When I saw Serge V's review of this little beastie, I went out and snagged a bottle. Still have some left. Boy, was I disappointed upon first opening the bottle.
But after some time went by (as in the better part of a year), things looked up for the bedraggled bottle lurking in the back of my liquor cabinet.
Upon first opening the bottle:
Nose: The kind of wet mossy reek that signals an immature spirit that is harboring a malignant form of alcohol so as to affright the sense of taste later on. This followed by sweaty tube socks, wet pumice, old apple juice, cranberry sauce, festering tubers in a root cellar, and a slight Springbank 10 year constitution, but younger and less polished.
Mouth: Lime (not the fruit, the powder used to bury the dead), cheap tequila, lime rinds (the fruit), flat Chivas, witch hazel, a nice oaky trajectory that blends into a rather surprising finish that evokes old leather and dusty libraries (two things I love actually, especially together, as in old couches and old books).
After nine months of sitting in a half empty bottle:
Nose: What happened to the filth? What happened to the sweaty tube socks? All gone. The spirit is quite nice now. Reminding one of a quaint old highland scotch from the 80's, nutmeg, ginger, old leather coming through, old Time magazines from thirty years earlier, pencil lead, musty clothes, caramel on melted vanilla ice cream.
Mouth: Oh boy I'm really liking it now. Great mellow attack that filters through one's mouth with a delightful oily feel that is in no way dehydrating. Leather, cinnamon, antique walnut furniture (the wood smell), old furniture polish, fried calamari, clotted cream, a touch of sea air and wet sea sand with a touch of sea weed even!
Finish: More of the same in a way that lingers in a very pleasant fade.
"The High": This is the best part. This whisky really delivers a happy, mellowing, friendly buzz that makes one's outlook feel fuzzy and optimistic. This differs significantly from most modern overly sweet Speyside whiskies that I find to be a "downer buzz" that starts with a peaked spike not unlike bad acidic coffee and then goes downhill from there.
This Kilkerran is a late bloomer. Open it, drink only what you must to get some air in the bottle, forget about it, then rediscover its waylaid charms. And, no, giving it a lot of time in the glass when it is young does not work. I tried that. Over and over again. No dice. As for hyperoxygenating it in a smaller bottle with lots of air, I tried that too. No dice on that either. None of the old tricks work on this one. It just needs time to acquire the air of an older spirit, which is why it just works as a whisky.
Yes, it's safe to say this is "retro" de-evolution in a favorable backwards direction. Duty now for the past? Devo, eat your heart out.