Easter Break 2019 – Beach and Kilchoman Whiskey

We were all hoping for a lay in this morning but mum was up with Ruby at 0630 and then I was up with DeaconT at 0745 letting mum sleep for longer as she had to get up so early.

Having had a shower, (see my random thoughts on this) we were all packed and ready for a day exploring. Having driven on the Isle of Skye I am used to single track roads but these are even smaller; I love them. Our first destination was to Machir Bay which is a fabulous sandy beach. This is a huge stretch of unspoilt beach, we only saw one other couple, which RubyBloomT also spotted and sprinted after. Given this is on the Atlantic I was surprised at how clean the beach was from litter and tidal debris.

A deserted beach

After all that sprinting the dog had to be tired! A short car trip up from the beach was a cemetery and Kilchoman Church. We were hoping to see some of the old gravestones, one being from the 13th or 14th century, but sadly as the church was in ruins it had been declared an unsafe building and cordoned off.

Kilchoman Church
Kilchoman Cross

Next stop was something I had been looking forward to which was the Whiskey tour at the Kilchoman Distillery . First we all had a bite to eat in the cafe.

As whiskey tours go I was impressed with the honest simplicity of this tour, which is inkeeping with the Islay farm distilling ethics of the company; 100% Islay as their whiskey is called.

The barley is washed and then laid on the floor and turned by hand every 4 hours to enable the malting process. Even during the smoking process it is turned by hand every 4 hours, that is one smoky job.

The malting process

The next stage was mashing where warm water is added to the ground down malt so that the sugars are released. We were given a sample of the mash which was lovely and sweet, but the next container had wort in it, which meant the sugar had been drained off and this was really sour. I wished we had tasted these the other way around!!!

Next came fermentation which is when yeast is added and the magic begins; sugar turns into alcohol. Afterwards we enter the distillation room where the stills help separate the alcohol. The first third is siphoned off as it’s too pure, the last third is also siphoned off for being too weak, but the middle third is the pure gold!!! This feels like it should be part of the Goldilocks and the three bears story. This process is also known as the top and tails.

One of the fermentation stills

The final stage is for the whiskey to put into barrels so that it can mature for however many years the distiller has planned. Unlike other distillers, Kilchoman try to keep to the old ways and ensure the end to end process is all completed on Islay. This is also means that it is bottled here and one of the labels is still put on by hand.

Every bottle of Kilchoman whiskey is bottled and labelled here

After such a great tour I had to purchase my own bottle and as we were on the beach earlier in the day it had to be a bottle of Machir Bay.

Looking forward to this

I think we are planning to travel to the south of the island tomorrow in Part 3.

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