The Kilchoman Team
The traditional and handcrafted methods we employ at Kilchoman doesn’t just make for an award winning whisky, but also a large and diverse team. From managing the farm and harvesting the barley through to distillation and cask management, there are over 30 full-time staff all equally dedicated to their specific craft.
ANTHONY WILLSFounder and Managing Director
Anthony and his wife Kathy created Kilchoman from a collection of derelict farm buildings in 2005, in doing so they established the first new distillery to be built on Islay in over 124 years. Their passion for whisky and ambition to revive the lost traditions of farm distilling has transformed Kilchoman from a fanciful dream into a celebrated reality.
ROBIN BIGNALProduction Manager
Robin manages the key whisky-making processes at the heart of the distillery. From the malting and distilling to maturation and cask selection, Robin’s enthusiasm, knowledge and understanding of our unique hand-crafted practices guarantees the quality and consistency of each bottle of Kilchoman.
The team in the stillhouse, led by Robin Bignal, is responsible for the heart of the whisky-making process, taking the malted barley through the mill and then on to mashing, fermentation, distilling and finally filling into casks. Once again, with little automation at Kilchoman, the skill and experience of the individual becomes vital to the final spirit being made.
After growing and harvesting, one of the early stages in production is the malting. The traditional floor maltings at Kilchoman is all about hard work, raking and turning 4 tons of malt by hand for 50 weeks of the year (soon to be 6 tons!). Rakes and shovels are their equipment of choice and their knowledge of the precise moment the malting process is complete is vital. It is then time to get the hand cut Islay peat on the kiln fire and peat the malted barley.
General Manager, Islay Heads, and the team in the office make sure everything is running smoothly behind the scenes at Kilchoman. From sending out orders around the world to keeping you all up to date on social media with the latest goings on at the distillery, they’re the glue that holds Kilchoman together.
ISLAY HEADSGeneral Manager
A true lleach, Islay’s affection for the island, its’ people and produce is reflected in his passion for our 100% Islay philosophy. As General Manager Islay oversees every part of our unique barley to bottle whisky-making process. From planting the barley to bottling the whisky, Islay ensures no corners are cut in our pursuit of crafting the finest single malt possible.
WILLS FAMILYSales and Marketing Managers
James, Peter, Kathy, Anthony and George (left to right) have all been a part of Kilchoman since work began on turning a farm into a distillery back in the early 2000’s. Everything from baking cakes and taking tours to malting and distilling, the family have covered almost every job available over the years. These days you will find Kathy in the accounts department, the boys managing sales and marketing in all corners of the world and Anthony blending the next Kilchoman release.
Carol-Ann (far left) and her team will be waiting to greet you at the distillery. With thousands of visitors coming through the doors at Kilchoman every year, the visitor centre team are here to keep you entertained with tours and tastings throughout the year. Once you’ve finished sampling through our range of whiskies then feel free to browse the shop for a gift to take home or wander through to the café for lunch and a freshly made cake and coffee.
Some would argue the most important part of the whisky-making process, getting the matured whisky in a bottle and out for you all to enjoy! The bottling team, led by Michal Besser (far right), fill every bottle of single cask, small batch, limited release and core range whisky produced at Kilchoman. With some bottlings still labelled by hand, the team is under pressure to make sure shops and bars are kept stocked up all year round.