Kilkerran is the name of the whisky that is produced at the Glengyle Distillery in Campbeltown, Scotland. Glengyle was originally founded back in 1872 and operated for about 50 years. Campbeltown was once one of the largest whisky producing regions in Scotland (and the world), but most of its distilleries fell on hard times early in the 20th century and were closed. The original Glengyle distillery was no exception, closing its doors in 1925.
For a very long time, there were only two working distilleries in Campbeltown—Springbank and Glen Scotia. Happily in 2000, the owners of Springbank purchased the original Glengyle distillery property and buildings, which had remained in tact and in relatively good condition, with the intention of rebuilding the distillery. New spirit began rolling off the stills at Glengyle in 2004.
So why is the name of the whisky Kilkerran instead of Glengyle? Well for one thing, there were copyright issues with the name Glengyle, as another whisky producer in Scotland was already using that name. Also, according to the distillery website, “Kilkerran is thought to be a suitable name for a new Campbeltown malt since it was unusual for the old Campbeltown distilleries to be called after a Glen, a custom more usually associated with the Speyside region.” The name Kilkerran is derived from the Gaelic “Ceann Loch Cille Chiarain” which is the name of the original settlement where Campbeltown now stands.
If you want to know more about Glengyle, an excellent history of the distillery can be found on the Kilkerran website. Additional information about the distillery is available on the Malt Madness website.
The first release of the new Kilkerran whisky was a three-year-old back in 2007. Starting in 2009, the distillery released a new Kilkerran “Work in Progress” every year, with each batch being one year older than the previous one, until Kilkerran released this 12 year as the new standard product in 2016.
Kilkerran single malt is lightly peated (around 12-15ppm). The 12 year is said to be batched from 70% bourbon casks and 30% sherry casks, although I could not find official confirmation of that from the distillery. Let’s see how it tastes.
Kilkerran 12 Review
Type: Single Malt Scotch
Nose: Bartlett pears and green apples. Lemon. Green tea. Freshly fallen autumn leaves. Cinnamon. Apple pie just out of the oven. White wine. A slight hint of peat without being smokey. Funk. Barley sugar. Caramel. Slightly earthy with a healthy dose of minerals. A freshly mowed lawn. Hemp. Slightly herbal.
Palate: Light fruits, including kiwi, green apple, and pear. Lemon candy. Orange marmalade. Sweet cream. Like the nose, a touch of peat without smoke. Sweet white wine. Minerals. Barley sugar. Sea shells. Grassy. Green tea with sugar. Cinnamon. Apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. Marzipan. Almond extract.
Finish: More light fruits—grapes and pears. Marzipan. Hints of peat. Short, unfortunately. The wonderful flavors of the palate disappear a little too quickly.
Overall: This is some tasty stuff. The nose reminds me of an autumn-scented candle, like what you might buy from Bath & Body Works (whose candles I happen to like and buy regularly). The palate is light and sweet, but complex. It’s really quite wonderful. On a whole, this is somewhat similar to Springbank 10, but better. I’m not sure that my tasting notes do this justice—it’s so much better as a whole than the individual notes imply. This is the type of whisky that can be loved by both novices and experts alike. If you are looking to introduce someone to scotch whisky, this would be a great place to start.
The one thing holding back this malt is the finish. Although the nose and palate are wonderful, the finish is fairly short and disappears quickly, keeping this from being great. Nonetheless, this one’s a keeper (especially for the price, which is very reasonable) and will occupy a regular spot on my shelf (as long as I kind find—it tends to sell out quickly).
Buy Again? Yep.
Questions about my scoring system? Refer to the Review Method & Scoring Scale page.
For more reviews, check out the Whisky Review Archive.
Also check out my guest appearance on The Malted Man Cave, where we reviewed this whisky while I was on vacation with my family (Keith, the host of The Malted Man Cave, is my cousin—be sure to checkout his YouTube channel).