This post was sitting in the drafts folder for a while and it’s about time I’ll finish it as it discuss a whisky which was the whisky of the year 2016 for me, the Kilkerran 12 Year Old and it will be best if I get it published before end of February 🙂
Before we go down to the tasting notes, let’s talk about titles and what a big difference adding or omitting a word means. I was reading the two-parts interview with Jim Murray on The Whisky Exchange Blog that followed the 2017 book release, and yes, just like so many of my friends I did roll my eyes at his attitude and antics but I also noticed that unlike previous years his infamous awards which previously I just couldn’t fathom now kinda made sense to me.
Now, don’t be too shocked from this revelation. I myself was shocked enough for all of us, but it’s really a simple matter of understanding that his awards doesn’t go to the BEST whisky of the year 2017 but to a whisky that he crown as “whisky of the year”. Do you notice the omission here? In case you didn’t noticed the bold and capital word before, the word BEST is missing out there.
So what is the best whisky of the year? Truthfully, I have no idea as it’s a very subjective choice and depends on what you tasted in the last year. I will offer a theory that for most of us it will usually be one of old-aged whiskies or perhaps a special single cask (a la those Kavalan solists that won MMA awards). If so, the play-field is narrower than what we think and any choice from those whiskies will likely be acceptable as a proper choice even if not exactly your choice. But when it comes to straight and simple “whisky of the year”, the rule set is broader and even more subjective as it doesn’t relay on taste only and involves other factors. So i tried to compile my own rule set for such a selection:
- It should be a good whisky – I mean, come on, we won’t select a bad or mediocre whisky (even if it’s over hyped) as whisky of the year, right?
- Accessibility – A single cask or low count of bottles, bottling for a specific market are striked-out. What’s the point of hailing a whisky that most of us won’t have a chance to taste it because we can’t lay our hands on it?
- Affordability – a brother clause to the previous one. Lagavulin 25yo 200th anniversary? 8000 bottles but it comes with an abhorring price tag. So it won’t be my selection
So I followed the rules above and eventually selected the whisky I review today as my whisky of the year – it’s affordable, accessible, it’s pretty good and isn’t riding a huge PR hype wave. It’s a whisky to drink and enjoy
Nose: Starts with gentle wafts of smoke and Campbeltown funk. There’s leather, tobacco leaves, engine fumes and oils, all accompanied by sweet red dried fruit. Farmy with grass, hey and green tomatoes. After it opens up a bit there is honey and the red fruits show up again.
Palate: Peat, smoke, fire embers, oily and thick, sweet red fruit, honey, farmy with a lot of grass and milk chocolate towards the end.
Finish: Oily and fat, honey and red fruit peels, lingering earthy peat and smoke and farmy greenery.
Thoughts: What a tasty whisky. By all means, Kilkerran 12 won’t blow your socks off, however it is a very good whisky with maturity beyond its years. It delivers a gentle Campbeltown character balanced with enough sherry impact to give us a great drinking whisky. It’s affordable and it’s accessible and can be purchased for a very decent price. A whisky of the year.