite the use of unpeated malt, the whisky still has very slight peat smoke notes. As is well known, the foreshots and feints separated from the middle run are collected in the “low wines and feints receiver” and distilled again during the next distillation. As this receiver was not emptied in between the alternating distillery runs with peated malt and the pipes were not rinsed each time, the distillate still shows slight peat smoke notes.
The first two releases were two sherry hogsheads (no. 553/2012 and 554/2012), in which the whisky was matured for a good 7 years. The bottling of cask no. 553/2012 was released for £100 by the well-known British wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, the contents of cask no. 554/2012 could be tasted at the floating whisky fair “Viking Cinderella Whisky Fair” (13.-15.2.2020) and bought for 999 Swedish crowns.
20 March 2020: Friday Night In with Anthony Wills
On 20 March 2020, Kilchoman invited whisky fans to a “Friday Night In with Anthony Wills” for the first time. Live on Instagram, Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills reported on distillery news and in particular on the opening of the new Still House and the the new Visitor Centre, which marked the completion of the expansion programme started in 2017 to double production capacity.
He answered questions from the audience and tasted the Core Range whiskies Machir Bay, Sanaig, 100% Islay 9th Edition and the upcoming Loch Gorm 2020 release.
This event marked the start of a series of regular online tastings, which from April 2020 onwards have expanded to become truly interactive live tastings via pre-sent tasting packs.
In times of the Corona pandemic, without tasting tours, whisky fairs and a mostly closed visitor centre, this extremely successful series developed into Kilchoman’s most important marketing tool. Whisky fans were always kept up to date in detail about all developments and could taste the latest whiskies.
27 March 2020: Friday Night In with Anthony and James Wills. Tasting Kilchoman through the ages
The second “Friday Night In” took place just one week after the first on 27 March 2020. Anthony Wills was supported by his son James for the first time.
Under the motto “Tasting Kilchoman through the ages”, the following three whiskies were tasted:
- Spring Release 2011 (3 years old)
- Vintage 2010 (9 years old)
- Distillery Shop Exclusive Sherry Cask (11 years old)
3 April 2020: 3rd Kilchoman Online Tasting with Anthony & James Wills: Cask Samples
With the 3rd edition of the online tastings on 3.4.2020, the format of the series was significantly expanded. In addition to Instagram, the tastings could now also be followed live via Facebook and Twitter, and tasting packs of the tasted whiskies could now be purchased in advance via the distillery’s website. This allows Kilchoman fans to taste the whiskies at the same time as the online tasting and to have a real interactive exchange with the organisers.
The following samples were included in the Tasting Pack:
- 20ml Bourbon Barrel 338/2008 – 52.8%
- 20ml Madeira Cask 765/2011 – 55%
- 20ml Cognac Finish 980/2014 – 58.5%
- 20ml Sherry Hogshead 423/2007 – 54% (typo on the label, it is a Sherry Butt)
- 20ml New Make ‘Sanitiser’ – 63.5%
- Kilchoman Branded Glencairn Tasting Glass
These were all single cask samples, and the cognac finish was a Kilchoman world premiere. With the additional “sanitiser” (with which one can of course also disinfect one’s hands), Kilchoman fans were also given the rare opportunity to taste the extremely fruity Kilchoman New Make.
As the 70 tasting packs were sold out within minutes, Kilchoman announced a significant increase in quantity for the next planned tasting on 10 April.
6 April 2020: Loch Gorm 2020 Edition released
As the first limited release of 2020, the new “Loch Gorm” was released on 6 April. As is well known, this is the series named after the loch near the distillery, which exclusively contains Kilchoman whisky matured in oloroso sherry casks. For the 2020 bottling, 21 oloroso sherry butts from 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 were selected. The edition is 15,500 bottles, bottled as usual with “Loch Gorm” with an alcohol strength of 46% abv.
A limited number of bottles were available from 6 April for £69.90 via the Kilchoman homepage. From the middle of April, the first bottles appeared in whisky shops all over the world, but due to the Corona crisis, delivery was delayed in some countries.
Anthony Wills wrote: “Overall there are a lot of similarities between the 2019 and 2020 expressions however the 2020 bottling is much more fruit forward, there’s a bit less of the dry sherry influence and more dried fruits and cinnamon sweetness.”
10 April 2020: 4th Online Tasting with Anthony & James Wills: 2020 Preview
Already one week after the 3rd Online Tasting, the 4th Online Tasting with Anthony and James Wills took place. This time, the focus was on a preview of the four limited releases for 2020:
- Loch Gorm 2020 – 46%. A sample of the recently vatted and bottled Loch Gorm 2020, released on April 6th.
- Am Bùrach Sample – Cask No. 4060, 46%. Sample of a cask going into the vatting of »Am Bùrach«, announced for May 2020.
- 100% Islay Bourbon Barrel – Cask No. 191/2011, 55.3%. Sample of a cask going into the vatting of the 10th edition of “100% Islay”, announced for autumn 2020.
- Fino Cask – Cask No. 294/2016, 59%. Sample of a cask going into the vatting of the final limited edition of 2020: Fino Sherry Release, announced for October.
- New Make Sanitiser – 63.5%. A sample of Kilchoman New Make, which, thanks to its alcohol content of over 60%, can certainly also be used as a hand disinfectant…
- Kilchoman Glencairn Tasting Glass
The number of Tasting Packs, which could be purchased for £19.99 + shipping in the distillery’s online shop, has been increased to 200 after, as reported above, demand at the 3rd tasting could not be met.
April 2020: Madeira Finish Single Cask 765/2011 (Online Shop Exclusive)
At the 3rd Kilchoman Online Tasting with Anthony and James Wills on 3 April 2020, the Madeira Finish Single Cask was one of the highlights. Shortly afterwards, Kilchoman released it as the first of a series of Single Cask bottlings that could be purchased exclusively via the distillery’s online shop. In times when they didn’t release distillery shop-only bottlings due to the closed visitor centre, this online shop exclusive range was a nice alternative.
Distilled on 9 December 2011, the whisky was first matured for almost 7 years in a 1st-fill ex-bourbon barrel and then matured in a fresh Madeira hogshead for 19 months (!). On 3 April 2020, 254 bottles with an alcohol content of 55.0% were bottled.
24 April 2020: 5th Online Tasting with Anthony & James Wills: Small Batch Releases + Fèis Ìle 2020
On 24 April 2020, the 5th online tasting already took place, where Anthony and James Wills tasted some Kilchoman whiskies live in the new visitor centre, as usual.
The Tasting Pack this time included some whiskies from the Small Batch range and a first sample of this year’s Fèis Ìle release:
- UK Small Batch – Madeira – 70% Bourbon / 5% Oloroso Sherry / 25% Madeira
- Netherlands Small Batch – PX Sherry – 85% Bourbon / 5% Oloroso Sherry / 10% PX Sherry
- Belgium Small Batch – STR – 70% Bourbon / 5% Oloroso Sherry / 25% STR
- Fèis Ìle 2020 – Vatting of bourbon barrels from the years 2007 and 2008 with a minimum age of 12 years
The Tastings Packs could be purchased from 15 April 2020 for £19.99 + shipping on the Kilchoman homepage. Their number was increased again to now 600 due to the great demand at the previous Tastings.
12 May 2020: Sales start of Fèis Ìle Release and Tasting Packs postponed / Cognac Finish Single Cask (Online Shop Exclusive) released
The long announced and massively on all social media promoted sales launch of bottles and tasting packs for the virtual Fèis Ìle 2020 on 12 May had to be cancelled shortly after the announced start. Although Kilchoman said it had prepared its website for the increase in traffic, it was overwhelmed by the huge demand, so that the Fèis items could not be posted at 2pm GMT as planned.
A new attempt was made on 14 May, this time everything went smoothly.
Following Kilchoman’s exclusive online shop release of a Madeira Finish Single Cask in mid-April, the second highlight from the 3rd Kilchoman Online Tasting with Anthony and James Wills on 3 April 2020 followed on 12 May with a Cognac Finish Single Cask.
Unlike its predecessor, the Cognac Finish Single Cask was sold out within one day. This may be due to the fact that the Cognac Release was a Kilchoman world premiere, but a major factor was certainly the pre-sale of the Fèis Ìle Release announced on that day, which brought countless visitors to the Kilchoman site. Unlike the Fèis Ìle Release and the Tasting Packs, the Cognac Finish Release could be purchased without any problems.
Distilled on 10.12.2014, the whisky was first matured for almost 5 years in a 1st-fill ex-bourbon barrel and then matured in a Cognac Bossuet barrique for 7 months. On 4 May 2020, 239 bottles with an alcohol content of 58.1% were bottled.
28 May 2020: Kilchoman Open Day at the virtual Fèis Ìle 2020
As is well known, due to the Corona crisis, the Islay Festival Fèis Ìle in 2020 was held for the first time only virtually. From 23.5.2020 to 30.5.2020, the individual distilleries presented themselves on their respective day with a more or less extensive online programme with tastings, auctions, virtual tours, discussion rounds and music. As usual, most distilleries also released a Fèis Ìle special bottling.
The Kilchoman Open Day was Thursday, May 28. The distillery presented the following programme for this day:
12 noon (Islay Time) – BARLEY – A talk abouts barley, cows, sheep and Islay with General Manager, Islay Heads.
13.00 – MALTING – Maltman Derek Scott explains the art of floor malting.
14.00 – DISTILLING – Discussion of the intricacy of stills and the distillation process with Production Manager, Robin Bignal.
15.00 – CASKS – Off to the warehouses for an overview of the maturing stocks with Anthony Wills, Kilchoman Founder.
16.00 – BOTTLING – Last but not least a look inside the bottling hall with Bottling Manager, Michal Besser.
18.00 – LIVE TASTING – GEORGE & PETER’S CORE RANGE – George & Peter Wills tasted through the best known core range and limited edition Kilchoman’s including the Machir Bay, Sanaig, Loch Gorm 2020 and 100% 9th Edition.
- Machir Bay – Core Expression – THE Kilchoman signature whisky matured mainly in bourbon barrels and approx. 10% in oloroso sherry casks.
- Sanaig – Core Expression – Although also matured in both sherry and bourbon casks, Sanaig has a high proportion of oloroso influence, giving a vastly different character to the whisky.
- Loch Gorm 2020 – Limited Edition – The 2020 edition of Loch Gorm is a vatting of 21 oloroso sherry butts from 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.
- 100% Islay 9th Edition – Limited Edition – Distilled from the farm’s own barley from 2007 and 2009, the 9th edition of the annual 100% Islay is a vatting of 43 ex-bourbon barrels that have been matured for over 9 years.
19.00 – LIVE TASTING – ANTHONY WILLS’ BARLEY AND YEAST – Anthony Wills explored how different barley and yeast varieties influence the character of Kilchoman whisky.
- Concerto Barley – Bourbon Barrel 784/2019 – Label Info: Barley Variety: Concerto, Field: Stone Cottage Field, Sown May, harvested September 2018, Kilchoman Malted: Peating Level 20ppm, Cask Type: Fresh Bourbon Barrel (Buffalo Trace), Distilled 07/07/2019, Bottled 04/05/2020
- Octavia Barley – Bourbon Barrel 935/2019 – Label Info: Barley Variety: Octavia, Field: Stone Cottage Field, Sown May, harvested September 2018, Kilchoman Malted: Peating Level 20ppm, Cask Type: Fresh Bourbon Barrel (Buffalo Trace), Distilled 07/07/2019, Bottled 04/05/2020
- Mauri Yeast – Oloroso Hogshead 429/2019 – Barley source: Port Ellen Malting,Peating Level: 50ppm. Yeast: Mauri. Cask Type: Oloroso Hogshead Distilled: 07/05/2019 Bottled: 04/05/2020
- Kerry Yeast – Oloroso Hogshead 497/2019 – Barley source: Port Ellen Malting,Peating Level: 50ppm. Yeast: Kerry. Cask Type: Oloroso Hogshead Distilled: 25/05/2019 Bottled: 04/05/2020
20.00 – LIVE TASTING / Q&A – FÈIS ÌLE RELEASE – Anthony Wills
The number of bottles for the 2020 Fèis Ìle release has been significantly increased to 2,630 bottles with an alcohol content of 54.2% due to the cancellation of the festival and the resulting online sales. It is a vatting of 11 bourbon barrels from 2007 and 2008 with a minimum age of 12 years.
20 May 2020: Royal Mile Whiskies Kilchoman Online-Tasting. With Anthony Wills & Arthur Motley
The Kilchoman online tasting on 20 May was not organised by Kilchoman itself but by the well-known Edinburgh whisky merchant Royal Mile Whiskies.
Anthony Wills and Arthur Motley from Royal Mile Whiskies tasted four different Kilchomans. The corresponding Tasting Packs could be purchased on the homepage of Royal Mile Whiskies for £20.95 + shipping. 300 packs of 4 x 2cl samples each were prepared by Kilchoman for this purpose.
The following whiskies were to be tasted:
- Loch Gorm 2020. A sample of the new “Loch Gorm”, which was released on April 6.
- Am Bùrach. Sample of the “Am Bùrach” announced for May 2020.
- “Unpeated” Kilchoman. Sample of another cask of Kilchoman whisky made from unpeated malt.
- Fino Cask. Sample of the final limited edition of 2020, announced for October.
Due to an error, the tasting packs contained a sample of the UK Small Batch No. 1 Madeira instead of the Fino sample. However, after the tasting, Royal Mile Whiskies gave all interested parties the opportunity to order a Fino sample.
28 May 2020: Sales start of Am Burach
The Kilchoman Open Day at the virtual Fèis Ìle 2020 was not only marked by a multitude of excellent online contributions from the distillery, but also the official sales launch of the second limited release of 2020: Am Bùrach.
Behind the mysterious sounding name is the story of an accident. In 2014, an operating error on the valves of the two vatting tanks used by Kilchoman to marry the casks of the major releases caused the contents of the two tanks to mix. One was currently holding a batch of Machir Bay, the other was holding Kilchoman’s first Port Wine Release announced for 2014. Anthony Wills was anything but enthusiastic about the incident, his “what a mess” was translated into Gaelic by General Manager Islay Heads as “Am Bùrach”, giving the whole thing at least a poetic sounding name. Anyway, this involuntary blend was of course too good to be thrown away and so it was decided to fill it back into bourbon barrels and store it again to decide later what to do with it. Incidentally, the Port Wine Release then appeared in 2014 in a much smaller edition than announced…
After 6 years of maturation, Anthony Wills found that the contents of these casks had developed into a thoroughly delicious whisky. To round it off and to enhance the fruity character, it was then matured for another 6 months in small 100l Ruby Port casks.
28 May – 11 June 2020: 1st round of Kilchoman Cask Auction
On 21 May 2020, Anthony Wills announced another highlight of the Kilchoman anniversary year. On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Kilchoman distillery – which, as is well known, was officially opened at the Fèis Ìle 2005 – a total of 15 casks will be auctioned in 2020 in 3 tranches of 5 casks each of Kilchoman New Make. Interested parties were able to bid on the first five casks from 28 May until 11 June.
The first tranche achieved the following highest bids:
- Bourbon Barrel: £12.000
- Oloroso Sherry Hogshead: £12.500
- Madeira Hogshead: £11.911
- Port Hogshead: £11.700
- STR Hogshead: £10.900
After the Private Cask Programme of the years 2006-2007, which was primarily designed to create urgently needed cash flow for the ongoing operation of the distillery, private individuals were now offered the opportunity to purchase their own Kilchoman cask for the first time again in the anniversary year.
Two further auctions with five casks each followed at the end of September/beginning of October and in December 2020.
25 June 2020: Online Blind Tasting with Anthony Wills
Kilchoman had come up with something special for the online tasting on 25 June 2020: a blind tasting with Anthony Wills. Four different Kilchoman whiskies were available for tasting and had to be guessed by Anthony and the participating whisky fans at home. The “Mystery Packs” could be purchased online in advance.
In the very entertaining blind tasting, Anthony Wills proved to be an expert of his whiskies, he basically recognised all of them correctly, only in the case of the last one he guessed the right cask, but he did not recognise that it was a 100% Islay, 3.5 out of 4 points as he put it himself.
The individual whiskies turned out to be:
- Dram No. 1 – Sanaig (Dark Batch)
- Dram No. 2 – Vintage 2010
- Dram No. 3 – 100% Islay Bourbon Single Cask 425/2013
- Dram No. 4 – 100% Islay PX Matured Single Cask 319/2015
9 July 2020: First Whisky & Food Pairing Live Tasting. With James & Peter Wills
After the very entertaining Blind Tasting on 25 June, the first in a series of Whisky & Food Pairing Live Tastings followed on 9 July. The concept of the series was to taste the four Kilchoman Core Range whiskies “Machir Bay”, “Sanaig”, “Loch Gorm” and “100% Islay” in flavourful interplay with various Scottish food specialities. The first tasting was of various venison specialities, a venison salami and 3 varieties of venison chorizo sausages (venison, venison & pork and chilli & venison).
The Tasting Packs (this time again with a Kilchoman whisky glass) could be purchased as always via the Kilchoman homepage (£16.66 + VAT and shipping).
The venison specialities were from Great Glen Charcuterie and could also be ordered there online with a 10% discount for Kilchoman fans.
Three more Whisky & Food Pairing Live Tastings took place until the end of 2020.
6 August 2020: 2nd Whisky & Food Pairing Live Tasting. With James & Peter Wills
After the game specialities of the 1st Whisky & Food Pairing on 9 July, the 2nd Whisky & Food Pairing Live Tasting, which took place on 6 August, was to taste the four Kilchoman Core Range whiskies “Machir Bay”, “Sanaig”, “Loch Gorm” and “100 % Islay” in flavourful interplay with fish, specifically halibut fillets.
The fish came from “Gigha Halibut”, a company based on Islay’s neighbouring island. “Gigha Halibut” smokes the halibut fillets using oak chips obtained from used Kilchoman whisky casks. This gives the fish a special peat smoke flavour.
The Tasting Packs (including a Kilchoman whisky glass) could be purchased as always via the Kilchoman homepage (£16.66 + VAT and shipping). The fish fillets could also be ordered online from “Gigha Halibut” with a 10% discount for Kilchoman fans.
27 August 2020: Spirit Run Tasting. With Anthony Wills & Robin Bignal
At the Online Tasting on 27 August, Kilchoman friends were offered something very special: a Spirit Run Tasting. Distillery Founder Anthony Wills and Production Manager Robin Bignal gave an insight into the inner workings of the still house, explained on the basis of different samples collected during the second distillation the different flavours and aromas that are present as the spirit run changes and develops over time, from 5 minutes to 90 minutes. Known as the ‘heart of the run’, many have never tasted the huge difference in character between the start and end of the hearts.
A unique opportunity for whisky fans to experience the development of the aromas during the distillation process.
The Tasting Packs, which as always could be purchased on the Kilchoman homepage, contained the following samples:
- 5 min – 74% abv
- 25 min – 72% abv
- 45 min – 69% abv
- 90 min – 65,5% abv
16 September 2020: 100% Islay 10th Edition released
From 16 September, the 10th edition of the 100% Islay range was available from the distillery’s online shop for £71.94, and a week later from whisky retailers worldwide.
The 10th edition is a vatting of 39 ex-bourbon barrels and two oloroso sherry butts that matured for over 9 years in Kilchoman warehouses. This is whisky distilled from Optic and Publican barley malts harvested at Rockside Farm in 2007, 2009 and 2010. As usual with the 100% Islay range, the alcohol content is 50.0% abv. The production run is 12,400 bottles.
For the 2nd time in the history of the 100% Islay series, the 2020 edition is not a pure bourbon cask maturation, but sherry casks were also used as in 2018. In contrast to the sherry content of around 40% of the 2018 edition, which famously caused some controversy among Kilchoman fans, this time the proportion is a good 10%. This is certainly not by chance the sherry cask share, which Anthony Wills had already described several times in the past as ideal for Kilchoman whiskies.
“The Optic and Publican varieties used for the 10th Edition, paired with a light peat smoking, long fermentation and high spirit cut creates a bright, floral nose of citrus sweetness that gives way to prunes, cinnamon and cooked apples & pears on the palate. The finish brings waves of mildly spiced peat smoke, lasting sweetness and rich sherry notes” Anthony Wills, Kilchoman Founder & MD
17 September 2020: 3rd Whisky & Food Pairing Live Tasting. With George & Peter Wills
After the venison specialities and halibut fillets of the 1st and 2nd Whisky & Food Pairings, the 3rd Whisky & Food Pairing on 17 September tasted the four Kilchoman Core Range whiskies “Machir Bay”, “Sanaig”, “Loch Gorm” and “100 % Islay” in combination with different types of cheese.
The cheese came from “Isle of Mull Cheese”, a family business on Islay’s neighbouring island. “Isle of Mull Cheese” uses unpasteurised milk from cows that feed only on grass and grain from the Tobermory distillery on the island of Mull for their speciality cheeses.
The tasting packs (including a Kilchoman whisky glass) could be purchased as always via the Kilchoman homepage (£16.66 + VAT and shipping). The various cheeses could also be ordered online from “Isle of Mull Cheese” with a 10% discount for Kilchoman fans.
24 September – 1 October 2020: 2nd batch of Kilchoman Cask Auction
As reported above, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Kilchoman distillery in 2020, a total of 15 casks of Kilchoman New Make were auctioned in three rounds. After the first auction round with five casks in May/June 2020, interested parties could bid on the next five casks from 24 September to 1 October. The second round of auctions was again met with great interest, which was on the one hand due to the interesting selection of casks, but on the other hand certainly also due to the fact that this time it was all 100% Islay distillate.
The following highest bids were achieved:
- Bourbon Barrel (1st Fill): £13.677
- Oloroso Sherry Hogshead (1st Fill): £11.508
- Pedro Ximénez Hogshead (2nd Fill): £11.800
- Ruby Port Octave Cask (1st Fill): £8.500
- Calvados Hogshead (2nd Fill): £12.011
14 October 2020: Kilchoman Fino Sherry Matured Release
As the fourth and last Limited Edition of the year 2020, a Fino Sherry Matured Release was released on 14 October in the distillery’s online shop and shortly afterwards at retailers worldwide.
After the Port, Madeira, Sauternes, Red Wine and STR Cask editions of the last few years, this was the first time that Kilchoman presented a Fino Sherry full maturation, until then there had only been a Fino Sherry finish once as a special edition for Fèis Ìle 2014.
The bottling is a vatting of twelve Fino Sherry Butts filled in 2014 and 2016 (eleven first-filled and one refill butt) from the Bodega Miguel Martin, from which Kilchoman also obtains all its Oloroso Sherry casks.
Compared to Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez, Fino is a drier and more salty type of sherry. According to the distillery, the casks give the Kilchoman whisky additional notes of fresh green apples, which combines wonderfully with the typical Kilchoman tones of cooked yellow fruits, citrus and maritime peat smoke.
The alcohol content of the bottling is 46.0 %, the edition size 10,500 bottles.
October 2020: Machir Bay Limited Cask Strength Festive Edition released
On the occasion of Kilchoman tasting tours in Europe, Asia and the USA, the distillery had already released exclusive Machir Bay bottlings at cask strength several times in the past. These bottlings enjoy great popularity among Kilchoman fans, as they show the Kilchoman Standard Release from an even more fruity side.
For the festive season 2020/2021, Kilchoman released a Machir Bay at cask strength (58.6%) for the first time as a limited release available worldwide, allowing a wider circle of whisky fans to try an undiluted Machir Bay.
18 November 2020: Kilchoman Club Edition released
The 9th edition of the annual bottling for Kilchoman Club members could be purchased, limited to one bottle per person, on 18 November 2020 on the Kilchoman homepage.
Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills opted this time for a small batch of four Oloroso Sherry Hogsheads with “unpeated” Kilchoman whisky.
Bottlings with “unpeated” Kilchoman whisky are still very rare, after the first two single cask releases from sherry hogsheads at the beginning of 2020 (see above), a few more appeared from bourbon barrels.
With this year’s Club Release, Kilchoman now enables a somewhat larger circle of interested parties to taste “unpeated” Kilchoman whisky. Distilled in August 2012 from the farm’s own barley (100% Islay) of the Publican variety, the whisky was aged for 8 years in four fresh Oloroso hogsheads and bottled in November 2020. The yield was 1,311 bottles with an alcohol content of 56.2%. The bottles cost £99.60 + shipping.
As explained several times, Kilchoman usually writes “unpeated” in inverted commas or uses the term “slightly peated” because despite the use of unpeated malt, the whisky still has very slight peat smoke notes. This is due to the fact that the “low wines and feints receiver” was not elaborately emptied and the pipes were not rinsed each time after the alternate distilling cycles with peated malt.
“We only filled a handful of casks with unpeated 100% Islay spirit over the past 15 years and it was always going to be fascinating how they developed differently from the usually peated malt. Although faint notes of peated spirit from the previous sprit runs can be found in the whisky, it is overridden on the palate with strong spice, bold fruits and coastal flavours” Anthony Wills, Kilchoman Founder and Master Distiller.
26 November 2020: 4th Whisky & Food Pairing Live Tasting. With George & Peter Wills
Kilchoman began a series of whisky & food pairings in the summer of 2020 as part of its regular online live tastings. The four Kilchoman Core Range whiskies “Machir Bay”, “Sanaig”, “Loch Gorm” and “100 % Islay” were tasted in combination with various Scottish food specialities, all of which are produced by small family businesses.
On 26 November 2020, the fourth (and to date last) Whisky & Food Pairing Online Tasting took place. After highland venison specialities, halibut fillets and cheese, this time the focus was on different types of chocolate.
The chocolates came from Edinburgh-based chocolatier COCO, which sources its goods directly from cocoa farmers in Colombia. Four different COCO varieties were chosen for the whisky & food pairing:
- Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate
- Colombian Dark 61%
- Isle of Skye Sea Salt & Lime Milk Chocolate
- Haggis Spice Dark Chocolate
The Tasting Packs (including a Kilchoman whisky glass) could be purchased as always via the Kilchoman homepage (£16.66 + VAT and shipping). The different types of chocolate could also be ordered online at “COCO” with a 10% discount for Kilchoman fans.
3 – 14 December 2020: 3rd Kilchoman Cask Auction
The 3rd and final round of the auction of 15 casks of Kilchoman New Make, launched to mark the 15th anniversary of the Kilchoman distillery, ran from 3 – 14 December 2020. Once again, five casks were up for grabs, including for the first time a Tequila cask and a Sauternes cask.
The following highest bids were achieved:
- Bourbon Barrel: £13.700
- Oloroso Sherry Hogshead: £11.500
- Ruby Port Hogshead: £10.600
- Tequila Cask: £7.600
- Sauternes Hogshead: £10.100
28 December 2020: »Christmas Live Tasting«
As the last Kilchoman online tasting of the year, a “Christmas Live Tasting” took place on 28 December 2020. The tasting pack this time included two Core Range whiskies, the 2020 Club Release and a Single Cask bottling:
- Machir Bay – 46%
- Sanaig – 46%
- Club Release 9th Edition– 56,2%, Vatting of 4 fresh Oloroso Sherry Hogsheads with “unpeated” Kilchoman
- PX Finish Single Cask – 55,4%, matured in a fresh bourbon barrel for 7 years, PX Hogshead Finish for 4 month
The Tasting Packs could be purchased for £16.66 + shipping on the Kilchoman homepage. To celebrate Christmas, Kilchoman included vouchers with some of the Tasting Packs for small gifts ranging from T-shirts to a bottle of Kilchoman 11 yo Sherry Cask.