Friday, February 16, 2024

Kilkerran Heavily Peated Batch No. 4 Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky

- $100
- 117.2 Proof
- Batch No. 4
- Campbeltown

I certainly have an affinity for just about anything coming out of Campbeltown (and based on their prices lately, I'm apparently not alone in this). A couple years ago one of the stores by me got in a bunch of bottles from the Kilkerran line, and I decided at that time to grab the Heavily Peated. 

It was something I had never tried, and it was a bit different from the usual Campbeltown stuff I've enjoyed, which tends to be a bit on the lighter side of peated.  I figured perhaps it might find some great middle ground between a Campbeltown and an Islay, or at worst a decent version of one or the other.

The nose was certainly smoky, but the peat did not dominant. Rather, it was more like a mezcal, providing that smokey flavor but without all the phenols. It even had a bit of an agave sweetness and a bright honeydew note to it.  The only thing that kept it from smelling just like a mezcal was the sweet butter and brown sugar notes that also came through. That said, this combination apparently worked, because I couldn't get my nose out of the glass.

This is a bottle that I sat on for a while, and as a result I almost had two different experiences with it. When I first opened it, it had those bright, citrus notes that I was getting off the nose. It absolutely had some honeydew or cantaloupe notes to it, which actually paired pretty well with the sweet smoky note.  But, it wasn't what I was expecting to get out of a heavily peated Campbeltown.  

It did have some darker cherry notes as well, which, along with the smoke, gave it a sort of barbecue sauce note.  But it was a citrusy or even a mango barbecue sauce. This was a bit odd and a bit out of place with the bright melon notes.

However, months, even years down the road, as I got toward the bottom of this bottle, the flavor really seemed to shift on me. It got away from those fruity notes almost entirely. By the end, I got none of those bright melon notes, but rather rich brown butter notes, with honey and brown sugar. There was a sweet graham cracker note, and all of this was tempered by the ever-present smoky notes, and even a little bit of black pepper spice.

Had I graded this bottle on the last half only, I would have given this an A, maybe even an A+.  It was that good.  I just wasn't sure what to make of it at first. It wasn't bad by any stretch. In fact it was quite good.  But, it was just . . . unexpected, I guess.  Either way, I will certainly be grabbing future releases.

Grade: B+ 

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