Kilkerran 8 Years Cask Strength (2021)
Kilkerran has been a long-time favourite of mine. Actually, it is one of the few distilleries of which I’ve bought whisky by the case. When the Kilkerran 12 Years was finally launched after years of Work In Progress releases, I found it of such high quality (and extremely friendly priced) that I couldn’t resist. It’s been several years since and Kilkerran has gone from strength to strength.
One of their more popular ranges has been a series of 8-year-old Cask Strength releases. At first matured in ex-bourbon but a sherry matured edition was released also in 2019. Unsurprisingly, it sold out much quicker than other editions and can now only be found at a big surplus on the secondary market. But if you really wanted one upon release it wasn’t really an issue to find one.
With whisky’s popularity still rising each month it seems, the announcement of another sherry-matured Kilkerran 8 Years Cask Strength made for a lot of nervous chatter. Would it be as good as the previous one from two years ago? And even more important for most people: how in the hell am I going to get my mits on one? The first question I can’t answer. I’ve never tried that other release. The second question is easier: you probably won’t. Sorry about that…
Kilkerran 8 Years Cask Strength (56.9%, OB, 2021)
Nose: Ouch, somewhat sulphury to start. Rubber soles and spent fireworks are in the driver’s seat initially. Roasted peanut skins, coffee ground and a touch of cinnamon rolls too, as well as some charcoal and mild smoke. Finally some crème de cassis and pralines.
Taste: The sulphur is actually more present. Quite smoky, some embers and matches as well. Notes of chewy raspberries too, as well as a good amount of walnuts, accompanied by cocoa powder and sour cherries.
Finish: Cotton candy and brown sugar, but also mocha and dry oak.
If you’d have told me this was matured in red wine casks, I would’ve probably believed you. The sulphur is not the end of the world, but it also remains baffling to me how these casks make their way into a bottle. In the end, this has a lot of flavour but the balance is off.
Photo: The Whisky Exchange
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.