Kilkerran Hand-Filled, October 2022

This week’s reviews are of a couple of Kilkerran distillery exclusive hand-filled casks. On Wednesday, I reviewed one that was filled at the distillery (or maybe at Springbank) in late-August 2022. Today I have one that was filled at the distillery (or maybe at Springbank) in late-October 2022. (I’m not sure because I was not the one who filled them.) The late-August hand-fill started out very nicely on the nose but then things went south in a hurry on the palate and finish. I’m hoping this cask will redeem it some. Let’s see how it goes.

Kilkerran Hand-Filled, October 2022 (58.9%; from a bottle split)

Nose: A very nice start with lemon, wet wool and peppery peat off the top and muskier fruit coming up from below (charred pineapple). Sweeter as it goes with some peach in there as well. With more time the lemon turns to lime and there’s some salt as well. Water pulls the passionfruit out here as well and mixes it with some vanilla (just a bit). Continue reading


Kilkerran Hand-Filled, August 2022

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Kilkerran Heavily Peated, Batch 5

As I said on Monday, this week will also be a week of reviews of peated whiskies. But unlike last week’s Caol Ila cluster (here, here and here), this week’s reviews feature peated whiskies from three different distilleries. The week began on Monday with a young Bunnahabhain bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. I liked that one a bit more than I was expecting to. Today, we’ll leave Islay and head to Campbeltown. Now this Kilkerran Heavily Peated I am expecting to enjoy quite a bit. It’s true I was not a big fan of Batch 1 but I loved Batch 4. Batch 5 should be more in line with Batch 4, right? That’s the hope anyway. Let’s see if it pans out.

Kilkerran Heavily Peated, Batch 5 (57.7%; from a bottle split)

Nose: A bit closed at first but then there’s almond oil, preserved lemon and a mix of mineral peat and coal smoke. The salt expands on the second sniff. With time it’s all about the preserved lemon, coal smoke and brine. Water pulls out earthier notes of putty, wax and burlap at first and then the pineapple from the palate emerges. With time it’s the preserved lemon that wins out again. Continue reading

Kilkerran Heavily Peated, Batch 4

Kilkerran week got off to a good start on Monday with Batch 6 in their 8 yo Cask Strength series, which was matured in sherry casks. It then hit a bit of a bump in the road on Wednesday with Batch 7 in that series, which was matured in port casks. Here now to close out the week is Batch 4 of a different Kilkerran series, the Heavily Peated. I’ve previously reviewed Batch 1 from this series, and I was not terribly impressed by it. You might think that would bode ill for this review but I think this one is a bit older. I believe the series—also referred to as Peat in Progress—features progressively older iterations of the heavily peated distillate. It doesn’t appear to be the case though that every release is a year older than the previous. As per Whiskybase, Batch 1 and Batch 2 both came out in 2019, Batch 3 in 2020 and both Batch 4 and Batch 5 in 2021; and Batch 6—the latest—came out this year. So this is probably only a little bit older than Batch 1. But enough to make a difference? Let’s see. Continue reading

Kilkerran 8 CS, Batch 7, Port Cask

Kilkerran week got off to a strong start on Monday with Batch 6 of their 8 yo cask strength series. That one was matured in sherry casks and was a lovely example of the earthy Campbeltown sherry profile that should be very familiar to aficionados of Springbank’s whisky. Today I have for you a review of Batch 7 which was matured in port casks. It’s no secret that I am in general dubious about port cask whiskies. That said, the port-matured whiskies that work best for me tend to be ones with peat in the mix and there’s certainly some peat in the mix in these Kilkerran 8 CS releases. Will that be enough to elevate this port cask release? Let’s see.

Kilkerran 8 CS, Batch 7, Port Cask (57.9%; from a bottle split)

Nose: Very much like the sherry cask at first sniff with roasted malt, damp earth, orange peel and brine in the front. Just a bit of sweetness around the edges to signal the port cask. More sourness on subsequent sniffs—tart cherry and orange but also oak—and a nutty/beany note. With time the sour oak recedes and the tart cherry and orange resolve to apricot; some char too now. A few drops of water push the oak back altogether. Continue reading

Kilkerran 8 CS, Batch 6, Sherry Cask

Following a week of Kilchoman and a week of Jamaican rum, let’s do a week of Kilkerran. As you may know, Kilkerran is not the name of a distillery but the brand of whisky produced at the Glengyle distillery in Campbeltown. (See here for why the whisky produced there is sold under the name Kilkerran and not Glengyle.) Glengyle is owned by the same people who own Springbank and made in much the same way. Or at least so I assume as I find a lot in common between the whiskies produced at Springbank and the Kilkerrans I’ve tried—I suppose you could put this down to terroir if you believe in it in the context of whisky. The one I am tasting today is the sixth batch in their Kilkerran 8 CS series. I’ve previously reviewed Batch 1 (ex-bourbon), Batch 4 (re-charred oloroso sherry) and Batch 5 (first-fill oloroso sherry). Batch 6 is also from sherry casks but there doesn’t seem to be any further detail on cask type specified. It was released earlier this year which makes this quite a timely review by my standards. Let’s get into it. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Kilkerran 8 CS, Batch 5, First-Fill Oloroso Sherry

There have been a few general batch-numbered releases of a Kilkerran 8 CS in recent years. Going off the Whiskybase listings it would appear that the first couple of of these appeared in 2017 (I am not counting previous single cask releases or releases available only at the distillery). The 2017 (Batch 1 and Batch 2) and 2018 (Batch 3) releases were from bourbon casks. I was not the biggest fan of Batch 1 and have not tried the second or third batches. Batch 4 was released in 2019—I reviewed it earlier this year and after an unpromising opening rather liked—and was matured in re-charred oloroso sherry casks. After a year’s break, 2021’s release (Batch 5) is once again from oloroso sherry casks but this time they were first-fill oloroso casks. This is the release I am reviewing today as the first in a week of sherry cask whiskies. On Wednesday I’ll check in with a Balvenie single sherry cask and I’ll close out the week appropriately on Friday with The Whisky Exchange’s recent “A Fine Christmas Malt”. But first let’s get into this one. Continue reading

Kilkerran Work in Progress 5, Sherry Wood

Closing out Campbeltown Week is the sherry cask counterpart to Wednesday’s excellent bourbon cask iteration of Kilkerran’s Work in Progress 5 release. This was, if I remember correctly, the first sherry cask release in the series—a feature repeated in the following Work in Progress releases. The Bourbon Wood was one of the best young whiskies I’ve had (and Monday’s 8 yo Glen Scotia was very good too). How will the Sherry Wood compare? Only one way to find out.

Kilkerran Work in Progress 5, Sherry Wood (46%; from my own bottle)

Nose: Though they’re exactly the same age and distillate this noses quite a bit younger than the Bourbon Wood with a mezcal-like note coming off the top. Below it is slightly rubbery peat, some lemon, some chalk and a lot of salt. Not much change with time. With a few drops of water it actually gets a little closer to the Bourbon as it becomes more austere and both the rubbery peat and the mezcal recede; more sweetness now: a bit of vanilla and some wet stones. Continue reading

Kilkerran Work in Progress 5, Bourbon Cask

Campbeltown Week began with a 8 yo Glen Scotia on Monday that I really liked. Here now is a 9 yo from the Glengyle distillery whose whiskies bear the Kilkerran name. Released in 2013, this was part of the fifth edition of their Work in Progress series that followed the distillate till the eventual issue of their standard malt. Until the 4th release these releases had been singular; with the 5th release they doubled, with a Bourbon Wood release and a Sherry Wood release. I’ve had most of the Works in Progress releases over the years but for some reason have only reviewed the Bourbon Wood releases from the 6th and 7th releases. If you need more info about Kilkerran/Glengyle, by the way, you should read the intro to my review of the 6th release. I should note here that even though the name of the distillery is Glengyle, I use the Kilkerran name in my category listings as I’m guessing that’s the name most people look for. I have yet to try a Kilkerran I did not like and so I have high expectations of this one. Continue reading

Kilkerran 8 CS, Batch 4, Re-charred Oloroso Sherry

The new month may have begun in the middle of the week but that doesn’t mean I’m going to  not keep this week themed as well. And no, the fact that Monday’s review was of a Springbank and today’s is of a Kilkerran does not mean the theme is Campbeltown. This will instead be a week of sherry cask reviews. I’m not sure what Friday’s review will be of but while I have a few sherry cask-matured whiskies on the long list for June I don’t have any more from Campbeltown.

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Kilkerran (almost exactly two years in fact) and indeed I’ve not reviewed very many of their releases or, for that matter, stayed current on what they’re up to. I’ve really liked all the Kilkerrans I’ve tried, though I think those may all have been from bourbon casks. Well, let’s hope I find this one to be a better exemplar of the distillery’s style than I did Monday’s Springbank Local Barley. Continue reading

Kilkerran Heavily Peated, Batch No. 1

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. Continue reading

Kilkerran 8 CS, Batch 1, Bourbon Cask

I don’t really keep up with whisky news any more and so I don’t really know much about how or why it is that Glengyle released this 8 yo Kilkerran last year. The only other age-stated Kilkerran I know of is the 12 yo (which I reviewed here) and so I’m not sure why they seem to have followed it up with a younger one—isn’t that what the Work in Progress series was for? I guess we should just be glad that they’re putting age statements on their new whiskies.

This is put together entirely from bourbon casks—and as I recall, I quite liked the last Work in Progress release I tried that was from bourbon casks and at cask strength. Let’s hope this one is as good (though it’s a bit younger than the other). I haven’t tried all the Work in Progress releases but I haven’t yet tried any Kilkerrans that I thought were less than good.  Continue reading

Kilkerran 12

Kilkerran 12
Kilkerran, as previously explained, is the name of the whisky produced by the Glengyle distillery in Campbeltown. They’re a part of the Springbank family and, as I’ve also noted before, the Kilkerran profile bears lots of genetic markers of the Springbank/Longrow line. This profile has until now been accessible only through a few years worth of “Work in Progress” releases—(not-so) small batches released every year after the distillate got past the legal minimum of three years, showing the progress of the aging barrels. Unlike Bruichladdich with their Port Charlotte line, the Kilkerran WIPs were not put together in complicated ways and were thus likely to be pretty good indicators of what the profile of the eventual regular release would be. I will say that I’ve liked every edition of the WIP that I’ve tried (though I’ve only reviewed a couple so far) and I’ve thus been looking forward to the regular release, which I’d thought would be ready at 10 years of age. Well, the distillery waited till it was 12 years old, which brought us to 2016. Towards the end of the Work in Progress series they started putting out parallel sherry and bourbon wood expressions; it turns out that this 12 yo is a vatting of 70% ex-bourbon and 30% ex-sherry casks.  Continue reading

Kilkerran Work in Progress 7, Bourbon Wood

Kilkerran, Work in Progress 7, Bourbon Cask
I think the seventh release was the last of Kilkerran’s Work in Progress series. As with the previous couple of Work in Progress releases it came in both “Bourbon Wood” and “Sherry Wood” incarnations. However, this bourbon wood version was released at cask strength. I think by this point these releases were at 10 years old, give or take a year—someone will be along to confirm shortly. I don’t know if there’s a reason why this, of all the WIP releases, was bottled at cask strength (or why the companion sherry wood wasn’t). The regular release 12 yo that followed it this year is at the 46% of all the other Work in Progress releases. Anyway, I quite liked the bourbon cask Work in Progress 6, which I reviewed earlier this month (and which I tasted right before this one) and am looking forward to reviewing the regular 12 yo next month: let’s get this intervening release out of the way first.  Continue reading

Kilkerran Work in Progress 6, Bourbon Wood

Kilkerran Work in Progress 6, Bourbon Cask
Until Kilkerran’s whisky began to be available a few years ago there were only two functional distilleries in Campbeltown—once the heart of Scottish whisky production. These distilleries were/are Glen Scotia and Springbank. Now Springbank does produce the Hazelburn and Longrow malts as well, but as any whisky geek will tell you, these are merely production variants of Springbank, produced at the same distillery. Kilkerran, however, is distilled at a completely different distillery. Confusingly, the distillery’s name is not Kilkerran but Glengyle. And Glengyle has a long and convoluted history: it was founded in the 1870s but by the early 1900s was not really making whisky anymore. After a number of abortive attempts to get it going again throughout the century it was finally re-started in 2000 by the same people who own Springbank—bringing the distillery full-circle: it was originally started by a member of the same family who’d broken away from the Springbank business. However, at this point Glengyle was a brand name owned by Loch Lomond (who operate Glen Scotia) and so Kilkerran was the name chosen for the malts made at the reopened Glengyle distillery. Continue reading