GUEST TASTING NOTES: Kilkerran Heavily Peated Batch 4 58.6% (May 2021)


The following notes have kindly been uploaded by Jonathan Stephenson, @Jonnyraccoon1. You can follow Jonathan on Twitter, using the button at the bottom of this post.

Type of whisk(e)y – Whisky (scotch).

How long has the whisk[e]y bottle been open? – Under 1 month.

Introduction to the whisk[e]y (casks used, distillery, is it a special release etc) – Batch 4 of Glengyle’s Kilkerran Heavily Peated in Progress. Approx 5-6 years old, matured in a combination of 80% bourbon cask / 20% sherry cask.

Appearance – Sepia colour (same as Batch 3). Viscous in the glass. No cloudiness until water is added.

Nose – Compared to Batch 3 there’s a little more of an alcohol nip on the nose but it’s still not severe considering the proof. Initially, beneath the smoke, this is surprisingly fresh, bright, grassy, rich with sweet fruit. The smoke is hefty and peaty. There’s sweet salty bacon wafting in a warm kitchen, stewed apples, charred peach. Fizzy lemonade, a bit of cream soda. We’re still getting a lovely edge of sherry influence but it’s not dominant, and it complements the bourbon cask very nicely. There are some chopped red berries, a little hint of wine. This is a little woodier than Batch 3, as you might expect, with lovely whisps of oak smoke alongside the peat. Damp campfire and rainy woodland. Baked goods, sweet pastries. Earthen floors and a little rubber. After a bit of time in the glass a slight note of sweet liquorice begins to emerge.  Really, this is a nose to live in for a while. Reassuring and mouth watering.

Palate – Again, the alcohol is just a little punchier in this batch, with jalapeno spiciness on the tongue. Nice oily texture, as expected. Sweet smoked peat and savoury meats wash in first, with that roasted peach, white grape skin, stewed red berries, some salted plum. Salted caramel. Damp earth, leaf litter and campfire smoke. Sweet earthy notes of cocoa and honey, cut through with that lemony Kilkerran citrus note.

Add a bit of water and the nose softens and expands; smoked fruits, perhaps even an edge of soy sauce? In the taste, the abv dies away and makes room for notes of straw and farmyard, peach jam, warm berry compote and a welcome dry spiciness. Water really does bring out the fruitiness in this dram, with that satisfying smack of smokiness still framing everything. The finish becomes a little herbaceous, maybe a bit of fennel in there, along with the citrus. Lovely complexity, this takes water well.

Finish – Long, with bitter dried raspberries, spent ashes. Something umami trailing at the end, perhaps some black pepper? The empty glass has faint charred-berry sweetness and dark oak smoke.

Overall thoughts – Another winner of a dram from Kilkerran here folks. I realise this is coming from a confirmed Kilkerran fan but believe me this really is good stuff. Rich, full flavoured, with a lingering moreish finish.

If I were to look back to Batches 2 & 3, I would still have to name Batch 2 as my favourite of the ‘peat in progress’ so far. The higher proportion of sherry barrels in the mix just suited my personal preferences. That said, this latest batch is a fantastic whisky and keeps up the promising progression of Glengyle’s peated spirit.

If you have tried Batch 3 then you will have a good idea of what to expect here; this shares the same bourbon-forward profile. I’d say the differences between Batches 3 & 4 are slight but meaningful: 4 has a brighter, sweeter arrival, a woodier mid-palate, a touch more spice; the smoke has integrated that little bit more with the barrels and so is a little more rounded.

This is impressive stuff. Bring on Batch 5.

Many thanks to Johnathan, @Jonnyraccoon1 (Twitter) for submitting his tasting notes, as comprehensive and informative as usual.

Find Johnathan on Reddit here

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