In a land of big daddies, Kilchoman is a baby — a single malt distillery that is just seven years old. Try their young Machir Bay or the more mature 100 Islay, and you will be bowled over with the fresh, fruity tones and the smooth finish
Consider this. Out of the eight single malt distilleries in the Islay region of Scotland, seven are at least 150 years old. The ninth, however, is just over seven years old. A seven-year-old single malt? Is a single malt whisky that is less than 10Yo even considered drinkable?
Kilchoman (pronounced kil-ho-man) would beg to differ. And having tried their potent, smooth and fruity 3Yo one night last week, we can safely say that this is one Scottish baby we are happy to bring home.
When Keshav Prakash, the smiling and amiable founder of The Vault — the exclusive portal for some of the world’s best boutique and handcrafted fine spirits, called us over to sample the single malt, the latest addition to his vault, we squeezed in some time after a tough day at work. It was a smart move in hindsight, since we fell in love almost instantly.
The Kilchoman Machir Bay is a powerful (50 per cent alcohol), single malt created entirely with homegrown barley. It is fruity and light and best had with a dash of water. The water allows it to breathe sufficiently for the fruity flavours to blossom. It went delightfully well with the cold cuts and cheese, just as the ‘peatier’ and more mature Kilchoman 100 Islay blended perfectly with the grilled fish and leg of lamb that we had for dinner. Personally, we loved the Machir Bay more — a great way to start an evening.
But if it’s a drink that you are offering with dinner, the peatier cousin would be a better bet. Without comparing it to the Islay big daddies Ardberg, Lagavulin or Laphroaig, this is a single malt that will win you over with its smooth simplicity. A charmer if there was one.
The story of Kilchoman incidentally makes for good reading too. In 2005, Anthony Wills, a life-long Londoner, gave up his steady corporate job and moved to the remote Rockside Farm in the Scottish Islay region with his family, stunning his friends by saying he now wanted to make single malts.
Today, Kilchoman grows a portion of its own malting barley on the farm and every single step of whisky production from traditional floor maltings to ageing is done on site. That Wills won the ‘Master Distiller of the Year 2013’ at the International Whisky Competition is a good indication of just how much buzz this new Scottish babe is creating. Bring it home!