Kilkerran 16

Last week’s reviews were all of bottles filled from the hand-fill casks at the Springbank distillery in October 2022 (Hazelburn, Springbank, Longrow). Let’s stay in Campbeltown at least to start this week. But instead of Springbank, let’s go down the road to Glengyle, which is where Kilkerran is distilled. And instead of whiskies bottled only at the distillery shop, let’s do a general release. The Kilkerran 16 was first released in 2020. There were releases in 2021 and 2022 as well. Apparently, these releases have had different cask compositions, varying further by market. The 2020 US release was 98% ex-bourbon and 2% ex-madeira, for example, whereas the 2020 European release was 96% ex-bourbon and 4% ex-marsala. On the other hand, the 2021 US and European releases were both 75% ex-bourbon and 25% ex-sherry. The 2022 European release upped the sherry to 30%; if there’s been a 2022 US release it’s not on Whiskybase yet, and so I can’t tell you if it follows the 2020 or 2021 approach.

The other thing I cannot tell you is which release I am reviewing today. At the time that I acquired this sample, I had no idea there was so much variation and so didn’t ask. I have asked my source now if he can find out and he’s hunting for his bottle to check the code. If I hear, I will update the review later. I’ve heard from my source and this was from a bottle of the 2021 US release. So, 75% ex-bourbon and 25% ex-sherry. What I can tell you is that the 16 yo costs a pretty penny in the US. It’s currently available in the Twin Cities for $160, which makes it easier $176 with tax. Meanwhile in the EU it can be found easily for less than 100 Euro. We can thank the US importer for huge discrepancy (and also for the ludicrous prices currently charged for anything from Springbank). Could the whisky possibly justify the US price? Let’s see.

Kilkerran 16, 2021 Release (46%; ex-bourbon and sherry; from a bottle split)

Nose: That familiar Springbank/Kilkerran earthy-peaty complex but with a big sweet layer floating on top: brown sugar, sweet orange. As it sits the orange expands and there’s some brighter fruit to go with it (pineapple?). With time the fruit moves in the direction of hard candy. After about 30 minutes the sweet notes are no longer on top; instead, the earthy notes expand, with some burlap in there along with coriander seed. With water the brighter fruit gets pushed back and there’s a bit of cream and a bit of damp paper.

Palate: Citrus here too but it’s not as sweet and is balanced nicely with the prickly, earthy notes. Very nice texture and a bigger bite than the abv would indicate. More coal smoke as it sits and the salt emerges earlier. With more time the salt turns into rock salt. Okay, let’s add a bit of water. Much saltier now and the coal smoke expands as well.

Finish: Long. The prickly peat eases out slowly and then the salt emerges. With time there’s some powdered ginger here as well and then a lot more prickly peat and cracked pepper. As on the palate with water.

Comments: This is very nice indeed, even if lacking the complexity you might expect to see showing up in a 16 yo whisky. It is probably better than many other whiskies of similar (and lower) age that cost $175, but I can’t justify that price. Though it does have the effect of making $80 before tax seem like a great price for the 12 yo.

Rating: 88 points.



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