Paula’s Feis Ile 2010 odyssey – part 1

Sorry there are no photos. There seems to be a minor glitch in our comms. We’re trying to fix it and will post pretty pictures as soon as. Over to Paula.


It’s Thursday,20th May 2010. I left Edinburgh at 6:15am to keep an appointment at Springbank distillery’s open day in Campbeltown. This is new territory for me as I know little about this particular region. Despite the best  efforts of my lousy satnav and a particularly slow lorry, I arrived in Campbeltown in good time for my first masterclass at 11:30am. This was a tour of the recently re-opened Glen Gyle distillery, accompanied by 5 healthy samples of ‘Kilkerran’ from the first casks distilled in 2004. Thank goodness for my sample bottles -I had to drive later that day!

Our guide was Frank McHardy, distillery manager for Springbank and resurrector of Glen Gyle distillery. Mitchell & Co. bought the Glen Gyle premises back in 2000 and it took 4 years for the distillery to be brought back online, using the Ben Wyvis stills from Invergordon distillery. The actual whisky is sold under the name ‘Kilkerran’ because the Glen Gyle name is owned by Glen Scotia distillery and Kilkerran was the old name for Campbeltown…I love simplicity – don’t you?


1st tasting (In the millroom): Kilkerran ‘Work in Progress’, Bourbon butt and Rum cask finish. Distilled: 2004. Bottled: not yet! Approx. 58%abv

Nose: Sweet porridge and spices. With water, a floral perfume like Cameo soap?

Palate: Definitely still young, quite gristy but sweet, vanilla, some cereal and more exotic spice. An oily character develops with water.

Finish:Light woody notes creep in after the sweetness fades.


2nd tasting (Mash room): Kilkerran ‘Work in Progress’, Bourbon cask matured. Distilled: 2004. Bottled: not yet. Approx. 58% abv (still to be confirmed, prior to bottling).

Nose: Fizzy on the nose, like Love Hearts sweets or Refreshers-fruity and sweet.

Palate: A burst of sweet grains and vanilla – a spicy prickle of alcohol on the tongue. With water, still spicy. Vanilla pods.

Finish: A little woody, a little dry – not that memorable, I’m afraid.


3rd tasting (Tun room): Kilkerran ‘Work in Progress’, Port pipe finish. Distilled: 2004. Bottled: not yet. Approx. 58% abv.

Colour: A rich mahogany red.

Nose: Black plums and buttery toffee. Creamy with water.

Palate: Dark fruits, dried cranberries.With water, currants and hazelnuts. Lots of roasted hazelnuts!

Finish: Mmmm. Nutty.


4th tasting (Still room): Kilkerran ‘Work in Progress’, Oloroso sherry. Distilled: 2004. Bottled: soon, I hope. Approx. 56% abv.

Nose :D ark chocolate covered cherry marzipan!

Palate: Really rich black chocolate fades quickly to juicy raisins and intense spice. I didn’t bother adding water – this was too good to tamper with. Yum!

Finish: Nutty spice and a drying finish.


I am going to look out for this coming on to the market! It may just be the effect of  4 cask strength whiskies but I found this one to be exotic and quite sensual…


5th tasting (Warehouse): Kilkerran, Madeira puncheon 1st filled in 2004. Fresh from the cask! Abv – who knows?

Colour: Very cloudy like apple juice and honey.

Nose: Dried flowers, pot pourri, sweet spices and a little musty – imagine walking into an old fashioned tea shop with crocheted doilies everywhere…

Palate: Dusty spices and more dried flowers. Old books. Intriguing.

Finish: A little bitter, warming and spiced honeyish.


Wow. That was not a bad way to start a whisky fest. Interesting whiskies and a chance to see how different casks affect the same spirit – all were distilled in 2004, all not yet bottled and all at roughly the same strength. Thank you, Mr. McHardy!

Next it was a tour of Springbank distillery and five of their malts! The tour was taken by Pete who proved very passionate about the subject of Springbank’s role in the local area, the importance of local ingredients, local staff and Campbeltown in general.

Established in 1828, Springbank distillery now produces three different malts; the heavily peated Longrow, the medium peated Springbank and the unpeated, triple distilled Hazelburn.


Tasting 1: 11yrs, Local Barley Springbank. Refill Sherry butt. Distilled: 1999. Bottled: 2010. 58% abv

Colour: Yellow gold.

Nose: Vanilla ice cream float. Nutmeg. Custard.

Palate: Rich, full flavoured custard cream biscuits, thick custard and spicy. Oily texture.

Finish: Creamy oiliness and long. Mouth coating.


Tasting 2: 14yrs, Single Cask Longrow. Sherry butt (most unusual, apparently).

Nose: Smells like strawberry flavoured Angel Delight! Children’s sweets and vanilla with sweet wood smoke running through it all.

Palate:Very sweet and oily in the mouth. Warm milk, whipped nougat and milk chocolate flavours develop, wrapped in smoke.

Finish: A little saltiness appears with sweet oils.


A bit of news – Springbank 10yr 100 proof is soon to be replaced by 12yr Cask Strength. Actually, the whiskies in this are closer to 14yrs old -that was tasting no.3. Overall impression is of warm butterscotch.

Tasting 4 was of Springbank 18yr and can be likened to Old Pulteney 17 – but with more intense fruit – definitely a dessert whisky, I believe.

The 5th tasting was Hazelburn CV at 48% abv. Very light, sherbet style of whisky with echoes of lemon drizzle cake and the final tasting (bonus!) was Hazelburn 10yr, Sauternes finish. Due to be bottled next January, this has passionfruit, caramel and icing sugar on the nose with hot honey, clove and cinnamon on the palate, finishing with a creaminess and a dash of salt. Tasty…

I hadn’t been able to book onto the Cadenhead’s tasting  but it didn’t matter. I’d run into a familiar face and we went to Cadenhead’s anyway and had our own sort of tasting. The highlight of that was the 32yr Banff which I can only describe as perfumed perfection.

That is more than enough for one day – and I haven’t even started the Islay Festival yet!


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