Kilkerran Work in Progress 1

People who have come to single malt whisky more recently probably get impatient when people like me talk about how different things were 10-15 years ago in terms of selection and price. But what you don’t understand is the hardships we also went through then. For example, when Kilkerran started releasing their Work in Progress series annually in 2009 they didn’t put the years or any other identifying marks on the labels. The only way to know which was which was by the colour of the label. And as in that period you didn’t need to rush out within hours of release to be sure of getting a bottle of even limited releases—and could indeed wait a year or three before buying anything—you would often find yourself in a shop looking at a bottle of Kilkerran Work in Progress, trying to work out what colour the label was and whether it was one you already owned. This was, I tell you, a terrible, terrible hardship. No matter whatever else may have happened in the whisky world since, I think we can all be glad that nightmare is over.

I have followed the Work in Progress series from the beginning but have somehow only reviewed the 5th (sherry, bourbon), 6th and 7th releases (the bourbon wood releases only in the latter two cases). And so when Michael K. of Diving for Pearls offered me a sample of the 1st release I jumped at it. Of course, after it arrived I realized that I still have an unopened bottle on my shelves, along with an unopened bottle of the 3rd release. Maybe I purchased a second bottle thinking I was purchasing the 2nd or 4th release? Who knows? I do know I finished a bottle a long time ago. I don’t have much memory of it, however, beyond liking it. And so I’m looking forward to renewing the acquaintance.

Kilkerran Work in Progress 1 (46%; from a sample from a friend)

Nose: Mineral peat, lemon, wet stones and some charred oak; in the distance, a car mechanic in greasy overalls. A bit of rubber too. As it sits the char expands—becoming sootier—and so does the fruit—becoming sweeter. Some vanilla too now. With time there’s a fair bit of salt here as well, mixed in with the lemon. Water washes it out a bit with the wet stones

Palate: Comes in with an emphasis on the wet stones and now peppery olive oil and some putty as well. No off notes at all which is quite remarkable for a 4-5 yo whisky. The texture and bite are pretty good too at 46%. Increasingly Springbank/Longrow as it sits with brine and coriander seed and burlap joining the party. Continues in the same vein with time and air. Okay, let’s see what water does. It sharpens the whole: both the smoke and the fruit are now more acidic.

Finish: Medium-long. The peat turns bitter (carbon paper) and then there’s quite a bit of salt at the end. Longer and more acidic here too with water—the salt is still here too.

Comments: Quite something how good this series was from the get-go. And no surprise, more than a decade down the line, how good older Kilkerran has proved to be. I am very glad I have a full bottle of this.

Rating: 86 points.

Thanks to Michael K. for the sample! (I don’t believe Michael has reviewed this himself; at least I couldn’t find his review on his blog.)



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