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Kilkerran Work in Progress 7 Bourbon

Average score from 4 reviews and 5 ratings 90

Kilkerran Work in Progress 7 Bourbon

Product details

  • Brand: Kilkerran
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • Series: Work In Progress
  • ABV: 54.1%
  • Age: 11 year old
  • Vintage: 2004

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@Hewie
Kilkerran Work in Progress 7 Bourbon

I purchased this bottle almost a year ago. It was sitting on the shelf of a liquor chain shop right across the road from our nearest supermarket (which I tend to frequent even though they aren’t the cheapest in town). After some digging on the net I found it was reputably the best of the WIP’s, and I knew it was a one-off opportunity that I was certain I’d appreciate. The $120 NZ ($80USD, $107 CAD, 60GBP) which I paid for it is the most I’d spent on a single bottle, and so I tucked it away for a special occasion. Fast forward until a couple of weeks ago and I noticed they still had one lonely bottle of the WIP7 Bourbon Wood on the shelf. As we say, it’d be rude not to – so I bought it too. I felt quite chuffed that right here in my little city of 80 000 in NZ I was able to buy two of the 6000 bottles ever produced. I know there are plenty of limited run releases of various types, but this felt like owning a piece of history (yeah, I might be a bit of a Springbank fanboy). Anyway, as I now had two bottles I felt justified in opening one of them.

Nose: first up vanilla, coconut, and butterscotch. A good dose of chimney soot, some dried herbs (sage or old thyme?), digestive biscuits, crisp green apple lemon. The more I sniff it the more it makes me think of a pine forest floor, and there’s a note of real cream.

Palate: starts off sweet with honey and malty cereal sweetness, balanced against a combo of earthy, leaf mulch, and peat smoke notes. There is the lemon pith, together with brine, and a good sprinkle of white pepper. The funkiness appears as old leather, and it’s quite dirty in a good way – more savoury than sweet.

Finish: cold smoke, some heat, and the malt sweetness fades into bitter lemon and slightly astringent oak. There’s a big mineral note like I’ve been sucking on a stone picked up off the beach.

Although this came before the Kilkerran 12 I had a bottle of the 12 first so that is my reference point. This WIP7 is like the 12 on steroids! Bigger, bolder, more muscular and assertive. I actually went back to the 12 straight after I had finished this and the 12 was much more restrained, but lighter and brighter. I especially like how @RianC so beautifully summed it up “coal smeared lemons” or “like licking a lathe that's had lemons smeared on it”. The WIP7 seems to have a lot more going on, but maybe that’s just accentuated by its higher ABV. It took me quite a while to pull this one apart – different aspects become more or less apparent over the course of drinking the glass. I guess in terms of uniqueness, it has that special Springbank funk (almost reminiscent of a workshop) and definite mineral aspect. It is a fantastic bottle and I have no regrets splashing out on this one. I haven't tried the Kilkerran 8 CS yet but I sure hope they didn't peak too soon.

@Hewie, thank you for your excellently descriptive review. That is very polite of you to provide all of those currency conversions, too. Kilkerran is not a product line which we see where I live. I suppose it will take a bit more effort for me to turn some up. I look forward to tasting them all.

Great review @Hewie!

I have a 12 in the stash but your review has made me think the CS 8 is worth a look as well - Ralfy certainly raved about it and it's about £50.

@Pierre_W

After production at the new Glengyle distillery began in 2004, the company released a number of "work-in-progress" (WIP) bottlings, starting with the 1st release in 2009 and ending with the two 7th releases (Bourbon Wood and Sherry Wood) in 2015. This review looks at the bourbon cask-matured edition of WIP 7, distilled in 2004 and bottled in 2015 - I am not sure by the way whether this is ten or eleven years old. The WIP 7 Bourbon Wood was bottled at cask strength with a total output of 6,000 bottles.

The nose is intensely malty and a bit spicy to begin with. Next, there are notes of cereal and vanilla, together with cinnamon and orange flavours. Then the lemon flavours take centre stage, followed by hints of salt and cardboard.

The palate is full-bodied, malty, and just a bit zesty. There are plenty of lemon and vanilla flavours, followed by white pepper, vanilla, and again a touch of salt.

The finish is long and a little dry. The lemon flavours appear once more, together with a touch of grass.

I am very, very impressed with this whisky. In terms of its flavour profile I find it to be similar to the 12-year core range bottling, however the high ABV helps bring out the quality of the distillate so much better than the watered down version. It is very smooth to drink despite cask strength and is superbly balanced. If you are a fan of malty and somewhat austere whiskies (I like to call this "old school"), you will love this one. My favourite Kilkerran so far!

@Pierre_W , I don't think Kilkerran ever made any official claims about the age of any of the WIPs. It was sorta "common knowledge" that each one's age was its edition number + 4, due to WIP #1 being released 5 years after Kilkerran started distilling and each subsequent WIP coming annually thereafter. And that adds up, given that your WIP #7 here came out the year before the 12 debuted. But again, that's nothing official. The only ages I've seen imputed to the WIPs came from third parties, like retailers.

Kilkerran has the following wiggle room:

•The "common knowledge" year depends on the distillation anniversary having passed when they bottled each new edition. That's just a small technicality, but I think it's what you're referring to when you mull the difference between it being 10 and 11 years old. Plus, it's impossible that all the WIPs came from the very first run of spirit in March 2004, so that gets a little fuzzy: A WIP # 7 bottled in, say, mid-March 2015 could be 10 or 11 years old, depending on which run of 2004 distillate it's from†. And that's still assuming all the WIPs are from 2004 distillate, which takes me to my next point.

•Although we all trust the Springbank folks making this stuff to be honest & forthright, I don't think they've ever even claimed that all the WIPs were distilled in 2004. It's just an assumption we all have. I expect it was all distilled in 2004 given the concept of this WIP series, but it didn't have to be.

All that said, I imagine the WIP # was in fact 11 years old and they just did an endearingly poor job labeling it.

† Additional tidbit: As the story goes, the Springbank folks only distill at Kilkerran one month out of the year, so it's less likely that we're facing little tricks about distillate birthdays and a bottling maybe only being something like "10 years and 11.5 months old."

And thanks for noting the output! I don't think I'd ever put much attention on that, but now I see all the output numbers on the Kilkerran site. Funny how it varies from edition to edition. I wonder how they chose a size for each edition. And the distribution must have been uneven on top of that—the numbers they produced seem to have no bearing how available each one was, at least by me.

And #7 Bourbon CS was the smallest—I wouldn't have guessed that! It sure got the most attention on the online whisky web.

@markjedi1

The series Work In Progress is about to finish, is it not? I think it is about time the Glengyle distillery reveals a standard bottling. But in the meantime we will have to work with this WIP 7, that matured on bourbon casks and was bottled at cask strength. We are rid of the terrible pink label, only to be offered up this pale green monstrosity. Oh, well, I suppose the important thing is the Kilkerran that is inside.

Big mineral nose on clay, gravel, beach sand and breakfast cereals. Oatmeal. A bit of vanilla, mint and a single slice of lime. Well, this is special, but absolutely stunning.

Mouth coating, clean and waxy! On the palate I do get a lot of lime and white pepper, but the taste is like me licking it of a slate. There is a hint of exotic fruit – albeit quite discrete – lake papaya and agrums. The sweet peat rears its head midpalate, leading to a soft but nice smokiness.

Wonderfully long finish on greasy coals, vanilla and citrus fruit.

The first WIP at cask strength and it will be long remembered. What a whisky! Seems old school, but is simply stunning. Ridiculously good spirit.

Yep, the first AND LAST cask strength WIP.

And this was indeed the last of the whole run (the best too, by consensus). The 12 came out earlier this year.

@OlJas: Indeed, the 12 just hit the shelves in my neck of the wood. Have tried it last week (my notes are older) and it is bang for your buck.

@MaltActivist

If you read my stuff you know I have had this fascination with Campbeltown whiskies for the longest time. And, as I've said a million times, there is literally no rationale for that.

However, it's a good fascination to have I feel. Springbank keeps me quite suitably entertained thanks to Longrow and, of course, Springbank itself. Though, Hazelburn needs to try harder.

Glengyle, makers of Kilkerran, are the other reason why I'm still holding on to the Campbeltown fetish. I came across Kilkerran when they released WIP 4 and I remember introducing it to my whisky club here who had not yet heard of this distillery. The raised eyebrows and lip smacking that followed was testament to the spirit inside.

The WIP, or Work In Progress, is a good way of showing to the general consumer the journey of a whisky as it matures through the years until becoming standard. It is also a smart way of generating some much needed revenue as time goes by.

The very first Kilkerran was released as a five year old whisky under the WIP 1 label way back in 2009. Since then every year they have released a subsequently numbered release. Till WIP 4 there was only a bourbon maturation but WIP 5 onwards there has been a Sherry and Bourbon Oak split.

I think it's a nice way of seeing how the whisky is coming along and especially nice to compare it alongside the different maturations. Alas, this year is the last of the WIPs since 2016 will see the spirit reach 12 years of age and be considered the 'standard' bottling of this awesome distillery.

I have pretty much tried them all, except for WIP 1, and have been keenly noticing how the whisky has been evolving while at the same time establishing it's signature style.

However, the one that I was most interested in was this years' Bourbon Cask release because it was the first Cask Strength of the series. And if you know me you know that saying 'Cask Strength' in front of me is like saying 'Injured Atlantic Fur seal' in front of a Great White Shark. Me being the shark, of course.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at cask strength of 54.1%

Wet pebbles. Limestone. Sand. Crisp barley. Hint of warm milk. Vanilla. Mild herbs. Touch of cardboard. Drying for some reason even though there's no wine here. Almonds. Baby ginger. Quite like this nose. There's some quality wood and distillate at work here. 23/25

Citrus. Orange blossom. Cointreau. Cardamom. White peppers. Coffee. Vanilla. Chocolate. What perfect weight here. Get those wet pebbles again. Starts of savory and then takes on a nice sweetness. 24/25

Very long. Quite dry. Oak. Fresh grass. Coats your mouth with honey. Very pleasing sweetness. 24/25

This is a beautifully constructed whisky. I'm a sucker for good old fashioned whisky making. Good distillate cut right. Good quality wood. Optimum storage conditions. Everything just working towards making this one of the greats of the coming few years. Let's just hope they continue doing what they are doing and not one day plan on sending their whisky to space as a distraction.

Yes, you Ardbeg. You!

I need this.

Tried the WIP V Sherry wood, but wasn't so convinced, this sounds a lot better

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