...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Single Malt Report: Kilkerran WIP 7 Bourbon Wood Cask Strength

If you've read one or all of my Kilkerran reviews, you may have quickly noted my enthusiasm for this Glengyle-produced single malt.  I love the stuff.  It's one of the few whiskies that gives me hope, reminding me that new great whisky is still being made in Scotland.  And though they keep calling each of their whiskies a "Work in Progress", we shouldn't keep holding our breath for the final result.  Each of these WIPs are good to excellent right now.

But the WIPs will end, allegedly, this year as the 12 year old will enter the market.  I wonder what color the label will be.  Here are the WIP colors thus far:

WIP 1: White label
WIP 2: Gray label
WIP 3: Light green label
WIP 4: Beige label
WIP 5: Blue label (Bourbon Wood & Sherry Wood)
WIP 6: Pink label (Bourbon Wood & Sherry Wood)
WIP 7: Dark green label (Bourbon Wood CS & Sherry Wood)

Sure there are some questions.  Will they release two whiskies again: an ex-bourbon and an ex-sherry?  Which will have aged better?  Will they have a cask strength version of the 12?  Will they throw in an NAS CV like Springbank?  How about a port cask?

It's fun to speculate, but it's even better to drink what's already here.  And here is WIP 7, an 11 year old single malt, aged in former bourbon barrels and bottled at cask strength (or a high batch strength, more likely).

Sorry, I can't find a photo of
the sample bottle. So here's an official
bottle shot.

Distillery: Glengyle
Brand: Kilkerran
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 11 years (2004 - 2015)
Maturation: ex-bourbon American Oak barrels
Alcohol by Volume: 54.1%
Label color: Dark green
Limited release: 6000
Thank you to smokypeat for the sample!

Immediately upon nosing it, I involuntarily released a simian grunt of approval.  That forest floor note in the nose has become like a welcoming old buddy in every new WIP.  The peat reads larger in this edition than any of the previous ones, maneuvering back and forth between BBQ and salty seaweed.  Perhaps that's due to the bigger ABV?  My notes read "rocks!". So apparently I smelled rocks.  Notes of apples, pears, and vanilla roll about in the background.  With lots of air, notes of fresh cherries and mango develop.

In the palate an intensely aromatic fruit note merges with the peat and malt and earth and salt. Big fruity and almost floral esters coexisting with the grunge.  A bold herbal bitterness and spice.  Hints of almonds and dried apricots.

A very long finish.  Moderate sweets and spices.  A little bit of vanilla and sugar.  Forest floor, malt, peaty residue, and a hint of blossoms.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
Bringing the alcohol level down to the previous releases, the whisky becomes reminiscent of those WIPs but again with more peat in the nose.  There's seaweed, dirty hay, lemons, and roses.

The palate gets a little sweeter.  Very aromatic in the mouth, without being perfumy.  I wrote "Battle Flowers".  I was apparently getting poetic, as it must have reminded me of my Mathilda Rose.  Anyway, it's richly malty with just a little oak.

Rocks and soil and flower petals in the finish.  Herbal bitterness and whispers of peat smoke.  Limes in sugar.

How much did I like it?  Well, I never buy more than one bottle of anything (because money), but I bought two bottles of this.  It didn't hurt that I found a place that had priced it incorrectly.  Sorry, but they've since fixed that.

If you liked WIP 5 and/or 6, you'll like this one too.  It's fruitier and peatier than those, and has a thicker texture.  Some of that may be due to the higher strength.  But yet there seems to be less oak and more vivid spirit in this one, even with water added.  It's rich without feeling like it's been produced or prettied up.  Whatever it is they're doing, they need to keep doing it.  My goodness.

Once again, Kilkerran reigns as my favorite autumn whisky.  But, you know, it probably drinks just fine in the winter too.

Availability - It's around but slowly disappearing...
Pricing - this edition will run $70-$90 in the US; similar in Europe when factoring in shipping
Rating - 90