Kilkerran 8 year Cask Strength 56.2%

From thriving to languishing to a recent resurgence, the Campbeltown whisky “region” that technically lost its status according to the Scotch Whisky Society. Today Campbeltown has only two producers – Springbank Distillery with its ‘extra’ plant Glengyle and Glen Scotia. Some of the distilleries that closed with prohibition and depression became brands under the Springbank family – Glengyle, Hazelburn and Longrow.

What do the Springbank/Glengyle folks have to say about their Kilkerran brand? A fair bit on the bottle label:

Mitchell’s Glengyle Ltd. are very proud to be continuing and adding to the great Campbeltown Distilling tradition and the choice of name reflects that Kilkerran is derived from the Gaelic ‘Ceann Loch Cille Chiarain’ which is the name of the original settlement where Sait Kieran had his religious cell and Campbeltown now stands. Kilkerran is thought to be a suitable name for a new Campbeltown Malt since it was unusual for the old Campbeltown distilleries to be called after a Glen, a custom more usually associated with the Speyside region.

A not to subtle dig at Glen Scotia?

But I digress… on to the most important matter at hand… what did we think of the Kilkerran 8 year seated cask strength whisky? Note… we sampled completely blind so the tasting notes are based purely on our thoughts and speculation before the “great reveal.”

Kilkerran 8 year Cask Strength 56.2%

  • Colour – I rather fancifully dubbed it “light sunshine”
  • Nose – Initially quite an oily peat, almost kerosene, sharp, a hospital dispensary, but then it began to mellow in the glass, revealing a fruity sweetness, some light seaweed and hint of brine, a bit of blue cheese or wet socks, shifting back to the peat with campfire embers, an earthy aroma, then more citrus sweet like a lemon tart and then betel nut
  • Palate – Fabulous! Peat perfectly balanced with sweet cinnamon and spice. Just a great balance between the three elements like a well cooked beautiful meal. Some chilli spices, more of that paan character too.
  • Finish – Sweet cinnamon
  • Water – This was a whisky that welcomes water and enables so much more to come to the fore…. Absolutely fabulous with water with a delicious creme caramel, milk chocolate, very creamy quality, like a salty caramel cheese cake, a bit perfume too

There was no doubt we loved it however a few remarked how the peat in the nose was initially so intense it took over the show. However after time to oxidate and the addition of water, everything clicked into perfect harmony. Particularly the balance on the palate was simply outstanding.

Our speculation turned to discussion the quality of peat – what was clear was this was no Islay yet most hesitated to guess beyond that. Overall we found it well constructed and clearly cask strength.

The reveal of Campbeltown and for most of us, only our second Kilkerran, was a cementing of a growing opinion that these folks clearly know what they are doing.

What else do we know? That it was distilled at Glengyle in Campbeltown, is non-chill filtered with no added colouring. We understand it is a 50 PPM.

This was their 1st release which is now sold out, so if you were curious about how much would this set you back…. will need to check out a different version of this whisky – currently retailing at Master of Malt for approx £49.96 – complete value for quality!

Here is our pedigree trio:

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Pedigree Malts – Midleton, Sullivans Cove, Kilkerran

There is no doubt that the world of whisky has changed and will continue to change. What has emerged are a few players that are truly “pedigree” even if their origins are not your typical Scottish… Brands that are being recognized for their consistent calibre…

We were treated to such a trio on a fine monsoon swept evening in Mumbai… Each was sampled completely blind with the reveal done only after all three were given our full and careful consideration.

What did we try in our Pedigree Malts?

While none of these are the “traditional” pedigree vintage whiskies, each has a dedication to quality that shines through.

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Sherry Element – Kilkerran 10 year WIP #6 Sherry Wood 46%

Last in our Sherry Elements evening was a Kilkerran from Campbeltown.  As it was our original club, we tasted strictly blind… leaving the reveal until all three whiskies were sampled.

Kilkerran 10 year “Work in Progress” Batch #6 Sherry Wood 46%

  • Nose – Peat,  medicinal capsule, stern, burnt wood, forest, a coal steam engine, then started to shift into lemon, licorice, coca cola, BBQ Sauce yet still some of that camphor peeping back, then shifted to candy floss super sweetness, what was so terrific was the way it kept evolving, even revealing brine
  • Palate – Sweet, thin, honey water, then as we kept sipping, it took on more character, yet very sweet – almost too sweet… then with more time the sweetness began to drop and it became much more balanced
  • Finish – After taste had peat, bitter and very long… then just as the nose… began to evolve and over time had a marvellous balance of sweet sherry and nuts
  • Water? Must admit none of us were tempted…

This time, our speculation on colour was that it seemed natural. We also thought it had a lower strength alcohol – somewhere between 43 – 46%…

Our conclusion was that this is a whisky that stands on its own, growing, taking its time to reveal more… one that needs you to wait… wait for it… wait for it… and be rewarded.

And the reveal? Bright cheerful pink packaging accompanied the Kilkerran sherry dram. For most this was a 1st experience with Kilkerran though we are certainly familiar with other Campbeltown drams with Springbank and their other brand avatars Hazelburn and Longrow

Opened in March 2004, Kilkerran, is the first distillery to open in Campbeltown in over 125 years, and the first new distillery in Scotland this millennium. 

And what do they say about their Work in Progress #6 Sherry?

  • Released in 2014. Only 9000 bottles available worldwide.
  • Nose: Bold and Beautiful. Clear, but subtle, European red oak notes, a real sherry matured star.
  • Palate: The sherry notes goes deeper on the palate. Dark chocolate, dates, prunes, hard toffee, molasses and gingerbread syrup. Honey-BBQ coated ribs without any of the smoke.
  • Finish: This Whisky holds a great poise, almost ballerina like. There is a true harmonious balance between all the components in this dram. It has a seamless, resonant finish, echoing in a deep, loving, sherry tone.

What did we sample in our “Sherry Elements” evening?

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Sherry Elements – Oban, Amrut, Kilkerran

As a whisky tasting group, we’ve sampled many a sherry matured cask over the years.. however we have not had an evening dedicated to different elements of sherry… until one fine evening in November 2017.

What did we sample?

And what made each of these distinctive?

1st off the Oban was not your standard familiar friend – the 14 year – no siree! It was instead a 15 year limited edition initially matured in an ex-bourcon cask then a Montilla Fino Cask.

Next up was an Amrut Intermediate Sherry purchased some 7 odd years ago and carefully kept. Again a combination of bourbon and sherry… with quite a complex and different character than the Oban.

And the Kilkerran? The Campbeltown offering was again Sherry wood… with a peaty element too.

None were full force sherry, each had a unique dimension, making our evening a most enjoyable exploration. All had been carefully collected over years by our host… none can be readily obtained today… of if you do, likely not quite the same as what we sampled.

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