It’s a short week of whisky reviews—the month having started on Monday—and so I had to rummage around to see what I had a natural duo/pair of. And in the depths of the sample drawer I found two Kilkerran hand-filled casks. These were both acquired with the other Campbeltown hand-fills I reviewed late last year and earlier this year. I hope you don’t recall that the first of those was a set that was filled at Springbank in August (here, here and here); and the other a set that was filled there in October (here, here and here). Let’s take these Kilkerran hand-fills chronologically as well, and start with the August cask. A reminder: these hand-fill casks are not exactly single casks—as they are topped off from time to time—and don’t have vintage or age statements associated with them. I’m not even sure what cask type or types go into the vattings; and if I recall what I was told correctly, they aren’t even filled from casks per se but from large glass containers. If I’m in error about any of this, I hope someone will correct me in the comments.
Kilkerran Hand-Filled, August 2022 (57.4%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Sweet off the top with mineral oil and wet wool; on the second sniff there’s pepper and a bit of soot and some lime peel. With time the sweetness moves in the direction of vanilla; the soap from the palate doesn’t turn up here. With more time the pepper takes the lead here. A few drops of water pull out some ham brine and a hint of musky fruit (can’t quite pick it); the lime turns to citronella.
Palate: Comes in with the lime and pepper in the lead but with everything else here as well. Starts turning quite sweet as I swallow. Approachable but hot at full strength with oily texture. On the second sip there’s a soapy note under the lime that expands and then lingers. It doesn’t dissipate with time/air though there’s now some candle wax to go with it. Let’s see if water fixes it. Well, it doesn’t make it disappear but it does mitigate it, first melding it with the pepper and the lime and then turning it a bit floral.
Finish: Long. The sweetness expands and it’s on the verge of getting cloying (simple syrup) before the pepper resurfaces. The soap lingers here too after showing up on the palate even as the pepper expands. As on the palate with water.
Comments: I really liked the nose once the initial sweetness wore off but the soapy thing on the palate was a bit too much for me; and even before that it was a bit too sweet on the palate and finish. Water fixes it a bit on all counts but not enough. After the first few sniffs I thought this would be in the mid-high 80s but it ended up quite a bit lower for me. This brings my very positive streak with Kilkerran to a halt. Let’s see if Friday’s hand-fill gets it back on track.
Rating: 82 points. (Pulled up by the nose and water.)