Kilkerran 12

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Distillery/Brand: Kilkerran | Region: Campbeltown | ABV: 46% | Colour: Gold
Nose: 8.4 | Palate: 8.4 | Finish: 8.4 | Overall Score: 8.4

Review
About five years ago at my clubs’ monthly mystery tasting I decided to take with me a relatively unknown whisky. Well, unknown to most of us, that is.

It was something I picked up on a whim without really knowing anything about it or the distillery. That whisky was the Kilkerran WIP 4. Met with many a raised eyebrow and unabashed lip smacking it became an instant hit at the gathering and ultimately my obsession.

For those who know me know two things about me.

Number 1 : I have a mild case of OCD. Which means if you give me something that is numbered and part of a series then I will move mountains to make sure I have the entire collection. It’s a sickness, I admit it.

Number 2 : I am irrationally fascinated by Campbeltown whiskies. No rhyme or reason. Just am.

Now imagine my state when you put both those things together. Even more so when the spirit in question is just so damned delicious. And, thus, began my quest to collect all the WIPs.

Glengyle Distillery, makers of Kilkerran, released the WIP 1, which was a five year old whisky, as a way of sharing the spirits’ journey until it’s final form as a 12 year old. Also no doubt as a crafty means of generating revenue which is fine by me. This was, you guessed it, followed by the WIP 2 and so on until last year they released their last and final WIP (the 7) which was a stunning bourbon cask bottled at cask strength.

And, finally, around two weeks ago they released their standard entry level – the 12 year old. I have been following this journey for a while now and was understandably excited when they announced the release. After making my pre-order I somehow managed to have it with me for a tasting I hosted a couple of nights ago.

Geeks that we are we didn’t try it straight and instead decided to do a vertical with the WIP 5,6 & 7 followed by the 12.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 46%

Nose: Immediate grill charcoal. Faint coal smoke. Almost industrial diesel. Not in an overpowering way but in a way that only Campbeltown can make appealing. Himalayan pink salt. Green olives in brine. Mexican lime. Vanilla. Very mild honey. Wild heather. Dry flowers. Love the nose. There’s an old-school oiliness to this that I love.

Palate: Touch bitter. But in a good way. Vanilla. Sweet lemon. Touch of oak. Consistent layer of smoke. Wet pebbles. That salt again. Get’s sweeter mid-palate. Butterscotch. And then black pepper pricks. Solid.

Finish: Medium to long. Oak. Lindt 90% cocoa. Ceylon black tea.

Overall Comments: I love it. I love the WIP 7 a bit more but this one is quite lovely. I love it because there is an element of old-fashioned whisky making that somehow comes through it’s oiliness and the fact that it’s more savoury than sweet. Something which I really like in a whisky. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it certainly is mine. What I appreciate even more is the highly affordable price tag. Under 40GBP in a world that has gone crazy is something to be lauded. So thank you Glengyle for not being greedy gits. And for producing this gem.

Overall Score: 8.4

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Favourite of Feis by Douglas Laing

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Our time on Islay was filled primarily going up and down the nine distilleries (yes, I’m including Jura, smart ass) and sampling the various wares each had on offer.

But unbeknownst to few there are a host of other tastings that happen on the island during the Festival. One such tasting was the one organised by Douglas Laing called Favourite of the Feis.

Conducted by Jan Beckers, the affable Belgian, they put on a good show and it’s always a fun to try some non-Islay whiskies while on the island. You know, just to get some perspective.

Fine. It’s just an excuse to drink more whisky. But you already knew that.

We trudged up the road from our cottage in Bowmore to the Gaellic School where the tasting was happening and were greeted by Caroline, Douglas Laing’s event coordinator and all round great gal. After taking over an entire table we sat down to see what the fuss was all about.

DL Tasting 02

Big Peat / Feis Ile 2016 Limited Edition / 48%
Nose: Light. Quite delicate. Touch of peat. Hard boiled sweets. Hint of lime. Melon rind. Red berries. Touch of honey. Vanilla.
Palate: Quite oaky. Spicy. That melon again. Hint of smoke. Hint of peat. Some citrus. Vanilla. Green berries. Garam masala.
Finish: Long. Oily. Touch of spice.
Overall Score: 6.7

1999 Bowmore 16 / Old Particular / 48.3%
Nose: Quite fruity. Like an assorted fruit basket. In an orchard. An orange orchard. Cinnamon. Granny Smith apples. Freshly grated coconut. Young leather. Caramel. Feels like a solid bourbon cask in play here. Parma violets. Super nose.
Palate: Very creamy. Lovely mouthfeel. Hibiscus. Quite buttery. Hint of all-spice. Very mild peat. Clove. Really liking this little gem.
Finish: Long. Floral. Touch of spice.
Overall Score: 8.5

DL Tasting 03

Rock Oyster / Cask Strength / 57.4%
Nose: Very spirity. Almost raw. Lots of lime. Wet wood. Buttery. Green leaves. But overwhelmingly spirity. Don’t like it.
Palate: Oaky. Cookie dough. Citrus. Touch of nuts. But that spirit feels far too turpentine-ish for me to take it seriously.
Finish: Longs. Spicy. Longer with a touch of water. Sweeter too.
Overall Score: 6.2

Aultmore 7 Years / Provenance / 46%
Nose: Sherry. Cigar leaf. Wet wood. Or wool. Take your pick. Blood oranges. Afternoon grass. Green tea. Milk chocolate. Wet clay. And now a sniff of some decay. Can’t put my finger on it. Cask about to go bad?
Palate: Very sweet. Milk chocolate. Nuts. Cinnamon. Oak. Quite oily. Soft delivery. But that nagging cask…
Finish: Medium. Roasted coffee beans. Touch of spice. Tobacco.
Overall Score: 6.7

Dl Tasting 04

Strathclyde 10 Years / Old Particular / 50.9%
Nose: Burnt caramel. Woody. Oranges. Rose water. Burnt toast. Fudge. Toffee. Butterscotch. Cream coffee liqueur. Like Baileys. I like it. Maybe because I like Baileys.
Palate: Soft. Well rounded. Nice delivery. Butterscotch. Quality Street toffee. Cinnamon. Touch of oak. Creamy caramel. Cadbury plain. Lovely!
Finish: Long. Oily. Touch of spice. Really like this one!
Overall Score: 7.9

Bruichladdich 26 Years / XOP / 52.1%
Nose: Lemon. Lime. All kinds of citrus. Sweet sugarcane. Assorted dinner greens. Quite herbaceous. Morning dew on freshly cut grass. Gets sweeter over time. Toffee. Canadian maple syrup. Brittle sugar candy. Soft fruits. Touch floral. Looks like they saved the best for the last.
Palate: Drying. Touch of oak. Milk chocolate. Garden greens. Melon rind. But now with just a hint of something bitter. Not in a bad way. This is quality stuff.
Finish: Beautiful. Long. Touch of spice.
Overall Score: 8.6

Seems like they saved the best for the last. Good call. Great evening overall with a surprise thrown in the end which I’ll talk about later. The Douglas Laing gang is a good bunch to have a tasting with. Lots of individual attention and care for everyone. Makes for a fun evening. Throw in a couple of stunners and you’re set.

Bunnahabhain 16 Amontillado / Feis 2016 Release

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Distillery/Brand: Bunnahabhain | Region: Islay | ABV: 54.1% | Colour: Yellow Gold
Nose: 8.2 | Palate: 8.4 | Finish: 8.0 | Overall Score: 8.2

Review
I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus of late. Brought on by writing too much about whisky and not enjoying it as much as I should. So I decided to take a little breather just to re-charge the old batteries a bit.

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit and relax with your drink without a paper & pen nearby. But I realised I missed doing this too so I decided to open the vault and bring out a Bunnahabhain to share with you guys.

My experience at Bunnahabhain was quite an amazing one. We were booked for a Managers’ Tasting which we had pre-paid and, unfortunately, could not attend due to unforeseen circumstances. Now those who’ve been to Islay will tell you that everyone you encounter goes out of their way to help you in some way or the other.

In our case it was the tasting manager, James. He was so understanding about our no-show that he not only let us and three other friends in on a single cask tasting at a later date he also shared with us samples of this years’ Festival bottles including this interesting 16 year old.

Matured for the first ten years in bourbon and then it’s remaining time in Amontillado sherry this is a rather pricey 16 year old (£250 at the distillery) with a total outrun of, yes you guessed it, 250 bottles. My sample is from an open bottle and served at 54.1% ABV

Nose: It’s quite perfumy. In a nice way. With an earthy spice. Cardamom. Quite delicate. Aniseed. Liquorice. Cranberries. Marzipan. Mild ground coffee. All-spice. Ginger. Dash of water gives it a slight cinnamon touch. I like this nose. It’s quite unusual. Has a really strong aniseed touch to it. Under normal circumstances I would have been quite critical but I like the fact that it’s so unusual. 8.2

Palate: Quite oily. Very chewy. Full bodied. My kind of delivery. Milk chocolate. Think Cadbury plain. Hint of rose water. Candied ginger. Honeycomb. A betel leaf crispiness. Hint of lime. White wine chardonnay. And that aniseed again. I like it. Beautiful texture. Again quite unusual on the palate. 8.4

Finish: Quite spicy. Chewy. Yes, aniseed. Nutty. Coats your mouth in a warm embrace. 8.0

Overall Comments: I like it. The only other Amontillado influenced whisky I’ve tried is the Laphroaig 2014 Festival Release. Quite to my liking as is this one. If you don’t like it immediately then allow it to grow on you. Because, believe me, it does.

Overall Score: 8.2