Friday, March 19, 2010
Kilchoman is nearing maturity
Kilchoman opened in 2005 and we are finally starting to see the results of the process with some 2 and 3 year bottlings. The distillery has stated that they would like to have 5, 8, 10, and 12 year bottlings, so we are getting close to having the 5 year bottles start coming out and we can offer a real evaluation of the scotch.
A scotch distillery is almost like an R&D firm where there will be no returns for years, which is very difficult to finance and plan for.
What is interesting to me is how Kilchoman is dealing with the initial very slow time until the scotch is ready to sell in a variety of creative ways. They offer a course where you can over 5 days go through the entire process of making scotch hands on from malting to bottling for 500 pounds. What a great way to make enthusiasts; once they have been so involved in making it they will want to get some. Plus, you get people to help you do the work and they pay you. It is brilliant.
They have also offered selling casks of unfinished scotch which you can buy and age yourself for 995 pounds. As explained in the link this probably is not a great way to make money since there are a lot of expenses associated with bottling and distribution, however it offers a special opportunity to be a part of the process. They are not unique in making this offer, but it is an interesting way to capitalize on an appreciating asset prior to maturity.
They also have a nice online shop and cafe which are becoming rather conventional. This is a small operation with only 8 employees. Initial production will only be set to 90,000 liters, whereas other Islay distilleries may do 70,000 liters a week (see entry at thewiskyguide.com). With home grown barley this is going to be a small boutique distillery.
The initial reviews have been very favorable with a 94 rating by Jim Murray in his 2008 Wisky Bible. I for one will be interested to see how Kilchoman does and eagerly await the results in 2012 when the first 5 year bottling arrives. However, if you are interested in a preview the third bottling will be released in March of 2010.