Kilkerran 12yo (46%, OB, 70% Bourbon Casks, 30% Sherry Casks, 16/468)

After many WIP’s, Works in Progress, 2016 finally saw the release of the official 12yo. As far as I know there were four, 700 ml batches released in 2016 (16/316, 16/326, 16/363 and 16/468), and one 750 ml batch. The one I’ll be reviewing here should be the fourth, and last, 700 ml batch released in 2016. Earlier I reviewed two WIP’s. First the grey WIP #2 from 2010 (6yo) and the green WIP #3 from 2011 (7yo). Thus fast forward to this 12yo. Both WIP’s were amazing and just like the Bruichladdich 2007 Islay Barley, I reviewed last, perfect examples that good Whisky doesn’t need to have to have heaps of age. Amazing young stuff is coming out these days. The future still looks bright if you can accept the change…

Color: Straw pale gold.

Nose: Definitely some autumn-like-peat happening here. Fatty, floral, green and lots of summery and fresh yellow fruits. Sweet and acidic. Nice waxy, slightly smoky, edge accompanied with nice wet and dry oaky aroma’s. All well-integrated (now). Kilkerran, just like most other Whiskies from the people of  Springbank, needs to breathe a lot. Freshly opened, I was quite disappointed with this one, lacking depth concentrating on all the wrong flavours and overall not very nice to drink, and that’s saying something, since I love the output from Campbeltown. At the time of writing my bottle is half-full (or half empty if you are a pessimist), and the change is remarkable. Coal and some tarry bits, unbelievable it got this well-balanced and downright delicious, after the more than poor start. Peaches and smoked pepper. Excellent stuff.

Taste: Sweet entry with yellow fruits in sweet yoghurt. White Peaches and old dried apricots. Smoke in the back of my mouth and again after extensive breathing so remarkably tight, big and balanced. All fits together quite well. A bit less complex than the nose was, but it makes up for this “simplicity” with big and luscious aroma’s. Green, and nutty (from the 30% matured in Sherry casks). Again a typical example of a bottle that won’t be around for long on my lectern. It’s not without its flaws, mind you. It hasn’t got the strongest finish. The finish is a bit thin, or seems thin after the big body, and falls apart a bit. Aftertaste reprises the big body with a creamy, vanilla feel to it.

So give it lots of time to breathe. Big from the start, big body, complex nose, a somewhat simpler taste with a medium to weak finish. Still nice and recommendable. I will most definitely pick up another 12yo after a few years to see what they’ve done with it, as well as other Kilkerran releases.

Points: 86

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Kilkerran 7yo 2004/2011 ‘Work in Progress 3′ (46%, OB, 15.000 bottles)

Last May I tasted the second work in progress (the grey one). And now have a look. Here comes my friend Erik who has the third work in progress with him. I still have the second one on my lecter so I will try both of them head to head. There are rumours there are two batches of this third Kilkerran. I have one here with 11/219 on the back of the label, but there is also word about another batch: 11/314. For the completists the 6yo has: 10/220 on the back of the label. 10 is probably the year 2010, 11 the year 2011. 219, 220 and 314 could be the 219th, the 220th and the 314th bottle runs of their consecutive years.

Color: Light gold, marginally darker than the 6yo.

Nose: Fresh, sea air. Soapy and oily. Some smoke. The 7yo seems to me to be less fatty that the 6yo. The 7yo is more refined, but definitively from the same family as the 6yo version. Also some peat and clay. More sea freshness in this one. Lemon curd. In the nose this one has more of everything when compared to the 6yo. The 6yo is more meaty and musty.

Taste: Wood, and powdery. A bit of sour oak. Oily peat. Spicy wood. A bit thin on the finish. The 6yo was definitively fattier and thicker. The finish of this 7yo has more acidity to it, and more wood.

Strange enough this almost scores one point less and the culprit is the finish. The younger expression has a more meatier finish, more body and less acidity. Dirtier, something I liked a lot when tasting the 6yo alone. I guess this is only detectable when tasted head-to-head. Both are safe bets and show a lot of potential. The 6yo is obviously slightly simpler. Both score the same, but I like the 6yo better, I hope this transition into less dirtiness doesn’t continue in the 8yo that was released earlier this year. The 6yo seems stronger too.

Points: 86

Thanks go out to Erik for bringing this bottle.

Kilkerran 6yo 2004/2010 ‘Work in Progress 2’ (46%, OB, 15.000 bottles)

This time a ‘new’ Campbeltown malt. Although the original Glengyle started in 1872 and closed again in 1925. The ‘new’ one started in 2004. Most of the distilling equipment come from the defunct Ben Wyvis distillery. Campbeltown used to be the center of the whisky world, but only Springbank and the intermittent Glen Scotia remain. Slowly some old names are revived. Longrow and now Glengyle. The name Glengyle was not for sale as the distillery was, so it’s called Kilkerran instead. Since 2009 an annual work in progress is released. We’ll have a look at the second WIP, that has the grey label.

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Oily, fatty, some distant peatyness. Meaty, gunpowder and lightly smoky, so it has a firm body. Tarry and Crème Brûlée Later on even some coffee and a powdery note.  This has already got a very promising character. After nosing this you already know you’re gonna like it! Well I do. If some whiskies are elegant, this one is of the street, it’s dirty, it’s a bit naughty. Ahhh yes, we like naughty.

Taste: Yeah! Leafy and simple. It’s like dry leaves infused in some velvety light oil with licorice. It has some wood, but as a nice component of the whole. In the middle of the wood sits something sour. It’s almost a designer dirty whisky. Not overly complex, but oh so enjoyable. This is great and 46% is just right for something like this. In the finish you’ll have some black pepper first and after that a hot flash, like some red pepper powder.

We all like to say that the old stuff is better, and “they just don’t make it like that anymore”. Now just have a look of some of those new malts around. And it’s not only Kilkerran, but Kilchoman too, aren’t they making fabulous stuff? And the stuff is just seven years old to boot. Both of them. And if this as good as it is now, how will it be at the planned 12 years old? We just have to wait untill 2016 to try that. But untill then we’ll be just as happy with the annual WIP’s. Forget about cocaine and XTC, there’s a new uncolored and unchillfiltered drug in town and it’s called Kilkerran…(and Kilchoman).

A work in progress, keep on working people, you’re on the right track here.

Points: 86

To be complete:

The first work in progress had a white label, is 5yo, was issued in 2009 and yielded 12.000 bottles.

The third work in progress had a mossy green/cream label, is 7yo, was issued in 2011 and yielded 15.000 bottles.