So you want to know all our secrets, eh? Where do we get the whisky from and how do we get our own labels? To help you all understand exactly what we do, I've embedded the above video that should explain most of the process. The real magic happens on the boat coming across the Atlantic, where we hire Jack Lemmon, Henry Fonda, and William Powell to concoct a secret formula.
It's really quite amazing. Check it out.
While many of you wonderful customers have been waiting months to get your pre-orders fulfilled (and we have finally worked through each one of them), some of you other fine folks have been chomping at the bit to see if there were going to be any extras. Good news! We still have something left after the initial onslaught. And, by the way, how beautiful are these labels? We're already delivering value for the money, but you get style on top of all that! That's what K&L's Faultline label is all about: fashion and fun. Or maybe that was the Jem cartoon from the late 80s? I've added updated notes since tasting them again today at the end of each description (also we have product in-between stores at the moment, so what you see in inventory doesn't reflect everything that's available).
1991 Bunnahabhain 21 Year Old Faultline Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $99.99 - This is just stupid. It just shouldn't be this inexpensive. This cask is richer and more expressive than the 22 year old we sold last year. It's got tons of the Bunnahabhain appley character, with subtle saline to balance the expressiveness and power of the fruit. Much richer texturally than the ultra light weight cask from last year. So why the hell aren't we selling it for more? Well, that's what Faultline is all about. When you buy this we guarantee that this is absolute best value we can get you on single malt. Believe it, because you won't believe when it's all gone. UPDATED NOTES: I just retasted this any it's everything you hope it will be: soft, haunting, graceful, and classically Bunnahabhain. A superb value.
1992 Longmorn 21 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $115.99 - Oh Longmorn, you elusive lovely creature. Last year, we bottled a Longmorn from a fresh sherry butt that was arguably our most positively received whisky of 2012. All the whisky geeks went mad and snatched up every bottle moments after it arrived. This year we return with another Longmorn of a similar price and aged, but this time it's coming from a second fill butt. It's not the sweet up-front style of last year's, but instead a powerful whisky filled with fresh vanilla, dark dense fruit, and aromas of toffee and spice. This is a fabulously complex whisky with a roundness that's undeniably pleasurable. Again don't expect a redux of last year's cask, but a special whisky that stands tall on it's own merit. All lovers of this splendid Speyside distillery, located just south of Elgin, should buy now before the price goes up. A very welcome addition to the Faultline family. UPDATED NOTES: There's a lot of wood on this guy, more than I remember. But that's not a bad thing. The oak definitely dominates, but the fruit and oil are there after the initial onslaught. Good stuff.
1987 Mortlach 25 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $139.99 - Here is a fun whisky from the fabulous and sought-after distillery in Dufftown. We've already had great success this year with Mortlach from various bottlers, but this cask was just too good a value to pass up. What we have here is a total turnaround from the sherry monster that we bottled via Chieftain's this year. Coming from a refill bourbon barrel, the savory quality of Mortlach is not framed by the sweet dried fruit of the sherry cask. Instead, the subtle influence of the bourbon barrels works to highlight the distilleries distinctive qualities. Just an all together stupendous value, if somewhat geared for the more expert drinker. The high proof will be a definite surprise for those not expecting it. I believe that many who liked our first Faultline - a Littlemill 21 yo - will enjoy this cask for its unflappable uniqueness and rich complexity. UPDATED NOTES: This one is far better than I remember it being. It has more fruit, a softer and more supple mouthfeel, and lots of finesse. Getting to play around with it has really helped, as I've found the right amount of water to really balance it all out.
1982 Miltonduff 30 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $159.99 - This baby will be the oldest single malt whisky we've ever bottled under the Faultline label. Miltonduff is certainly rare on the market right now, although we find casks regularly, the quality is highly irregular. This cask was just transcendent in my opinion. Aged for 30 years in a bourbon barrel, we really get to the essence of Miltonduff. Exhibiting exotic wood notes and powerfully aromatic qualities of incense, gentian, and spice on the nose give way to intense vibrancy and life on the palate. While this whisky is mature, it certainly shows no sign of slowing down, layering on the aromatic elements as the whisky finishes. Sandalwood, cardamom, bay leaf, and subtle honeyed sweetness soften the powerful masculine quality of this special whisky. UPDATED NOTES: I hate to add anything to the idea that older is better, but in this case, the oldest whisky we did under this Faultline group is also the best. This is just silly. Lovely balance of flavor and wonderful depth. The finish brings everything - toasted nuts, caramel, and wood. Bravo!
1989 Cragganmore 23 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $109.99 - Finally, the return of Cragganmore to the Faultline line up. One of our first bottlings was a fabulous 20 year old Craggy, from a hogshead. That was three years ago and we haven't seen another Cragganmore from any of our suppliers since, so when this one popped up as a potential Faultline candidate we jumped on it. We were surprised again by both the quality and the incredible price! Cragganmore is distilled from very lightly peated barley. Over the course of 23+ years in a refill sherry butt, that subtle smokiness has morphed into what can only be described as quintessentially Speyside. Imagine a highland shrub recently in bloom after months of dormancy during the long cold winter. Imagine the honey bee attracted to the tiny purple flowers, returns to her hive, which is situated precariously on the outstretched limb of knobby oak tree. The honey slowly drips out of the dense honeycomb on to the damp reeds below. This tiny florally flecked speck of honey trapped on a blade of grass flutters in the breeze to land on a damp stone on the banks of the river Spey. Droplets from the idly lapping river loosen the blade from its sticky perch on the wet stone, eventually releasing it into the meandering river as it twists toward the north sea. Now imagine yourself with a bottle of Cragganmore. You have a very good imagination...UPDATED NOTES: There's a lot more sherry action on this baby than I initially remember, but that's a good thing. It's richer, denser, and more supple than my notes indicated. These are all very good things!
1996 Bowmore 16 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $105.99 - This year we were lucky enough to secure two different Bowmore Casks for the Faultline selection. As I've stated previously, Bowmore is absolutely one of the finest distilleries in Scotland and finding casks like this at reasonable prices is just not normal. This lovely whisky comes from a refill sherry butt. This is a lovely contrast to our other Bowmore, showing much softer aromas of candied fruit, densely wafting smoke, but with a subtleness that is not seen on the Hogshead cask from 1997. This barrel perhaps captures the current distillery profile more precisely because of the sherry influence (limited as it may be) and will make any Bowmore lover happy. It may also provides an opening for none Islay drinkers to appreciate a smoky whisky that is fully integrated and approachable without to much of the medicinal side. Similar casks are currently selling in Europe for upwards of $150, so don't expect this to be around forever. UPDATED NOTES: Diehard sherry fans rejoice. The first thing you get is almost a red-wine sherry note, before the richness kicks in an the peat comes through. This isn't sweet, fudgy sherry, however. It's more rancio and nutty, like an amontillado. Lovely!
Oh, right. And then there's these guys!
1992 Ardbeg 21 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $349.99 - We've teased the idea of three ultra-mature Islay casks since this past March, but we were never able to give any specifics. "Three ancient casks, reminiscent of what we used to see all the time back in 2007, from the same warehouse as our fantastic Port Ellen cask a few years back." People were curious. If you ever hear anyone say, "There's no more old whisky in Scotland," they're not completely off-base. At this point, it's no longer about who will pay the most or who's got the most coin--it's only about access. Do you have the connections, the relationships, and do people actually want to do business with you? Luckily for us the past few years of hard work, loyalty, respect, and friendship have opened more doors for us. Three doors, actually. And what's behind door number one? An ultra-rare, highly-coveted cask of rockstar Islay whisky: a 21 year old Ardbeg with all the smoke, salt, peat, and spice the distillery is renowned for. More than two decades in wood however have tempered this beast down to a very reasonable 49.6 percent, allowing one to sip easily without the addition of water. The wood has mellowed the intensity a bit, but it has also concentrated it. There are only 150 bottles available from this ancient cask and they won't last long. Independent Ardbeg bottles have become unicorns here in the spirits world. Luckily we're able to bag one every now and again to keep the magic alive. While they last. UPDATED NOTES: Only about 30 extras of this guy. This whisky really delivers, which is great because it had better for the price. It's more than just a collectable. It's full of white pepper, salt, smoke, and magic, but it's not a big, in-your-face style. It's just damn good.
1993 Laphroaig 20 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $179.99 - A magical cask of 20 year old Laphroaig at 44.5% cask strength. This is quite a fun whisky, mainly because of the balance between the more-mellow mouthfeel and the concentration of peat and smoke. We've become big fans of older Laphroaig here at K&L simply because the slowly-matured wood influence works so well with the bright, fresh, and lively peat flavors inherent in the malt. This cask ranks alongside the best we've found from other bottlers and the price is quite reasonable as well. Only 139 bottles were available from this reduced barrel. They will reward those who manage to get one. UPDATED NOTES: Again, very little remains from this cask. This really is as advertised. It's not a big, bold, in your face Laphroaig. It's quite gentle, while remaining fresh, vibrant, and true to character. I like it very much.
1980 Caol Ila 32 Year Old Sovereign K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $269.99 - The sister cask to our former K&L exclusive, a 1980 Caol Ila now two years older than when we last visited her. While our former cask was rather light on its feet, its older sister comes in at a whopping 57.1% and brings all the earthy peat you can handle. It's also classically Caol Ila with a rounder, fruiter palate from those famous, fat-necked pot stills. The price is in line as well with that offering. Our 30 year old cask sold for $199.99, so considering inflation, the increasingly-insane demand for whisky, and the extra few years, we think it's pretty reasonable. If 150 people agree with us we'll be sold out. UPDATED NOTES: I think this thing got even woodier while we were waiting to have it bottled. But it worked out because this whisky offers everything, including a very unique flavor profile. It's incredibly medicinal right on the initial sip, but then this oily, woody, resinous flavor dominates and turns the peat into an almost vegetal smoke. It's intense, but absolutely delicious. It's exactly what you pay for with age: complexity.
We all know what it took to get these bottles here (some of us more than others), but it's been worth every bit of effort. Working with Colin Armstrong and his Bladnoch distillery has been an absolute pleasure and we're looking forward to going back again very soon. In the meantime, enjoy these three eclectic selections while they're here because they're already going fast -- even without us posting anything or sending out an email. It seems the demand was pent up and the hype was built long ago. It's been a year in the making, but we've finally done it: distillery-direct Bladnoch now available in the United States. We picked the casks. We designed the labels. We got the distillery FDA registered. We got the casks across the water and into our store. Now we're offering these whiskies to you. This offering beats the hell out of anything from Auchentoshan or Glenkinchie, trust me. Bladnoch is the true lowland king, and now it's part of our K&L exclusive program.
Check it out!
Bladnoch 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive Lightly Peated Single Barrel #303 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $69.99 - Our 11 year old cask is actually a lightly-peated formula that the Armstrongs began distilling at the beginning of their tenancy. It captures the soft fruitiness that Bladnoch has always been known for, but adds just a touch of phenolic complexity to the mix (think somewhere in between Talisker and Springbank). With a rich, almost jelly bean-like sweetness on the finish and that hint of peat adding the accent, the whisky pops perfectly with the 51.5% alcohol providing a balance against the fruit.
The container from hell is finally here. After labeling issues, government shut-downs, insane weather patterns off the coast of England (record 50 foot swells), and a number of other unforeseen complications, our gigantic drop of single malt whisky has arrived. I just went through and re-tasted every single whisky and I'm happy to report that they're all just as wonderful as I remember them. We'll be processing pre-arrival orders beginning today, but look for a number of new releases that were never offered as preorders very, very soon. Bladnoch should be available by the end of the day, along with a few other surprises!