Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 and is the youngest distillery on Islay. That title will soon be lost however; a brand new distillery is being built at the Rockside Farm owned by Mark French. The farm lies by the shore of Machir Bay on the west coast of Islay a few kilometres from Port Charlotte. The partners Anthony Wills and Mark French began construction in 2002. The distillery which they have named Kilchoman will run a traditional production; they will grow their own barley, the peat will be locally obtained and they will have their own malting floor. The by-product from the process will be used for feeding cattle and for fertilisation. The wash still will be heated by an open flame and the spirit still by internal steam coils. Kilchoman argue that the open flame will contribute to a whisky with a natural taste. The wash backs will be made from wood. The water used in the production will be taken from the hills behind Bruichladdich. The water has flowed through earth rich in moss and peat before reaching Kilchoman.
John McDougall is initially involved in the project as a production c consultant. McDougall has worked at 19 distilleries and has 40 years experience from making whisky at for example Laphroaig and Springbank. He is currently working as a lecturer and a consultant and he also sells whisky as an independent bottler. One of the Founders, Anthony Wills, is running another company called the ‘Liquid Gold Enterprises’, specialising in single cask malt bottlings.
Kilchoman have decided on a unique approach and will sell their whisky exclusively as single malt. The annual production capacity will be 180 000 litres and production will initially be set to 90 000 litres. As a comparison the other Islay distilleries on average produce 70 000 litres each week. Kilchoman is planning a visitor centre, a café and a gift shop and will employ eight people including production personnel.
Kilchoman had an open day in May 2004 when 200 people visited the building site during the Islay Whisky Festival. They and other interested customers will have to wait another eight years before they may open a bottle from Islay’s youngest distillery.
Kilchoman Gets Closer
Kilchoman, the Latest Islay distillery, is getting closer to the finishing line. The Spirit Receiver was installed a few days ago. The Receiver holds 600 litres and will hold the spirit until it is pumped over to the bonded warehouse and filled into casks. Read more about the progress here.
Kilchoman Construction on Schedule
Anthony Wills, Managing Director at Kilchoman, says that construction is on schedule and that all equipment will be installed in February 2005. Production will begin in March 2005 after a few weeks of tests and calibration of the equipment.
Kilchoman in financial trouble
The Kilchoman Distillery which will be the first new distillery built on Islay since 1881 was scheduled to start their production during the Islay Whisky Festival 2004 but are in financial trouble. Kilchoman has not qualified for a grant of £150 000 since they have not shown sufficient progress. According to Anthony Wills, who has put the project together, the delay is caused by the fact that other construction sites on Islay are behind schedule, thus detaining Kilchoman’s contracted workers. He believes that Kilchoman will be able to start before the end of 2004.