When I posted on the Laphroaig and Cambus casks a few days back, I didn't make a big deal out of the whiskies. The Laphroaig cask is a stunner, it will sell itself, and that will be that. The Cambus is an odd duck, but it's an accessible one and ultimately the word will get out and there will be plenty for everyone. It was a gigantic sherry butt of grain whisky, so I'm not worried anyone will miss out. Today, however, we've got the two underdogs that you might want to take a risk on.
It seems odd to call Glenlivet an "underdog," but at K&L it's not a name our customers get excited about. For the discerning single malt drinker Glenlivet is something you start out with as a beginner, but then quickly graduate from. It's a relatively inexpensive brand that's made in fairly large quantities, so it doesn't necessarily fit in with our smaller, more limited edition style of whisky releases. This first-fill sherry barrel, however, is something we've been sitting on for a long time. We actually picked this cask out during our 2012 trip, but never got it bottled as part of that year's crop. Des, the warehouse manager at Signatory, was kind enough to put a "taken" sign on the cask, however (since Des looks and talks like Liam Neeson, we're always trying to get him to say "this cask has been taken" after we choose one, to which David and I start laughing uncontrollably, while Des wonders what's wrong with us).
This year, however, we made sure to bring it in and we actually decided not to bottle it at cask strength. We knew the idea of a heavily-sherried Glenlivet would appeal to a lot of budding whisky drinkers or casual fans, so we didn't want to blow their mouths off with high alcohol single malt. We wanted something interesting, yet easy to handle and we definitely got that. This 16 year old Glenlivet drinks like a 16 year old Glendronach: it's rich with loads of toffee and nuttiness, soft and supple, with a long rancio sherry finish. I think it might end up being the most popular whisky we sell this year (and with 700 bottles we should reach a large number of different customers). I'm excited for everyone to try it.
This is the sleeper cask from Signatory this year, much like the Fettercairn from the Exclusive Malts. It's an 18 year old single Bourbon cask of Speyside whisky. Not hogshead, mind you, but Bourbon cask -- smaller barrel with more richness within its wood. It's really done a number on the Miltonduff. You get richness without sweetness, ripe fruit, but with spice instead of suppleness. It's never hot, or herbaceous, however, the way a second-fill hogshead cask-aged whisky can be, with little inflection of wood upon the spirit itself. There's no question that the Miltonduff spent 18 years in first fill Bourbon. It's lovely stuff and, in the new world of 18 year old whiskies, this is far, far, far less that what you'll pay for Talisker, Glendronach, Springbank, or Macallan. Again, it's a total sleeper. Those who pull the trigger will be shocked because, well.....it's Miltonduff.