The story of Kilkerran, made at Glengyle Distillery, is well-known. Originally built to help preserve the whisky region of Campbeltown, it has grown into a full-fledged, mature single malt in the nearly two decades since.
The shared DNA with sister distillery Springbank is remarkable. (Although maybe a little less so considering Glengyle’s barley is floor-malted at Springbank.) Whenever someone mentions the traditional Campbeltown style, my mind automatically goes to either Springbank or Glengyle.
Granted, there aren’t many other choices. (For now!) Yet, sometimes there’s a tendency to mention Glen Scotia in the same breath as the two J&A Mitchell owned distilleries. But while a very characterful distillate in its own right, I believe there are more differences than similarities.
The Kilkerran 8 Years Cask Strength series has been going for a while now. We’ve seen many of them over the years, most good if not excellent, but not all. I’m very confident in the new Bourbon Cask Matured, and picked up a bottle of it sight-unseen, something I wasn’t quite prepared to do with the Sherry Cask Matured edition.
Kilkerran 8 Years Cask Strength Bourbon (55.8%, OB, 2022)
Nose: Touches of wheat biscuits, but also slightly lactic and with some nice farmyard-y elements. Also hints of petrichor, stewed apples, and lemon. Then some teakwood, soft notes of campfire smoke, soot and chalk. Taste: An impressively oily mouthfeel. It is much more assertive on the palate. The peat is more noticeable, but there’s also a good pinch of salt, as well as some seaweed. Hints of charred lemons, green banana, and bitter oak. Finish: Medium to long. Lingering spices, a lovely maltiness, and chalkiness.
There’s sometimes this feeling of mezcal smoke, which is rather interesting. I thought the Kilkerran 8 Years Cask Strength Bourbon nosed very mature, while the palate showed a more youthful side.
Kilkerran 8 Years Cask Strength Sherry (57.5%, OB, 2023)
Nose: Quite a modern sherry influence, but thankfully not overly sweet. And any sulphuric notes are barely noticeable. Hints of tart blackcurrants, but also notes of raspberries. Then some sandalwood, breakfast tea and cigar boxes, followed by sultanas, cinnamon sugar, and nougat. Taste: Surprisingly, the mouthfeel is not as coating as the bourbon-matured version. Somewhat hot and spicy at times. Notes of mocha, some burnt rubber, and cassis. Touches of macadamia nuts, soot and struck matches. Finally a sliver of brown sugar too. Finish: Medium length. Quite tannic and wood-forward at times. Dry. But also a touch of leather, coffee and chocolate.
Not as heavily sherried as some of these have been in the past, which is a good thing. But the true Kilkerran DNA still has trouble fighting the cask. I like the Kilkerran 8 Years Cask Strength Sherry, but it also confirms my preference for bourbon-forward Kilkerran.