2016’s big event is here as Kilkerran releases its first 12 year old whisky. For the past few years we’ve been treated to what they’ve dubbed is a work-in-progress. Annual releases in various forms showcasing the development of the spirit from a very youthful whisky right through till the WIP7.
My whisky of 2015 was the Kilkerran Bourbon Wood Work in Progress 7. A cask strength full salvo that destroyed everything else out there. Oh, and the added bonus was that it sold for around £58. Last year did see another bottling in the form of the Kilkerran Sherry Wood Work in progress 7, another very good whisky but lacking the devastation of the cask strength bourbon version.
You see Kilkerran has a depth of flavours and offers a real whisky experience that we sadly see nowadays. This week I’m reminded of Arran and their 21st anniversary; a whisky that has yet to win me over despite many attempts. It has a loyal following who unfortunately seem to have built up expectations that the whisky fails to satisfy. There is no comparison as Kilkerran is a proper whisky; seek it out for the experience. I’ve lost count now how many bottles of the bourbon wood I’ve stockpiled or those I have managed to turn onto Kilkerran and perhaps if they ask nicely; source a bottle. It’s all in the taste and only then do you appreciate why many of our modern day new distilleries are inferior.
Of course Glengyle distillery is a revived Campbeltown relic in the form of Kilkerran. It’s a completely new operation internally set within the existing buildings of a distillery that lay dormant for 75 years. As it is associated with Springbank distillery, a wealth of experience and in particular Campbeltown whisky experience was available from inception. Their efforts are now being appreciated as the anticipation of Kilkerran grows and the confidence of those involved is obvious. Kilkerran doesn’t require fancy packaging, boastful claims or silly marketing; its all in the bottle and that is what will win you over.
This bottling comes from their 2016 Open Day and was a sample I purchased from Moixe’s Festival tasting event, as I was unfortunately unable to attend that evening. The question is whether an 8 year old is worth the long drive to Campbeltown?
Kilkerran 8 year old Open Day 2016 – review
Colour: a light brown sugar
Nose: a smack across the face sends you scuttling back to gasp breath. The suggestion is a sherry monster. The shock dwindles. Treacle and dark chocolate take over. Straight out the oven gingerbread loaf then the richness of beeswax and oddly Ovaltine. Raisins and there’s what I thought was peat as seasoning but its a smoky element that transports you back to the glory years of Scottish distilling. Clue that isn’t today’s era. Smokey bacon marmalade? I suppose that’s possible with a little tenacity which seems to sum up Kilkerran.
Taste: now this is a surprise as its more restrained and dignified than the aromas hinted at. A lovely balance of brown sugar, ginger and treacle unfolds. The texture is very agreeable and those raisins return with chocolate truffles. A touch of rubber (which I do enjoy) on the finish and a drying quality.
The nose is superb almost a meal in itself with complexity and weight. The taste itself cannot match this but still its an enjoyable ride and one best without water. A fine Kilkerran celebration and worth the drive to Campbeltown.
These photographs were taken at Brora distillery and its warehouse