Visit Machir Bay, after which one of Kilchoman’s malts is named, then walk out to Saligo and discover two more white-sand beaches tucked behind the dunes and machir.
Kilchoman is Islay’s only farm distillery growing all of its barley, malting, and distilling it onsight. The uniqueness of Kilchoman is only enhanced by its remoteness on the west coast of Islay – we recommend a morning tour before the walk! Leave the distillery and head north towards the white-sand beaches of Saligo hidden behind the sprawling machir where the Saligo and Smaull farms operate before returning and taking a detour to Machir Bay after which one of Kilchoman’s key malts gets its name.
The second and largest of the Saligo beaches is certainly a place to linger on a good summer’s day. Take a picnic and a blanket if you can to lay down on the sand to enjoy the rhythmic sound of the ocean.
Some sections of today’s walk are on quiet single-track roads so please take care of traffic and set aside to let vehicles pass. Please heed livestock on the farms at Saligo and any notices about lambing season. Watch out while walking next to the coast and don’t go too close to the edge except on paths – dune landscapes are fragile.
Please follow the advice of the notices at Machir Bay and Saligo Bay and don't swim in the sea due to the strong undercurrents.
A small rucksack with waterproofs and spare warm layers is essential – the walking is beautiful on a good day but the landscape is very exposed to the elements if the weather turns. Make sure to bring plenty of water and food for the day.
Points of Interest
Kilchoman is Islay’s only farm distillery producing all of it’s own barley on the island. A small operation compared to some of the larger distilleries a premium tour here is a special experience – many of the processes are still carried out by hand which is a contract to some of the older, larger distilleries who cannot function like this any longer. If you wish to book a tour you can choose from their basic and premium tours (details, opening times, and days can be found on the below link, or you can call them on +44 (0)1496 850 011).
Visitor Centre and café opening hours may vary but are listed as 9.45am - 5pm (Monday to Friday - November 2017 - 23rd March 2018 and everyday - 26th March - 2nd November 2018)
Nearly 2 km in length the sandy expanse of Machir Bay is a wonderful spot for taking in the power of the Atlantic Ocean. The beach is the namesake for Kilchoman’s flagship single malt. The distillery manager, John MacLellan, describes the malt here: “Machir Bay has a beautiful balance of vanilla, smokey butterscotch and rich fruitiness each contributing in complexity and combining to create a truly unique Islay dram”.
The beach at Saligo is said to be Islay’s most beautiful, but when you visit you can see and decide for yourself! The beach is west of the quiet shores of Loch Gorm and north of Kilchoman distillery. Visible from the dunes above the bay is an unusual rock formation further up the coast, the locals call it the “sleeping Giant” because of it’s peculiar shape.
Food & Drink
The distillery is situated in remote country on the west coast of Islay so thankfully it has a good café serving coffee, cakes, and sandwiches etc along with a gift shop and visitor centre. There is nowhere else to get refreshments on this route, but you can stock up on snacks or a picnic lunch if you don’t wish to use the café in Port Charlotte before your morning taxi transfer.