On Tuesday I reviewed the 2019 release of the Springbank 21. Here now is another recent Campbeltown release: a new NAS heavily peated whisky from Kilkerran. I don’t really pay attention to whisky news anymore and so I had no idea that this had been in the works. Like most optimistic idiots I’d assumed that once Kilkerran aged their stocks up they’d be putting out whiskies with age statements. And given how good the 2016 release of the Kilkerran 12 was I’d assumed they were just continuing on that path. But here’s a heavily peated NAS release. What is the impetus for this? To capture some more of the heavily peated market? Doesn’t the NAS Longrow already aim to do that for the group? I do hope they’re not going to do a Kilchoman-like pivot to a series of NAS malts. They put out an 8 yo at cask strength not too long ago; I’m assuming this one is a year or two younger than that. And that one I thought was rather unremarkable. That doesn’t seem to bode well for this. But the proof will be in the glass. Let’s see.
Kilkerran, Heavily Peated (59.3%; Batch No. 1; from a bottle split)
Nose: Big farmy peat at first with quite a bit of lime; below that is a lot of salt and then some cured meat. The rubber burns off quickly enough and the lime and salt and farmy peat run wild. Sweeter with water (wet stones) and the cured meat expands.
Palate: Comes in sweeter than expected and then all the other stuff from the nose shows up, with the salt again emphasized. Very drinkable at full strength. On the second sip there’s more than a hint of savoury gunpowder/rock salt. With time more youthful notes emerge (mezcal) and there’s some pepper too. Okay, let’s see what water does. It pulls out more of the pepper along with some coal smoke.
Finish: Medium-long. The salt is dominant here too and the pepper shows up too later.
Comments: This is fine if you are looking for a big bruising, young peated whisky. It’s not as rough as the first impressions on the nose indicated it might be, and it improves markedly with water, but there’s really nothing here that recommends it very highly over any number of heavily peated whiskies. And for much the same price (I’d guess) you can get much more complexity (see the Laphroaig 10 CS or even the Port Charlotte 10). The character of the regular Kilkerran is not much in evidence here, which is a pity.
Rating: 83 points. (Pulled up by water.)
I believe the idea is to do a series of annual batches until it gets to the right age, like the Work in Progress (it says ‘peat in progress’ on the tube) This one is allegedly 3 years old and while difficult to get hold of in the UK, was only £35 a bottle at cask strength. Kilkerran are planning to release a regular 15 year old quite soon. The peat level is supposed to be slightly higher than Longrow at 70-80ppm instead of 50-55ppm.
Aha, all of that sounds far more promising. Thanks!
If this is three years old then it may be the best three year old whisky I’ve had.