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Friday, August 7, 2020

Kilkerran 15 year old Oloroso Wood single cask

Welcome to the future! Ignore, for a moment, the daily horrors and realize 15-year-old Kilkerran exists. I'm not going to fire up The Chambers Brothers yet, but the years have indeed passed and now there's no need for a whisky fan to ask "What if they let Kilkerran age?".

Four of us considered splitting a $260 bottle of this Oloroso single cask, then decided against it. Now stores in Southern California are pricing it at nearly $500, which is $100-$150 more than individual flippers are trying for. Consider the tariffs and everyone's favorite importers, then consider how much of that $500 Springbank would actually receive. Welcome to the future! (The future, Mr. Gittes.

But the whisky. Look on the back label and you'll read something utterly outlandish: "This Kilkerran Single Malt Scotch Whisky has been matured for ten years in a fresh oloroso sherry butt, followed by five years in a refill bourbon hogshead." That right there is something called cask management. Or someone tripped over an "Oops!" cask five years ago. I'm not going to say which I believe, but...

I did wind up joining a larger group who split a bottle. My two ounces:

Distillery: Glengyle
Owner: Mitchell's Glengyle Limited
Brand: Kilkerran
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 15 years (May 2004 - October 2019)
Maturation: 10 years in a fresh oloroso sherry butt, then 5 years in a refill bourbon hogshead
Outturn: 280 bottles
Bottled for: U.S. of A.
Alcohol by Volume: 51.5%
(from a bottle split)

The nose's first wave of hazelnuts, pine and ocean remains for 10-15 minutes before revealing nectarines, melons and cherries underneath. Toffee pudding and sweeter fortified wine notes appear later. Calmer than the nose, the palate has some of the fruit but much more nutty dry sherry. Moderate notes of mesquite smoke and barn. Lightly sweet with some bitter oranges. Thick mouthfeel. It finishes with pine sap and smoke residue, gradually sweetening up with blackberries and blueberries.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose begins tilting toward a classic sherried Speyside style, then is rescued by small notes of seaweed and beef stock. The palate has become bitterer, but it also holds sweet cherries and a mild cigar. And a little bit of that seaweed. The finish is similar to the palate, though slightly sweeter.

It's good! But I'm of many minds about this whisky. If one is a fan of deeply sherried whisky then know this Kilkerran delivers on that level. For those Kilkerran fans looking for some Kilkerran in their Kilkerran, some digging needs to be done here. Though greatness was in this whisky's grasp, the first ten aggressive years nearly wiped out the excellent umami, fruit and phenolic notes. Dilution and air are again the key, so gradually apply more of each to find what you're looking for.

This can be a fun whisky in a historic sense (until the 20 year olds appear in five years) and if you can find it close to the distillery's suggested retail price then I'll bet it's a swell winter warmer. For my palate, though, I like the WIP 7 Sherry Wood a little better and the Open Day 2016 sherry cask even more.

Availability - Secondary market and secondary market-styled retailers
Pricing - All over the place
Rating - 87 (diluted)

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