You see it in every industry – demons and darlings – those that can do no right and those that can seemingly do no wrong. In Scotch terms you don’t have to look far for examples of either – and anything produced by J&A Mitchell (which includes Springbank and Glengyle) most firmly falls into the latter category. There’s good reasons why their expressions are well-regarded and sought after – but their fans are some of the most ardent, and it seems some of the most zealous. Case in point, Phil (@Causewaywhiskey) taking flack for having the audacity to dislike one of their expressions in a blind tasting for Malt earlier this week.
It’s almost a year since we last took a look at Glengyle and its Kilkerran single malt – there’s a simple reason for this – there has not been any new official bottlings (outside of festival editions) since the release of the 8 year old Cask Strength edition in 2017. Following on from yesterday’s Kilchoman Sanaig review, we thought we’d stick to the theme of mineralistic whiskies and dig into our liquid archive for a look at an older (relatively) Kilkerran bottling. What we found in the Work in Progress 7 Bourbon Wood is a whisky so crystalline that it almost feels like it was excavated from a mine.
You'll still struggle to find a bottle of Kilkerran 12 year old at its recommended retail price, such has been its success. As a first official bottling from a new distillery I can think of few better - though many of you will have been following the Work In Progress (WIP) from Glengyle in the years before. Hot on the tails of the much lauded 12 year old comes the 8 year old Cask Strength - trading a few years of maturity for a bump in ABV up to 56.2%.
Regardless of where you are on your whisky journey, you’ll no doubt have stumbled across the curse that is ‘complexity’. Complexity in alcohol is both desirable and actively sought out – but as a concept, it’s also something which is oft-times either poorly defined or rarely agreed upon. The Internet doesn’t help things - a drink will often be described as complex simply because its tasting note has become too long. The use of near endless descriptors (and in some cases the overzealous use of online thesauruses) seems to demand that a drink with such a wide rubric must, ergo, be complex. But, by equating complexity with ‘more things to taste’, we’re missing out on a whole host of markers for quality and simply focussing on volume alone.
Whatever your level of involvement in whisky enthusiasm - no matter how fanatical your hobby and passion has become – it’s vital that you’re mindful that your enjoyment, accumulation and behaviours remain healthy. It’s all too easy to find yourself down various rabbit holes – delivery vans arriving twice daily, countless hours spent scouring the Internet for a "must have" bottle, or even falling into the trap of fury of missing out when failing to obtain this month’s latest and greatest limited release. But whilst many of us, myself included, will openly admit to a degree of obsessivity about whisky – you need to be continually aware of what you’re doing – and what you’re tacitly encouraging through your actions – both to the wider enthusiast base, but perhaps more significantly potentially to yourself.
Glengyle distillery has had a potted history and, was closed for 75 years until 2000. During the closure, the site had been used as the Campbeltown Miniature Rifle Club and as a sales depot for an agricultural company. Following purchase by J&A Mitchell (owners of Springbank) distilliation is once again back on the menu, and spirits have been flowing through the Glengyle stills since 2004.