Islay Heads, Kilchoman Distillery

Islay Heads, Kilchoman Distillery

When did your farm diversify into tourism and in what way?

The distillery at Rockside Farm has allowed us to grow and provide our own barley, taking us back to its traditional farm roots. The visitor centre was an integral part of this and allowed us to share our story and to grow the brand.

How has this benefited the farm as a business overall?

The distillery business and the farm business are separate but there is no doubt that the
farm benefits from the visitors and we are constantly looking to make improvements to the infrastructure and the soils to ensure that we leave the farm in better condition for the
next generation.

What part of tourism do you love the most?

We are very lucky and estimate that we have around 25,000 visitors to the distillery every year. They travel from all around the world to visit Islay and Kilchoman and it’s great to see so many people that are enthusiastic about what we do on the farm and the distillery. They appreciate seeing the whole process on site from growing the barley to filling the bottles.

How did lockdown impact on the tourism aspect of your business?

It had a major impact on our business as we closed the visitor centre. We have recently reopened and are delighted to be welcoming visitors back - although the numbers are reduced we see that these are building.

Tell me about the GoRural live farm visit?

We did a video presentation for GoRural, which was a lot of fun to do. We got to highlight the farm and give viewers a virtual tour round the distillery. We were able to share our vision for the future at Kilchoman Distillery.

Have you changed anything as a result of lockdown which you’ll continue with?

We have made a lot more use of technology for meetings and we’ll probably continue with this in the future.

What impact does your business have in the community?

We employ, locally, around 28 people and use local contractors both at the distillery and on the farm where we possibly can. The visitors that come also provide valuable income to the local hotels, guest houses and shops.