The Isle of Islay’s Kilchoman Distillery Partners With Land Rover Classic

The Isle of Islay's Kilchoman Distillery Partners With Land Rover Classic

The Kilchoman Distillery on Scotland’s Isle of Islay, with its unique family connection to the automotive industry, has announced a partnership with Land Rover Classic, and the result is a whisky that will be limited to just six hundred and thirty-nine bottles and a rather special Classic V8 Defender.

Kilchoman, the farm distillery based in Islay in Scotland, are thrilled to launch ‘639’ whisky, which comes at the same time as Land Rover Classic announced a low-volume hand-built classic Land Rover Defender works V8 Islay Edition. It marks the 75th anniversary of Land Rover inspired by the Hebridean island.

Kilchoman Distillery has a very special connection to Land Rover. Kathy Wills’ Grandfather, Spencer Wilks, the distillery’s co-founder, was formerly the Managing Director of The Rover Group.

Kathy and her husband outside the distillery next to the original estate Land Rover and the special edition new version

The original Land Rover came to being on the Wills Laggan estate, where Kathy’s husband often drove a heavily modified Rover prototype. During one encounter, a local Gamekeeper announced, “That must be a Land-Rover, Sir?” Since then, the name has gone down in history as it was given to the first production of the Rover group vehicle.

Land Rover Classic was inspired by the unique automotive connection the Wills family had, the Kilchoman Distillery, and the character of Islay.

A side view of the New Classic Defender WorksV8 Islay Edition

The vehicle’s Heritage Grey paint, contrasting roof and wheels in Limestone are influenced by a Series IIa Land Rover owned by Spencer. It forms part of the Land Rover Classic collection. Hence the Classic Defender Works V* Islay Edition launched on 2nd May 2023.

Kathy Wills, a co-founder of Kilchoman, said, “It has been very special for the teams at Kilchoman and Land Rover Classic to work together on these projects considering our longstanding family connection. It was a great moment when the team at Land Rover Classic brought my grandfather’s Series IIa back to Islay and to the distillery, and I’m delighted to see the design details it has informed on their latest Classic Defender.

The two resulting products of the vehicle and the whisky are similar in that they’re both expertly crafted limited editions that will appeal to connoisseurs, enthusiasts, and collectors alike.”

The new Classic Defender WorksV8 Islay Edition driving on the beach under grey skies

The New Classic Defender WorksV8 Islay Edition – Featuring Kilchoman Casks
The experts at Land Rover Classic have worked closely with Kilchoman to design and produce the Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition. Bespoke interior details for the thirty limited edition vehicles incorporate the oak of the distillery’s whisky casks within the trays of the central stowage space, a stunning tailored point that strengthens the link back to Islay.

The interior of the special edition Land Rover

The trays feature a unique 110mm wooden disc replicating the end of a whisky cask made from a specific piece of wood that displays the authentic stencilled lettering of the distillery.

A closeup of the wood detailing made from historical casks

Kilchoman whisky cask wood is used for the base of each cup holder, adding uniqueness to every vehicle.

Limited Edition Whisky Launch’639′
The number 639 was chosen as it is part of the registration number of the Land Rover Series IIa owned by Spencer Wilks and makes a fitting label for the Islay whisky. Kathy and Anthony Wills personally selected the casks for the 639, a combination of ex-bourbon barrels and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, bottled at their natural cask strength (51.3%).

One of the 639 bottles next to two full drams in front of a roaring fireplace

The result is a whisky with abundant rich flavours and complexity – milk chocolate, fresh fruits, and light maritime peat smoke balanced with added layers of raisins, caramel, and toasted oak.

Bottles will be available (from mid-May 2023), and you can purchase through The Whisky Exchange for £80.00 per bottle.

For further information on the 639 whiskies, please visit, and purchases can be made at

To read more information on the Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition and the full range of cars, services, and experiences offered by Land Rover Classic, visit

Read more news from the spirits industry here.

The special edition Land Rover in the distillery's cellarThe Isle of Islay's Kilchoman Distillery Partners With Land Rover Classic 2

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