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Friday, February 3, 2023

Things I Really Drink: Kilkerran 8 year old Cask Strength, Port Casks

Kilkerran's 8yo Cask Strength series has defied expectations for me, but in the wrong direction. Having adored the Work In Progress series, I was thrilled when the CS series was announced in 2017. I bought a bottle of the first batch in 2017, opened it immediately, but finished it five years later, after considerable effort. It wasn't bad whisky, but it was very disappointing compared to all of the WIPs. Then I got into three bottle splits of the lauded batch #4 (re-charred oloroso casks), but found them all to be extremely oaky. A bit soured on this series, I thought I'd ignore future batches. But then I split a bottle of the port cask-driven batch #7: port casks because I'm a fool.

Distillery: Glengyle
Owner: Mitchell's Glengyle Limited
Brand: Kilkerran
Region: Campbeltown
Age: minimum 8 years
Maturation: port casks
Alcohol by Volume: 57.9%
(from a 50/50 bottle split with Dr. Springbank)


The nose is surprisingly sulfurous at the start. And there's a mix of cheddar and Velveeta happening as well. Wet sand, roses, pomegranate arils, and red gummy bears arrive later. What kind of port was this?! Less scary than the nose, the palate offers up raisins and dried blueberries, flowers and yeast. Lots of sugar, lots of heat, and even more black pepper. It finishes with black pepper, grape jam and a hint of chocolate.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

No more sulfur! Quite a bit of American oak, though, on the nose. Vanilla, dried currants and potpourri up front, with something briny in the back. The palate starts off acidic and peppery, then picks up sweet dried berries and a few almonds. It finishes nutty, floral, and peppery.

DILUTED to ~40%abv, or 2¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Unsurprisingly, the nose is much calmer at this strength, just flowers, figs and currants. The palate is floral, tart, and peppery, and finishes similarly.


That's three for three for me. Batches 1, 4, and 7 just don't work for my nose and palate when the whisky is at full strength. They all need water, with this one requiring the most dilution. Its nose is unlike any other port cask whisky I've had, especially as the neat version arrives like a dirty PX cask. The palate works better, but there's too much pepper, and not enough of anything else.

Plenty of whisky remains in this bottle, which means I have many chances to tinker with dilution. But I refuse to let it hang around for five years. Fool me three times...

Availability - Mostly sold out?
Pricing - all over the place
Rating - 80 (diluted only)