2 March 2022: Worldwide launch of the Madeira Cask Matured Edition
As we already reported in 2021, the worldwide launch of the Madeira Cask Matured 2021 Edition, originally planned for autumn 2021, had to be postponed to early 2022 due to a shortage of empty Kilchoman bottles.
For the bottling, which has been available in all Kilchoman markets since March 2022, 46 fresh Madeira hogsheads were selected in which the whisky distilled in May 2016 was matured for 5 years and 3 months. The edition amounts to 17,000 bottles with an alcohol strength of 50%.
Because of the shipping restrictions to some countries and regions, which are still in place due to the Brexit, Kilchoman decided this time not to offer the bottling in the distillery’s online shop first, as is usually the case, but to market it exclusively via the worldwide importers.
April 2022: First Kilchoman Marsala Cask Finish
Besides whiskies matured in bourbon or sherry casks, Kilchoman released a variety of whiskies from what Anthony Wills calls “experimental cask types” in recent years. After Calvados, Tequila and Mezcal casks dominated the discussions of Kilchoman fans lately, Kilchoman came up with another novelty in April 2022: the world’s first Kilchoman Marsala cask finish. The bottling appeared as a Distillery Shop Exclusive Release for £102 in the distillery’s visitor centre.
The whisky was initially matured for 8 years in an ex-bourbon barrel (No. 587/2012) and was then finished for 7 months in a Marsala Hogshead.
28 April 2022: First Single Cask Release for the Kilchoman Appreciation Society
The Kilchoman Appreciation Society is the largest Facebook group of Kilchoman lovers worldwide. For their first own single cask bottling, 50 of their members chose Sauternes Cask No. 903/2015 from 4 different cask samples in an online tasting with Anthony Wills on 3 February 2022.
The cask was bottled in mid-April and the bottles could be ordered from 28 April by the 50 members of the selection committee and the 20 most active group members. The sale to the other members, limited to one bottle per person, took place from the beginning of May.
May 2022: Loch Gorm 2022 Edition
Loch Gorm is the annual bottling matured exclusively in sherry casks that has opened the Kilchoman year for many years. Due to the postponement of the Madeira Cask Matured release from autumn 2021 to spring 2022, it was not the first limited Kilchoman bottling in 2002. It was also released a month later than usual due to ongoing problems with the delivery of bottles, labels and cartons. As with the Madeira Cask Matured release, there was no pre-sale via the Kilchoman online shop this time.
The 2022 release is a vatting of 22 Oloroso Sherry Butts, 20 first-filled and two refill casks that were filled between 2007 and 2013, i.e. matured for at least 8 years. The 500 litre sherry butts come, as always with Kilchoman, from the Bodega José y Miguel Martín and were filled with spirit that has a phenolic content of 50 ppm. The vatting of these 22 casks, diluted down to 46%, resulted in a yield of 17,250 bottles.
“Having selected casks that range in age from eight to fourteen years old, this year’s vatting combines both the youngest and oldest casks we’ve selected for recent editions of Loch Gorm. The freshness of the eight year old casks combined with the layered complexity of the older casks gives it a fantastic balance of rich, fruity oloroso influence which pairs beautifully with the citrus sweetness and peat smoke of Kilchoman,” Anthony Wills, Kilchoman Founder.
May 2022: First 16 year old Kilchoman Whisky – Single Bourbon Barrel 05/2006 for Kilchomania.com
In May 2022, Kilchomania.com proudly announced the release of the world’s first 16-year-old Kilchoman whisky.
Before the worldwide delivery to pre-orderers in May, it could already be tasted since the end of April in the award-winning whisky bar in the Ballygrant Inn on Islay (among others Scottish Whisky Bar of the Year 2015), for visitors of the Fèis Ìle, there was also the opportunity to compare the bottling with the 2022 Kilchoman Fèis Ìle release – a 16-year-old small batch – from 2 June.
Cask No. 05/2006, a 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel, was the 12th cask Kilchoman has filled in its history, so the bottling gave the rare opportunity to taste one of the oldest and rarest Kilchoman casks.
2 June 2022: Kilchoman Open Day at Fèis Ìle 2022
After the Islay Festival Fèis Ìle could only be held online for two years due to the Corona pandemic, it took place normally with visitors in 2022. Kilchoman Open Day was June 2, 2022, the programme again offered the tried and tested mix of tours, tastings and other events.
Here is an overview:
- 10:30 – Founder’s Cask Tasting with Anthony Wills (Open to Kilchoman Club Members only)
- 12:00 – Barley Varieties Exploration Tasting with Peter Wills & Robin Bignal
- 13:30 – Live Online Tasting with Anthony & James Wills
- 13:30 – Archive Fèis Ìle Releases with Peter Wills & Antea Allegro
- 15:00 – Comraich Tasting with James Wills und Catherine MacMillan
- Be A Bottler – 9:30, 11:00, 12:30, 14:00, 15:30 (includes a personalised bottle of a Distillery Exclusive Single Cask).
- Islay’s Farm Tour – 10:00, 12:30, 15:00 – Islay Heads, General Manager, gave the participants a tour of Rockside Farm and the surrounding area, tasting a few drams of Kilchoman whisky along the way.
- Range Tastings – 11:00. 12:00, 15:00
All the main production areas were open and in operation throughout the day. A good opportunity to see everything in action and talk to the experts working in each area.
EATING, DRINKING, DANCING & SHOPPING
- A large number of limited Kilchoman editions, Comraich batches and cask samples were served in the whisky bar.
- Cocktail-Bar – Bartenders from The Malt Room Bar in Inverness created a special range of mixed drinks that were available at the bar throughout the day.
- In addition, two bands played in the Music Marquee throughout the day, there was local meats served from the BBQ, light snacks from the Salad Bar, cakes and coffee from the Café and all the branded gear you could ever want from the Gift Shop.
The 2022 Fèis Ìle special bottling was a very special rarity: the first 16-year-old small batch bottling of the distillery. For this, 5 bourbon barrels from the early days of the distillery were married together. The yield was 865 bottles, limited to one bottle per person, which were be sold to visitors for £150 on Kilchoman Open Day.
Anthony Wills wrote: “I always try and find something special for the Fèis Ìle releases and with the return of people to Fèis on Islay rather than exclusively online I thought the time was right to bottle some of our oldest casks. I´d love to keep these casks in the warehouse for my own personal consumption, but they are too good not to share”.
For the Kilchoman fans who could not attend the festival on site, the distillery again held an online tasting with Anthony and James Wills. Four different Kilchoman bottlings of the year 2022 were tasted: Madeira Cask Matured 2021 Edition, Loch Gorm 2022 Edition, Casado 2022 Limited Edition and the Fèis Ìle 2022 Edition.
July 2022: Glenalmond College 175th Anniversary Blended Malt
To celebrate the 175th anniversary of the famous Glenalmond College, a special whisky was released in July 2022: a blended malt composed of a peated cask of Kilchoman from 2014 and an unpeated cask of Ardnamurchan from 2015. After the KilchArd, this was already the second collaboration of the two friendly distilleries.
George, James and Peter Wills of Kilchoman and Alex Bruce of Adelphi (the parent company of Ardnamurchan) are all former Glenalmond students and were delighted to be asked to create this limited edition blended malt Scotch whisky.
553 bottles of the Glenalmond 175 Blended Malt Scotch Whisky were bottled at 52.0% vol. The proceeds from the sale of each bottle were donated to Glenalmond to fund scholarships.
September 2022: Release of the 100% Islay 12th Edition
The 12th edition of the 100% Islay Edition is a vatting of 29 ex-bourbon barrels and 6 oloroso sherry butts that matured for over 8 years in Kilchoman warehouses. The barley used was of the Publican variety, harvested at Rockside Farm in 2011, 2012 and 2013. As usual with the 100% Islay range, the whisky was bottled with an alcohol content of 50.0%. The edition size was 12,500 bottles.
The 12th edition is the first 100% Islay limited release to contain only whisky distilled from Publican barley. Thus, the transition from the barley variety Optic, which was cultivated in the early Kilchoman years, becomes tasteful for the Kilchoman friend here as well. As one could already tell from some 100% Islay single cask bottlings, there are quite clear differences in taste between the two barley varieties used. While the earlier 100% Islay releases had a very special fruitiness reminiscent of strawberries, the newer bottlings tend more towards tropical fruits (“pineapple note”).
Anthony Wills wrote: “It’s a lovely 100% Islay, rich and fruity on the nose then lots of citrus sweetness and tropical fruit on the palate with waves of peat smoke coming through on the finish.”
17 October 2022: Casado Limited Release
In October 2022, Kilchoman released a rather unusual release that illustrated Anthony Wills’ unabated desire to experiment. As we reported earlier, in August 2020 Kilchoman installed two new vatting tanks (containers for marrying larger whisky releases) for maturation experiments, which are not made of stainless steel like the standard ones, but of wood of former Portuguese red wine casks.
The vatting tanks were made according to Kilchoman’s specifications by the Dias cooperage from Portugal, which has been supplying Kilchoman with casks for several years (including making the STR casks for Kilchoman). The inner surface was shaved, toasted and re-charred, practically two huge STR casks were produced here. The two vats were charred to different degrees (char level 2 and 3), which should have a slightly different impact on the whisky stored in them.
After instillation the vats, each holding 6,000 litres, were filled with the contents of 19 fresh ex-bourbon barrels each from 2014. After two years of marriage, the contents of both tanks were then bottled in October 2022 under the name Casado (Portuguese for marriage). The edition is 12,900 bottles with an alcohol content of 46.0%.
Anthony Wills wrote: “The red wine marriage gives the whisky layers of red fruit and spices which complement the vanilla and butterscotch influence of the bourbon barrels beautifully”.
November 2022: 2nd Machir Bay Cask Strength Limited Edition
After a series of smaller Machir Bay Cask Strength releases on the occasion of the previously so popular Kilchoman Tasting Tours in Europe, Asia and the USA, Kilchoman had already released a Machir Bay Cask Strength Limited Edition at Christmas 2020 in response to many customer requests, thus making it possible for a wider circle of whisky fans to try an undiluted Machir Bay.
This bottling resulted in an overwhelmingly positive echo among whisky fans, as it showed the Kilchoman Standard Release from an even more fruity side in terms of taste, and so Kilchoman planned to release the second Machir Bay Cask Strength Limited Edition for the end of 2021. At that time, however, a problem with the delivery of empty bottles, which has already been mentioned here several times, occurred, which led to the postponement of several bottlings. And so the Cask Strength Release had to be postponed as well.
In November 2022, Kilchoman friends worldwide could finally taste it. By the way, the again very attractively designed boxes were not newly made for cost and environmental reasons and so a 2021 Limited Edition imprint adorns the packaging.
14 December 2022: 11th Kilchoman Club Release
Since 2012, Kilchoman has released an exclusive bottling at the end of the year for the members of the Kilchoman Club, in which every Kilchoman friend can register online. Anthony Wills always tried to select very special casks for these bottlings and so the club releases became highlights of the respective year for many Kilchoman fans.
While many of the previous Club Releases celebrated the classic Kilchoman character resulting from both bourbon and oloroso sherry cask influence, Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills and production director Robin Bignal once again chose one of the so-called “experimental cask types” in 2022.
The eleventh edition of the Club Release consists of three ex-bourbon barrels that were finished in fresh Sicilian Marsala casks for fifteen months before being bottled at cask strength. The yield was 777 bottles with an alcohol content of 53.0 %. Limited to one bottle per person, the bottling could be purchased for £74.95 + tax and shipping on the Kilchoman homepage.
“Both sweet wines, like sauternes and fortified wines like sherry, port or marsala, work really well with the peat smoke and citrus character of Kilchoman. The fifteen months finishing in marsala casks has given the whisky notes of golden raisins, toasted almonds and dates, as well as amplifying the vanilla influence coming from the bourbon barrel maturation. On the palate there are waves of juicy fruits with the typical Kilchoman freshness and citrus sweetness.” Anthony Wills, Kilchoman Founder and Master Distiller.
The release date of the bottling was a very special day for Kilchoman. On 14 December 2005, exactly 17 years earlier, the first cask of Kilchoman whisky was filled. A good occasion to toast the anniversary with a glass of Kilchoman and to review the incredible development of the last 17 years!
28 December 2022: Christmas Online Tasting
As in the past two years, Kilchoman again hosted a “Christmas Tasting” with Anthony and George Wills on 28 December, it seems to become a nice tradition.
Besides the two Core Range Whiskies Machir Bay and Loch Gorm, a Calvados Double Cask Finish release and the Kilchoman Club Release 2022 were tasted.
The Tasting Packs, which also included a Kilchoman Tasting Glass, could be purchased in advance on the Kilchoman homepage, as always. As in the past two years, some randomly selected Tasting Packs were accompanied by small Christmas gifts – from a Kilchoman T-shirt to a bottle of the current Distillery Only Single Cask Release.