Whisky Advocate

Whisky Advocate Award: Lowlands/Campbeltown Single Malt of the Year

December 21st, 2013

Kilkerran Work in Progress 5 Sherry Wood, 46%, $60

Glengyle is Campbeltown’s newest distillery, in the sense that it first produced spirit during 2004, though the original Glengyle operated between 1872 and 1925; a period when Campbeltown was still a major player in the Scotch whisky world. Glengyle Kilkerran WIP5 Sherrywas revived by Springbank owner Hedley Wright, and features a pair of modified stills formerly used by the Ben Wyvis malt distillery at Invergordon. Glengyle is operated by Springbank staff, using malt made in the floor maltings there, and quantities of spirit distilled vary significantly from year to year. The distillery is also the focus for experimentation, with peated malt having been used at times; quadruple distillation has also been performed.

Glengyle is working toward the release of its first permanent expression in 2016, a 12 year old, and to that end now has its own dedicated team tasked with raising the awareness of the output of Glengyle distillery, which is named Kilkerran single malt because the ‘Glengyle’ title had already been registered.

In the meantime, annual batches of Kilkerran Work in Progress have been released since 2009, allowing consumers to gauge the progress of the whisky as it gains maturity. Next year, six different expressions of 10 year old—all from the first batch of spirit distilled and all matured in varying woods—will be marketed, but for 2013 we have a bourbon cask-aged variant and a sherry cask-aged expression. Just 9,000 bottles of each are available worldwide.

Of the pair, the Sherry Wood version in particular demonstrates that this is a single malt whose time has come. It is a “work in progress” in name only, being a confident, complex, integrated and individualistic whisky fit to stand alongside its Springbank, Longrow, and Hazelburn siblings. Who knows just how good it might get by the time it achieves mainstream release as a 12 year old? —Gavin Smith

Come back Sunday for our Lifetime Achievement Award.

13 Responses to “Whisky Advocate Award: Lowlands/Campbeltown Single Malt of the Year”

  1. Tadas A says:

    Glad to see juice from new distilleries from neglected Lowlands!

  2. Gavin says:

    Hi Tadas, thanks for that. Yes, it’s great to be able to acknowledge the work of a relatively new distillery that is making really good whisky.

  3. keith sexton says:

    I can’t tell you how pleased I am with this whisky. I’ve tried a couple different ones now, and they are all stellar. I’m a big, big fan!

  4. Danny Maguire says:

    Problem being Campbeltown is not in the lowlands, it’s a region in its own right. Haven’t tried any Kilkerran for a while but the last time I did I enjoyed it.

    • John Hansell says:

      Danny, we combined these two regions because there are so few distilleries in each.

      • Danny Maguire says:

        I’ll have to see what I can do about that. Anybody got a few million they could give me?

      • Dustin says:

        Ironically, the reason Glengyle was revived and Kilkerran created was to help ward off the ending of the Campbeltown designation and the combining of all Campbeltown and Lowland distilleries into a single ‘lowlands’ region…

  5. Gavin says:

    Danny, if you get the money and need a consultant, you know where to contact me!

  6. Gavin says:

    Thanks Danny, I might hold you to that! Of course, there is a new Lowland distillery due to open at Kingsbarns in Fife during 2014 and plans for another at Glenrothes, also in Fife, so the region is going to be better represented in the future,

  7. Gavin says:

    Yes, good point – forgot about Annandale. Last time I spoke to the people who are recreating it things were going well and they were hopeful of distilling by the summer.

  8. I bought a bottle of Kilkerran Work in Progress 2 and felt somewhat indifferent about it. Then, while attending Springbank’s whisky school in the spring of 2012 I tasted a sample from one of those six Kilkerran casks that will be bottled as 10 year olds. It was the Port cask, which was just over 8 years old at the time and at 58.$% abv. Absolutely stunning, the best of the seven casks we sampled from that day.

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