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

Kilkerran WIP 2 Oak Cask

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Distillery/Brand: Kilkerran | Region: Campbeltown | ABV: 46% | Color: Pale Straw
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93

Review
I seem to be on a bit of a Campbeltown run of late having reviewed around 6 or 7 in the last month alone. It’s been fun, I’ll have to admit. Some nice Longrows, some decent Springbanks and, my favorite of the lot, the Kilkerrans from the Glengyle Distillery.

The name of ‘Kilkerran’ is derived from the Gaelic ‘Caenn Loch Cille Chiarain’ (which translates as ‘head of the loch of Saint Kerran’).

I reviewed two Kilkerrans earlier this month. Both sixth editions of the Work In Progress series. The Work In Progress, or WIP, series is a line of expressions from Campbeltowns newest distillery. Basically what they did was release an expression every year since 2009 when their whiskies reached 5 years of age.

The plan was to release one every year until they hit the standard 12 years. So far I have been a fan. I can only imagine how good the 12 year old will be.

Having tried the WIP 4, 5 & 6 (both sherry and oak finishes) I managed to snag an earlier bottling. This one is a WIP 2 released in 2010 making it six years old, matured in bourbon casks and bottled at 46%.

Nose: Cereal. Barley. Light honey. Grist. Hint of lemon. Green leaves. Fresh grass. Light wood. White grapes. Mild fennel. Cucumber peel. Beeswax. Beautiful nose. Perfectly controlled.

Palate: Smooth. Cereal. Lemon. Spices. Mild herbs. Leafy greens. Wood. Barley. Get’s fruitier mid-palate. Green apples. Lemon zest. Peppers. The lovely delivery feels young and has a nice element of grist.

Finish: Medium. Spices. Oak. Dry grass.

This is what happens when you don’t compromise on the quality of your casks or your trade. No matter the age you can create truly exceptional whiskies if you do things well.

Rating: 93

Kilkerran WIP 6 Sherry Wood

Kilkerran WIP 6 Sherry
Distillery/Brand: Kilkerran | Region: Campbeltown | ABV: 46% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 91

Review
Glengyle Distillery, where Kilkerran is distilled, opened it’s doors in 2004 and is the newest distillery in Campbeltown. It is also fast becoming my favorite from the region, too, given the quality of the spirit that leaves through it’s doors.

What is nice was every year after the third (when it legally qualified to be called whisky) Glengyle release a sherry and a bourbon matured expression entitled Work In Progress. So the WIP 1 was a four year old spirit released in 2009.

Now I know this is done purely for commercial reasons but when the spirit works so well and has been so expertly crafted it then becomes a pleasure to be actually part of that journey.

The WIP 6 marks ten years of the distillery’s operations which means this years’ release has some decade old spirit in it.

Matured in European sherry and bottled at 46%.

Nose: That briny coastal sea salt which can be found in the bourbon wood expression is present here as well. Herbs. Earthy mild peat. Cigar leaf. Pecan nuts glazed in sugar. Light soy sauce. Red wild berries. It’s a comforting red sherry that I like.

Palate: Creamy fruit cake. Cinnamon dust. Chocolate bananas. Herb infused brownies. Oaky with a hint of peat. Prunes. Lovely ginger spices at the end. This is such a classic sherry matured palate.

Finish: Long with oily oak. Caramel marchiato. Cinnamon.

Lovely spirit with controlled sherry influence.

Rating: 91