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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Kilkerran 8 year old Cask Strength, recharred Oloroso casks (57.1%abv)

Yes, another sherried Kilkerran! Though this one comes with a different sort of built-in expectations. After enjoying all of the Kilkerran Work In Progresses, I found the first(?) batch of 8yo CS to be disappointing, so much so that I'm still trying to blend it up into something better almost three years later. I also publicly swore off any further batches unless the CS got older or got sherry. The latter has come to be. 15,000 bottles of sherry cask CS action hit the market last year and was very VERY popular, and the secondary market prices did what they do. I'm happy to have gotten in on a bottle split so I could actually try the stuff and report back.

It was to my partially-naïve surprise that my sample bottle arrived with a "recharred" notation on it. Yes, the entire batch was fashioned from re-charred sherry casks. Springbank has been doing this sherry cask re-charring quite a bit over the past two decades and aren't hiding it. Allegedly, the 19yo 1997 sherry cask Springer I loved so was from a re-charred butt and I don't think the re-char process harmed it because the Springbank spirit met the cask head-on and fought it to a thunderous draw. That does not happen often, but I hope the young Kilkerran spirit survives.

Distillery: Glengyle
Owner: Mitchell's Glengyle Limited
Brand: Kilkerran
Region: Campbeltown
Age: minimum 8 years
Maturation: re-charred oloroso casks
Limited release: 15,000 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 57.1%
(from a bottle split)

The nose is heavier, tarrier and smokier than Monday's 8yo sherried Kilkerran. And perhaps my new knowledge is influencing this, but I'm getting a basic charred American oak note. And burnt bark. Otherwise, there are guava and lime juices, mint candy, baked apples, a hint of yeast and some sort of mango-vanilla creme dessert. The palate proves problematic right up front, as it's all bitter oak, sugar, cardboard and limes. It needs a lot of air. Then it gets nuttier, leafier. There's a pepper + ocean note reminiscent of Talisker DE. A bit of tar. Still feels kinda tight, though. The finish is bitter, tart, leafy and salty.

Watering this one down:

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
This lightens it up. More tropical fruit in the nose, as well as something savory. There's also a decent combo of citrus, anise and faint wood smoke. The palate is better, rounder. Dry sherry, walnuts, salt. A tangy citrus and a less-woody bitterness. The finish matches the palate, with the saltiness lingering longest.

The first two sips worried me. I knew my palate wasn't screwy because I was tasting this whisky along with the Open Day 2016 bottling, but I was concerned that the re-charring had gotten into my head. With time the palate improved, but not enough. Dilution unlocked the palate's better elements. The nose works pretty well with or without water, but ultimately whisky stuff is made for drinking. I don't think the whisky meets the hype, which was likely stirred by a desire similar to mine for a sherried cask strength Kilkerran, and then was further stoked by the darkness of the liquid. It's a good sherry cask whisky for its original SRP of €60, but not at secondary prices for two to three times that amount.

Availability - Mostly sold out on the primary market
Pricing - see just above for this info
Rating - 84 (diluted only, it's 5+ points lower when neat)

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