Origin: Campbeltown (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry
Added coloring: No
Owner: J & A Mitchell & Co Ltd.
Average price: € 64.00
Official website: kilkerran.scot
The excellent founder has already told you about Kilkerran on two previous occasions, so please click on the links at the bottom of this article to refresh your memory.
Today, I’m talking about what has been one of this year’s most anticipated whiskies: Kilkerran Heavily Peated. The peculiarity of this new-old distillery is that over time it has offered a series of work-in-progress bottlings at low prices instead of coming out with expensive young versions in luxury boxes. In short, in total contrast to the various craft distilleries that have sprung up like mushrooms in the last ten years, and despite not being able to count on the economies of scale of the large groups, Kilkerran has focused on building the loyalty of enthusiasts rather than exploiting their wallets.
This strategy seems to have paid off, as each batch sells out quickly and sales of the main line begin to take serious market share.
Today I propose the second batch of their latest project, the Heavily Peated.
As you can understand from the name, we are in an atmosphere with a high concentration of phenols: 84 ppm to be precise (more than double that of Laphroaig, more than Ardbeg, and even higher than Port Charlotte). For the moment it has only 3 years of ageing, but remember that it’s a peat in progress. The aim will be to get to at least 8 years for the first regular bottling, and from there go up exactly as it did with its non-peated brother.
The beautiful natural colour with gold and wheat tones, a sign of the absence of additives and filtrations, already makes you start to salivate.
On the nose there is definitely a lot of peat: it moves above all on salty and oceanic tones, it isn’t very smoky, and is well grafted onto the alcoholic note, which however is rightly felt in the long run. If you aerate the glass well you can release sweeter scents of honey and (salted) butter, apple pie and cinnamon that suggest an excellent job of softening the peat, but with a more rustic and less engineered nature than that of the Ailsa Bay we reviewed some time ago.
If it seems almost gentle on the nose, in the mouth its character explodes with the power of a high-octane petrol: the lots of peat coats the tongue and palate with an oily layer, stimulating salivation and providing a strong sensation of warmth. Make sure you take small sips and, if possible, start with the five-drop method. Powerful, salty, metallic, carbonated: nothing is left out. With a bit of effort you can read under the peat some fruity and herbaceous notes, very green, reminiscent of Williams pear and liquorice root.
The finish is medium, with a strange alternation of mint chocolate and olive brine, but this does not last as long as the intense heat of the alcohol and peat.
Yes, it’s young, it’s brutal, very heavy metal. But I’d say that it has all the characteristics that a young peated should have, and it’s surprising to say the least to find such intensity and sharpness in such a young product and that it is sold at such a convenient price.
If you are a lover of peat, you can’t let it get away, but at that price, frankly, I don’t think anyone should let it get away… I don’t want to sound trite, but Kilkerran’s strategy is the right one, and not just because of the price. Here there is both love for whisky and true respect for the customer: experimental products, few bottles, right price. So the producer understands the customer’s tastes, and the customer understands the producer’s path.
For me it is definitely promoted with full marks.