First up a little background for those of you who are unaware. Kilkerran is produced in Campbeltown, at the new Glengyle distillery. The original distillery produced whisky from 1872 to 1925, at which point it was mothballed. In 2004 it was reopened by J&A Mitchell. If you recognise the name J&A Mitchell, this is most likely due to the fact they own the “little known” distillery Springbank.
We call it the “new” Glengyle distillery, because all that was left when the site was bought in 2000 was the buildings. The distillery was rebuilt by J&A Mitchell’s former production director Frank McHardy. So why you might ask is the spirit called kilkerran? Well that’s because the Glengyle trademark had passed to Bloch Bros. The new owners, while deciding a name, opted for Kilkerran – Cille Chiarain in Gaelic. Which is the original name of Campbeltown.
Anyway we digress, onto the all important whisky review:
Kilkerran 12 year old
This is Kilkerran’s entry level offering. This is lightly peated and matured in a mixture of 70% bourbon and 30% sherry casks. It has been bottled at 46% ABV, without chill filtration or colouring. This would fit quite nicely in our cheap sips feature for anyone looking for a bottle on a budget.
On the nose we’re getting Light peat smoke, apple, cinnamon, caramel, marshmallows and brown sugar.
The sherry influence is not particularly obvious on the palate. This opens with apple, melon, and vanilla. Stick with it and you’ll get white pepper, and Mcvities digestive biscuits. This has a nice creamy mouth feel which surprises given the light appearance of the spirit. Nice long peppery finish.
Nose (with water)
Water brings the smoke to the forefront, but it doesn’t come alone it also brings with it nail polish remover, caramel and a hint of sherry.
Palate (with water)
This is definitely more woody now, with some lemon, and brown sugar. There’s a lot more salt on the finish now. We’d suggest you skip water in this one.
You really can’t go wrong with an official bottling from Glenglye. The real questions are where does this sit compared to the distilleries other offerings, and how does it compare to other distilleries releases?
Well to be honest, it comes up a touch short compared to other Glenglye offerings. it’s not bad by any means, but we’d opt for a different release from the distillery first (such as the 8 year old cask strength). Comparing it to other distilleries it’s well above average, and great value for what you get.
Kilkerran Online Tasting Week 2021 5 year old
As a comparison, we've decided to include a review of the 5 year old Kilkerran bottled in March 2021 for Springbank’s tasting week. This release was matured in fresh oloroso sherry casks. Interesting they called it a tasting week because that’s roughly how long you needed to spend trying to buy a bottle of this online.
We’re instantly hit with the smell of BBQ meats, followed by a touch of sulphur. There’s something here that’s reminds us of a cowshed. Sticking with it we’re also getting a hint of citrus, some light fudge, a chalky mineral note and some beef jerky.
Nice start with some spicy beef stir fry, red velvet cake, sweet chilli flavoured sensation crisps, and bacon frazzles. the finish is medium length with the sherry notes lingering on the palate.
Nose (with water)
We’re now getting a sweet bbq pulled pork note, a little star anise, clove spice, and brown sugar. Alcohol has also become more noticeable.
Palate (with water)
On the palate there’s sour cherry sweets, Char Sui pork, some smoked watermelon. This is very meaty. Very rich finish with some syrupy red fruits lingering on the palate.
This is good, but it doesn’t really stand up to the cask strength 8 year olds that the distillery has released over the past few years. Saying this, it is a lot more complex and interesting than most other sherry heavy bottles around £50 so a great pickup if you can get it for RRP.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
Have you tried the Kilkerran 5 Tasting Week release or Kilkerran 12? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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