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A Pair of Alchemists

Ever since the great Alchemist summer deal of 2011 we haven't seen much in terms of value from this once-great independent bottler.  Today, however, I tasted a few new arrivals at the distributor's office and these two jumped out at me.  While they're not offered at the closeout price that I was "pimping" last year, both represent outstanding value for the money.  We have a few bottles of each in stock at the moment for those looking to branch out a bit.

Mortlach 22 Year Old Alchemist Single Malt Whisky $129.99 - We never see enough Mortlach stateside, and the few bottles we do get aren't always great. One of the great sherried stalwarts of the Speyside, this 22 year old from the Alchemist bottlers is completely without sherry aging. Lean in mouthfeel, the entry starts off rather oily and herbal, but the vanilla richness really kicks in on the finish. Straw colored despite its age, this Mortlach has obviously been aging in refill hogshead quite gracefully. A wonderful peek at what the whisky itself tastes like without all the sherry.

Highland Park 19 Year Old Alchemist Single Malt Whisky $115.99 - While the Alchemist label does not specify, this 19 year old independently-bottled Highland Park seems to have been aged in a refill sherry barrel. Light amber in color, the entry is slightly rich with cakebread and fruit, before leading into some mellow phenolic notes. The smoke is just a whisper before the toffee comes hard on the finish, ending with a rich and warming flurry of flavor. This is one of the better indie HPs I've seen in some time, especially for the price.

-David Driscoll