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

Springbank 10, July 2022 Release

Springbank, as you know, has become one of the most highly allocated distilleries in the US. It has become all but impossible to find the 12 yo Cask Strength or the 15 and 18 year olds in the wild; and even if you do find them, the prices asked might make the blood drain from your head. And let’s not even talk about the Local Barley or single cask releases. From the regular lineup the 10 yo is the only one that can still be found from time to time without extra effort—at least in Minnesota—and, at roughly $80 before tax, it is almost a reasonably priced whisky in this current extremely stupid market. Relative to age, that is, Relative to quality, I have to say that $80 seems like a very good price compared to many other whiskies that cost more—and, for that matter, many other whiskies that cost less. I loved the March 2021 release that I reviewed a little less than a year ago. And so when I walked into my local Total Wine and saw the July 2022 release sitting on a shelf, I immediately reached for a bottle. Whiskybase tells me that this release was a vatting of 60% ex-bourbon and 40% ex-sherry casks (do the vattings vary across release dates in the same year? I wouldn’t think so). I opened the bottle right away and have been enjoying it over the last week and a half. Here now are some notes. 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

Longrow Hand-Filled, October 2022

Here is the third of this week’s trio of reviews of Springbank distillery hand-filled bottles from October 2022. I reviewed the Springbank from the set on Tuesday and the Hazelburn on Monday. I found that Hazelburn—as I had the August 2022 Hazelburn hand-fill—to be quite palpably peaty. In fact, blind, I would have guessed it was a Longrow. I also liked it a lot. Here now is the actual Longrow from the set and I can only hope that it will not turn out to be devoid of peat. I would also say that I expect to like this even more but the Longrow in the August trio was actually the weakest of that set (which is not to say it was bad). Let’s get right to it.

(As with the other Springbank hand-fills, there is no information on age, distillation here or cask type for this Longrow.)

Longrow Hand-Filled, October 2022 (57.6%; from a bottle split)

Nose: Earthy peat with a bit of savoury gunpowder, dried orange peel and dried mushrooms. Maltier and saltier on the second sniff. With more time there’s toffee as well. A few drops of water and the gunpowder recedes a fair bit and there’s more malt now. Continue reading

Springbank Hand-Filled, October 2022

I am having a hell of a time getting over jet lag after getting back from India last Friday afternoon. I have not had the energy to sit down and resize pictures and write my next restaurant report. Therefore, here, a day early, is this week’s second whisky review.

This is also the second of this week’s reviews of a trio of hand-fills bottled at Springbank in October 2022 (I did not fill them myself; I acquired the samples from the person who did). You may recall that I reviewed the Hazelburn from the set yesterday, and that I liked it a lot. I found quite a bit of peat in that Hazelburn, as I had in the August iteration as well. Will this Springbank be likewise atypical? Or will it be more in line with the Springbank in the August set, which I liked a lot? Let’s see.

Continue reading

Hazelburn Hand-Filled, October 2022

Back in November, I did a week of reviews of hand-filled casks from Springbank (a Hazelburn, a Springbank and a Longrow). Those casks were all filled in August of 2022. This week I have a set of reviews of hand-filled Hazelburn, Springbank and Longrow that were all filled in late October—not by the same person, neither of whom were me. As with the August and most other Springbank distillery hand-fills, these do not have vintage or age statements and nor are cask types specified. Indeed, I’m not sure if they’re even single casks per se, as opposed to containers that get topped up when they get low. If any regular visitor to Campbeltown knows more about how this hand-fill program works at Springbank, please write in below. I do know that I liked all three of the August hand-fills very much indeed. And, indeed, I may have liked the Hazelburn the most of the three. As sometimes happens with Hazelburn—nominally, Springbank’s unpeated distillate—I found a fair bit of peat in that previous iteration alongside fruit and the usual Springbank/Longrow earthy complex. Blind, I probably would have guessed that one was a Longrow. I’m not complaining, mind. Let’s see if this one lives up to Hazelburn’s official unpeated description. 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

Longrow Hand-Filled, August 2022

This week of Campbeltown hand-fills from August of this year began with a Hazelburn on Monday and continued with a Springbank on Wednesday. Let’s end with a Longrow. (A reminder: I did not fill these myself—I acquired these samples via a bottle split with the person who did.) Even though Hazelburn is supposed to be Springbank’s unpeated malt, I found a fair bit of smoke in there (and not for the first time). Well, Longrow is supposed to be Springbank’s heavily peated malt—will this one turn out to an anomaly as well? I do expect I will like it a lot either way as, usually, Longrow is my favourite variant of Springbank—and I really liked the last Longrow I reviewed, which also came directly from Campbeltown, having been issued by Cadenhead (who are owned by the same company that owns Springbank). This particular iteration of the hand-fill is pretty dark—quite a bit darker than the other two—which I would guess means sherry casks were involved at some point in this vatting. What will it all add up to? Let’s see. Continue reading

Springbank Hand-Filled, August 2022

My week of reviews of Campbeltown hand-fills continues. As with Monday’s Hazelburn, this Springbank was filled in August of this year (not by me). These hand-fills don’t have age or vintage statements and nor are the cask types disclosed. My understanding, as I said on Monday, is that this is because at Springbank these are not, as at most other distilleries, single casks that are replaced when depleted, but continuous vattings that get topped up once they get low. If you can confirm or deny that this is true, please write in below. Monday’s Hazelburn was somewhat uncharacteristic, being quite peaty (Hazelburn is supposed to be Springbank’s unpeated variant). Where will this Springbank fall on the spectrum? Let’s see.

Springbank Hand-Filled, August 2022 (57%; from a bottle split)

Nose: Nutty sweetness (almonds) with olive oil, mild brine and a bit of coriander seed. A bit of vanilla in the sweetness as it sits and also some acid below it (preserved lemon, a bit of tart-sweet apple). The preserved lemon expands as it sits and the almond and olive oil turn to almond oil. A few drops of water and the almond oil expands with some citronella coming up from below it. Continue reading

Hazelburn Hand-Filled, August 2022

Okay, after a week of bourbon reviews let’s do a week of Campbeltown reviews. This is going to be a very low-utility series as all the reviews are going to be of bottles that were hand-filled at Springbank (presumably) in August. I did not fill them myself; I went in on a bottle split with the person who did. My understanding is that these hand-fills are not single casks but more like infinity vattings that get topped up when they get too low. And given the likely foot traffic at Springbank in the summer it’s quite likely that the composition turns over every day or two. I’ll start with the Hazelburn—the triple-distilled, unpeated variant of Springbank—then go on to the Springbank hand-fill and finally end the week with the Longrow, which is nominally more heavily peated than Springbank. I say “nominally” because in practice it’s not always possible to tell the peat levels of Springbank and Longrow apart; and, in fact, I’ve even had a Hazelburn that had more than a bit of peat in it. Let’s see where this one falls. Continue reading

Springbank 18, 2021 Release

Having spent a week in October reviewing whiskies from Kilkerran/Glengyle, let’s close the month out with a whisky from the big boy on the Campbeltown block: Springbank. But as a month finishes, a week begins, and so let’s make this the first whisky of the week with sherry involvement. Now, the Springbank 18’s cask composition has varied a fair bit over the last decade or so. In most years there’s been a decent amount of sherry casks in the mix. In 2016 it was 80% sherry, 20% bourbon; in 2017 the ratio shifted to 60-40; in 2020 it was 55-45 and in 2021, 50-50 sherry and bourbon. Contrariwise, in 2015 and 2018 it was all ex-bourbon and in 2019 it was apparently 88% bourbon and 12% port. Meanwhile it appears the 2022 release (not yet in the US, I don’t think) is 65% bourbon and 35% sherry. (All this info, by the way, is pulled from the Whiskybase listings for Springbank 18.) Well, the most recent Springbank 18 I’ve reviewed was from the sherry-heavy 2016 release. I’ve not kept up with it since as in the intervening period—the whisky world having gone crazy—Springbank’s whiskies have become heavily allocated in the US. It was a major achievement finding a few bottles of the 2021 Springbank 10 this spring and when I saw that one of the stores I got those from had the 18 yo as well, I couldn’t resist it despite the high price tag. My first impressions were not super positive but the bottle’s come on nicely since then. Here now are my notes. 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

Springbank 10, 2021 Release

Let’s start the month with the closest thing there is to a sure thing in the world of Scotch whisky: a malt from the Springbank distillery. It’ll also kick off a week of reviews of official distillery releases.

This is the 2021 release of Springbank’s 10 yo, which is still their entry-level malt. The price has gone up quite a lot in just the last couple of years. I purchased two bottles in 2019 for $55 each; now the cheapest price I can see in the US appears to be about $85. Which is still a bargain compared to the prices asked for the now annual Local Barley releases, which have been of the same general age. I’ve liked all of those a lot and am curious to see how the regular 10 yo compares. The last of these that I reviewed was from the 2017 release (that was all the way back in 2018). I thought that was very good indeed and if this is as good I will be pleased. Let’s see. Continue reading

Longrow 11, 2007 (Cadenhead)

The first two entries in this week of peated whiskies that spent time in port casks were both from Islay, were both 8 years old, and were both distilled in 2013. Monday’s Bunnahabhain (bottled by Cadenhead) was double matured in a tawny port cask. Wednesday’s Kllchoman received a (presumably briefer) ruby port cask finish. Today’s Longrow (also bottled by Cadenhead) is both older than the other two by three years and spent far more time in a port cask: indeed, it was matured fully in a port cask. That may make it seem likely to be far more port-influenced than the others but it was also a refill port pipe. Depending on how many fills that port cask had gone through the port influence may in fact be quite muted. This is not my first review of a Longrow from a port cask—that would be the Longrow Red release from 2014 which was also a full-term port maturation, albeit in fresh port casks. I didn’t find that one—coincidentally also an 11 yo—to be overly wine-dominated but I also did not think it was anything so very special. Will this one be better? Let’s see. I did like both the Bunnahabhain and the Kilchoman a fair bit and it would be nice to end the week on a high note. Continue reading

Longrow 18, 2014 Release

Campbeltown week started out strong with the Kilkerran Work in Progress 1 and then hit a major pothole with a SMWS Glen Scotia 11, 2008 that ran completely counter to the quality and profile of all the other SMWS Glen Scotias I’ve reviewed in the last year. Here to set things right is a Longrow 18. This is from the 2014 release. By the way, the eventual symmetry in this week’s reviews was not planned. By which I mean I began with a Kilkerran released in 2009, moved on to a Glen Scotia released in 2019 (or maybe it was 2020) and am ending with a Longrow released right between those two in 2014. I purchased this bottle in 2015 and for some reason am only reviewing it in 2022. I am confident that it will set things right because the Longrow 18 is as close as you get to a sure thing in the world of single malt whisky (I’ve previously reviewed the 2008, 2011, 2019 and 2020 releases). Also, this is my third pour from the bottle and so I already know it is excellent. Prescience is easier when it follows experience. Continue reading