We've been getting a lot of questions concerning the new Faultline whiskies, which is great! I'm glad everyone is excited about these because we certainly are too! Which one is the best? Which whisky represents the hottest deal? That's what people want to know and I'm always happy to throw in my two cents. Normally I've got a favorite whisky, a cask that represents tremendous quality to me when we buy a batch from a producer. However, in this case I really don't have one. When we bottle something under the Faultline label we're representing K&L as a store and we're catering to a much larger group of drinkers. Therefore, anything that says Faultline on it should be accessible and easy-to-appreciate on a general level. It should also be a good value. Those are two very important criteria to take into consideration when deciding to purchase a bottle of Faultline. Rarely is the "best" or the "most interesting" whisky from our yearly trip the best value, or the most user-friendly.
With the exception of the Bowmore whiskies (which are truly outstanding at any price), neither the Royal Lochnagar, the Bunnahabhain, the Mortlach, the Miltonduff, the Longmorn, the Cragganmore, nor the 1979 blend represent the best casks we found in Scotland this year. The best casks in my mind are the 1989 Jura, the 1997 Laphroaig, and the 1994 Benriach. That's just based on my own personal taste and speaking from a purely qualitative standpoint - price not included. However, when someone offers you a delicious and charming Bunnahabhain 21 year old that you can retail at $79.99 you just can't say "no." It's kind of like when the distributor lets me offer Glenmorangie 18 for $82.99 or Isle of Jura 16 for $49.99. These aren't the first whiskies I would recommend at full price, but when the cost drops dramatically I've got a completely different take. GlenMo 18 at $82.99 is much different than GlenMo 18 at $129.99. That's kind of what happened with all these Faultline casks.
For example, if the Miltonduff 30 year old would have been $200 a bottle we definitely would have passed. But it wasn't $200. It was $60 cheaper. For $140, sign me up because that's a hot deal. That's kind of the story with these Faultline barrels. Not only are they really good values, but they all have drinkable flavor profiles. The Royal Lochnagar is light and grainy, almost Irish whiskey-like. The Bunnahabhain is rich and soft with just the slightest hint of smoke. The Mortlach, Cragganmore, and Longmorn whiskies are all classic examples of the Highland style. The 1979 blend tastes like good 30 year old blended Scotch. They're all fun. They're all tasty. They're all worth getting. But there's not one that outshines the other. There's no superstar, no destined-to-go-down-in-K&L-history type of whisky here.
With that in mind, if you're having trouble picking out a bottle I would say to you, "Just pick one that catches your eye, either because you've never had a whisky from that distillery, or because you think it sounds interesting." You're not going to end up with a bad bottle, that's for sure. And you're certainly not paying too much for what you're getting.