Kilkerran 8-Year Cask Strength 56.9%

Batch #5 First Fill Oloroso Casks

Roughly a year ago I was fortunate enough to purchase the entire annual lineup of Springbank and Glengyle releases. I had previously just purchased samples and regretted not seeking out a bottle of Kilkerran 8 for myself.

I fell in love with the 12-Year, Heavily Peated, and some of the Work in Progress bottles. It seemed that I consistently enjoyed Kilkerran over Springbank, Longrow, or Hazelburn. As I dug further into the history of both distilleries I became enchanted with their humble start and carefully crafted spirit.

This review encompasses the entire life of the bottle in the past year. I regularly tasted with a Glencairn but also a Laddie Dram glass. Over the course of the year I played with both dilution and rest, typically adding only 3-4 drops of water and taking about a half-hour rest by the end of my tastings.

Tasting Notes

The nose is full of deep, dank, and luxurious sherry aromas. Walnuts and salted cashews bring an earthy and fatty richness. Jammy compote and bread pudding. Dark cocoa and dried fruits – Figs, prunes, raisins, and even a touch of pineapple. Similar to a tropical trail mix blend. It’s not all desert, however. Toast with sweet cream butter. A hearty red wine reduction with fragrant herbs of sage and rosemary. Floral tea blend notes round out this enticing dram.

This is not the ‘sherry bomb’ I expected. Your palate is flooded by the Oloroso but it’s the oak that tames it. Old, decaying, funky sherry oak staves. Decadent dark fruits – sugared dates, plums, and fig cookies. Burnt ends, braised in red wine. Antique leather smoking pouch and stale tobacco. While the cask influence at times overwhelms the malt, there is a pleasant aromatic grass and hay flavor similar to a barleywine. Charcoal and barrel char. Medicinal throat lozenge, nocino, and cola-like flavors. Lastly, a tart berry note like dried craisins peeks out at times.

Sharp alcohols hit you on the finish and mellow quickly while lingering forever. Dry cocoa powder-covered truffles, wafers, and cardamom biscuits. With the overly desert forward finish is a pleasant salinity that is very much welcome. Roasted chestnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans. Wheat and rice cereal pieces. Cinnamon bark boiling away, infusing a simple syrup. Finally, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the unpleasant chalky texture of the finish. A sour note to an otherwise enjoyable dram.


Kilkerran has not disappointed me yet but this bottle isn’t without its flaws. The malt is a bit overpowered by the cask and at times it’s difficult to distinguish the spirit. Rest helps alleviate some of the harsher alcohols even after a year of the bottle being open. Water elevated aromas but did little to change my experience on the palate or finish. Maybe a touch more tobacco and barrel char but otherwise unchanged.

Putting my bias aside for both Kilkerran and Oloroso casks, I still feel as if this expression is worthy of purchase. The import price is rather expensive but I don’t regret purchasing a backup bottle of this one even if it was a higher-than-average price. With the fervor for all things Campbeltown these days, I think Kilkerran’s expressions are worth seeking out.