Kilkerran 12 year old and 16 year old Single Malts


Not something that has happened here too often on Causeway Whiskey is a revisitation of something previously reviewed. It's five years since I last reviewed Kilkerran 12 year old. The 12 year old being first released in 2016 it has been a firm favourite with me since it's launch and has been a constant in my cabinet since. Now we have the updated bottle to fit in with the rest of the range and I thought it would be fitting to see if it's maintaining it's high standards.

2020 brought a further sense of excitement around Kilkerran with the release of the 12 year old's bigger brother, the 16 year old. So today we will also look at the first release of this from 05/10/20 and the 2021 release from 15/09/2021. Of course being at least 4 years older means that the 16 is going to be automatically better right?

Well experience has shown that this isn't always the case. I'll give you a few details about the bottles and their make up and then we'll crack on with the notes.

The 12 year old we are looking at today is from the 25/06/21 run with a make up of 70% bourbon cask and 30% sherry cask. This is of course non chill filtered and natural colour and bottled at 46%. It cost around £42.

The first 16 year old is the first release from 05/10/2020 and is made up of 96% bourbon cask and 4% marsala cask. Again non chill filtered and natural colour, bottled at 46% and cost around £55.

The second 16 year old is the release from 15/09/21 and is made up from 75% bourbon and 25% sherry. As with the others in non chill filtered, natural colour and bottled at 46% abv. This cost £59.

All the bottles were purchased at Fairley's Wine Merchants.

Kilkerran 12 year old (25/06/21 21/116) 46% abv.

Nose: The first thing that greets you is cereal - loads and loads of sweet malt, hay, honeycomb, toffee apples, lime jelly, wet pebbles, fresh linen and a whiff of gentle peat smoke. Time brings vanilla cream and peanuts.

Palate: The mouthfeel does feel a little thin but still delivers plenty on the palate. Again like the nose this is very cereal driven - sweet but earthy. Honeyed malt, apple and pear, some pink grapefruit and lime zest. A little ginger spice plus a slightly metallic note, think pencil lead and copper. Then soot and salinity in the form of salted nuts and sea spray.

Finish: Medium length with an ashy citrus note and some dirty soot.

Score: 7 out of 10

Kilkerran 16 year old (05/10/21 20/121) 46% abv

Nose: This feels a little denser than the 12 - a lot of tropical fruit here, caramelised pineapple, dried mango, papaya, vanilla and caramel sauce. New leather, whipped cream and orange sorbet. Slightly dusty with salty minerality too. No real sense of smoke but a light oily dirtiness. Very engaging.

Palate: A lovely mouthfeel here, covers the palate well. Not as sweet as the nose suggests. There is a little honey sweetness but then we move to crisp green apples, lemon and lime segments and unripe peach. A pinch of black pepper and freshly grated ginger. Engine oil and chalky minerality.

Finish: A little shorter than I expected truth be told. Lingering ginger heat and tart citrus.

Score: 6 out of 10

Kilkerran 16 year old (15/09/21 21/134) 46% abv

Nose: Very creamy and malty. Also a light note of menthol. Plenty of vanilla and green apples. Citrus notes apparent too, more lemon and lime. Time does bring light peat and salty harbour ropes. Some melon too and brown sugar.

Palate: Sweeter than the 2020 release and more aligned to the nose. Sweet brown sugar sprinkled over granny smith apples. Lots of lemon zest and some lime cordial. Sea salt and soot before spice notes of black pepper, ginger and clove.

Finish: Again not massively long with citrus, soot and salt.

Score: 6 out of 10

Overall: All solid and good value for money with the 12 year old still my core Kilkerran of choice.

Sometimes revisiting drams is not always a great experience. It could be the product has changed or your own palate has moved on. Thankfully though the Kilkerran 12 year is a superb drop and excellent value for money. It has a vibrancy that unfortunately it's older siblings don't have. Still one to keep on the shelf as an essential.

As said previously we can often get hung up on age statements and fall for the marketing nonsense that older equals better. Bear in mind that in the late 1970's and 'old' whisky was 10 years old.

Both of the 16 year old releases are solid drams but just don't engage the senses the way the 12 year old does. In the case of the first release 16 year old the nose is stellar but the palate doesn't match up. Solid but not worth the extra over the 12 year old.

The 2021 16 year old release is a little better balanced across the nose and palate than the 2020 release but overall doesn't present enough character to elevate itself above it or indeed the 12 year old.

Overall though I'd be happy drinking and sharing any of these and for the money there is little to complain about.

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