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Kilchoman Distillery

Located on Rockside Farm and named after the parish in which it lies, Kilchoman Distillery is Islay's newest and smallest, established in 2005. It overlooks Machrie Bay on the island's west coast, a half-mile (1 km) south southwest of Loch Gorm. A proportion of the barley used at Kilchoman is grown on the neighbouring fields, with the rest coming from elsewhere on Islay. It is one of only a handful of distilleries still practising traditional floor malting - in two-tonne batches - as against the industrialised process favoured by most distilleries - usually taking place off-site. Thus Kilchoman is unusual in having the ability for all parts of the whisky-making process to be carried out on-site, from the growing of barley to hand-bottling of the award-winning spirit.

The mash tun, washbacks and copper stills were specifically designed and built for this distillery. The stills are amongst the smallest in Scotland; the wash-still has a capacity of 3000 litres and the spirit-still holds 1600 litres. The first cask of spirit was laid down on 14th December 2005.

A kiln fire in 2006 was a significant set-back, causing considerable damage, but malting resumed the following year making use of a new oil-fired indirect heating system installed to replace the previous less-efficient direct-fired system. The initial two stainless-steel washbacks were augmented in 2007 by a further two in order to increase capacity from 65,000 litres of alcohol per annum to the present-day levels of around 140,000 litres. 2007 also saw the building of a new warehouse to store the spirit. A bottling room was added in 2011. The initial investment of £1 million had to be extended to £4.5 million by 2008.

By 2013, twenty-two casks of spirit were being filled each week using a combination of old bourbon barrels from Kentucky and sherry casks from Spain, their original contents adding to the unique flavour of the whisky.

The distillery is open for tours and includes a visitor centre incorporating a shop and café.


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