It's one thing to read our previews based on our straight-from-the-cask experience, but it's another to see how the whiskies actually taste when they arrive in the bottle (because ultimately that's how all of you are going to taste them). Here are some updated descriptions on our latest arrivals:
1997 Benrinnes 17 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $79.99 – UPDATED NOTES: This is just glorious—like what whisky used to taste like back when we carried Chieftain’s and Signatory full time. The nose is a complex layer of stonefruit and vanilla, and a drop of water unlocks an entirely new world of flavor. Sweet tea, brandied fruit, sweet barley—it’s all awaiting you here. So far the best feedback from the staff and customers has been a tie between the Benrinnes and the Bowmore.
2002 Bowmore 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Refill Sherry Hogshead Single Malt Whisky $79.99 – UPDATED NOTES: W-O-W. This is sooooo much better than we remember it tasting. I’m going to post my colleague Jeff Garneau’s tasting notes so you can all see how the staff reacted to this one:
You stumble at the foot of the stairs, eyes struggling to adjust in the dim interior of the nightclub. Somewhere a piano plays an old jazz standard. You are certain you have heard it before but you can’t recall where or when. Soft voices murmur in the darkness, the words themselves indistinct. Suddenly a cigarette flares nearby, illuminating a face of porcelain etched in shadow. Smoke winds upward, disappearing into the gloom. Silk whispers against soft flesh as she raises a hand, gesturing to the chair opposite. You move to sit. The night is full of mystery and possibility. Who knows what might happen? Each year as I taste through the latest single malt offerings from Scotland painstakingly selected by our K&L Spirits team, one bottle in particular will inevitably speak to me. I never really know which one it will be. This year I was shocked to discover it was the 2002 Bowmore 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Refill Sherry Hogshead Single Malt Whisky. Although I enjoy peated whiskies, I am usually more of a Speyside fan. Yet this Bowmore had that extra something – something indefinable, ineffable – something that makes you take a step back, set down your notebook, and just – stop – for a moment. Incredibly soft and silky with a weight you want to savor forever on the tongue. And smoke. Not the raw choking smoke of mistakenly sitting downwind of the campfire. Something deliciously subtle. A memory of old peat fires, permeating the roof beams of a favorite pub. A stolen kiss, the flavor of tobacco on soft lips. A suggestion, a hint, a grace note. Remarkable. Transcendent.
1997 Glenlivet 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Sherry Butt Single Malt Whisky $79.99 – UPDATED NOTES: This is everything you want it to be: chewy, rich, raisined, round, bursting with fresh sherry, but without the big spice or gigantic proof. It’s an elegant profile. When we email this whisky next week it’s going to FLY outta here (that will happen next week). There are about 500 guys who missed out on this whisky last year who still want a bottle, so it’s now or never on this one.
1995 Glen Elgin 18 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $89.99 – UPDATED NOTES: This is Kyle’s favorite and it’s easy to see why certain folks love this whisky: there’s a beautiful floral note followed by round, soft Highland fruit. This is poetic stuff that should please fans of the style. A sleeper hit.
1998 Laphroaig 15 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $169.99 – UPDATED NOTES: $169 seems steep when you're talking about 15 year old single malt, but trust me when I tell you that old casks of iconic distilleries like Laphroaig are not going to be available much longer -- at least for a retailer like K&L to purchase. This is a huge, in-your-face version of Laphroaig; no water added, not diluted in any way. Big peat, big smoke, big Islay in a bottle. The fact that this was aged in refill sherry is icing on the cake. Again, we went for quality over price on this one.
1992 Bruichladdich 21 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $149.99 – UPDATED NOTES: Just a beautiful, ghostly, haunting whisky that seems rather linear at first, but with water transforms into a specter of salt, the sea, and the maritime air. A lost breed of Island malt.
1983 Caol Ila 30 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $279.99 – UPDATED NOTES: Man…just nosing this thing makes my mouth water. It’s all that sweet apple fruit that you get from Caol Ila, but then the salty, peat, smoky notes that just get concentrated supremely after three decades in wood. I just tasted it before typing this. It’s divine. Not bright peat like Port Ellen, or big peat like Laphroaig, but a heavier peat that gets oilier due to the weight of the whisky.
1981 Glenlivet 32 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $299.99 – UPDATED NOTES: The label says “hogshead” but this wasn’t just any old “hogshead.” It was a re-coopered sherry butt from Gonzales Byass – one of the best sherry producers in Spain. The rich, dark, savory sherry notes are on full display in this Glenlivet, but the influence never overwhelms the fruit, which is still more than present on the initial mid-palate note. It’s stellar and it’s not going to last very long in this climate for old Macallan and Glenlivet (hint: we sell them fast these days).