Brora & Clynelish Casks On The Water

Happy New Year!

What an incredible year we’ve had together!  Truly a whirlwind year here at K&L (the biggest ever for K&L’s Spirits Department) and we have all of you to thank for our making it so special.  While we count 2011 as a major success, we’re committed to making 2012 even better.  To get the year started right, David and I have been working non-stop to bring you something totally unique and incredibly special.  We’ve been talking about our BIG announcement for quite a while and so here it is.  Our good nature and irresistible charm have leant us an opportunity that would have, perhaps, never arose had we not been to Scotland in the Spring of 2011.  This opportunity has now become your good fortune as you’ll be the first (and perhaps only) people to acquire our single barrel version of one of the world’s rarest and most sought-after single malts.  From 1969 until 1983, the Old Clynelish Distillery (briefly called Clynelish "B" before the name was changed to Brora) produced some of the finest peated whisky to ever come out of Scotland.  In 1967, Distillers Company Limited (the entity that would eventually be called Diageo) decided to build a second and much more modern distillery on the site of the Old Clynelish distillery to capitalize on the good name of one of its most popular Single Malts. 

During the summer of ’68 in the far flung town of Brora, one legendary distillery closed and a modern more efficient distillery opened with little consequence or fanfare.  Luckily for us, an unprecedented drought on Islay forced DCL to consider producing a heavily peated malt on the mainland to keep up with the incredible demand for Johnnie Walker.  The newly mothballed Clynelish distillery was reopened and over the next 15 years produced whisky of incredible quality and varying peat levels.  We are now the beneficiaries of this unseasonable dryness.  That’s right, 30 year old Brora, from a single Sherry Butt, bottled at Cask Strength.  I’ve seen the Diageo bottling running upwards of $400, so right now this is a total steal.  For good measure we’ve also purchased a fabulous and mature Clynelish bottled again at Strength from a Sherry Butt as well.  Clynelish is located just below the Brora distillery and also has a track record of producing extremely high quality Single Malt.  The stills were meticulously replicated from the original Clynelish distillery and while production is in full swing, only one official version is available in the US. This is a zero peat version of the “Classic Malt” distillery that complements its older brother perfectly.  No specific ETA on these, but they should be landing in mid March.

Brora 30 Year Old Chieftain's K&L Selection Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky ($249.99) Pre-Order

Your eyes do not deceive you!  Brora stocks have dwindled down to near extinction.  Considered one of the best overall single malts by almost every reputable expert in the business, the waxy, oily, sometimes peaty character of the whisky has become the most difficult style to reproduce effectively.  The newer Clynelish malts have come close, but nothing has the ethereal complexity of Brora.  Our 30 year old selection was aged in sherry barrel for a softer, richer palate that brims with saline flavors, resin, supple viscosity, and an earthy sweetness, with a finish that lingers for minutes.  Even more exciting is the rumor that Diageo will not release another Brora until 2020, when their stocks hit 40 years old.  This may be the last chance to get any Brora for a reasonable price, let alone a fantastic cask like this one.  These will sell out on pre-order so make sure you secure one quickly!

Clynelish 21 Year Old Chieftain's K&L Selection Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky ($114.99) Pre-Order

While many single malts are blends of different types of barrels, some are known to be more sherried than others. Macallan for example is widely enjoyed for its Oloroso sherry character, while something like Ardbeg is decidedly less rich. That being said, it's not that Ardbeg doesn't use sherry-aged whisky in its single malt, it's just that there are far fewer barrels in their recipe. Clynelish, perhaps the most respected single malt in the world by whisky insiders, is a whisky renowned for its light, fruity, Highland character. However, what would happen if one of the few sherry-aged Clynelish barrels were isolated from the recipe and bottled as a single cask selection? The answer is here at K&L. An absolutely stellar, 21 year old sherry cask of Clynelish was sitting right next to our Brora cask at the Chieftain's warehouse so we pulled the trigger. The heather now mingles with raisined fruit, the citrus fruit now turns candied, the wax turns into dripping oil. The complexity of this whisky is simply astounding and collectors everywhere should rejoice at the price. Clynelish is easily on my top five distillery short list and this is one of the best and most unique I've tasted. A single cask of this quality from Clynelish at full proof should easily retail for $150 or more. Grab this one while it lasts.

-David Othenin-Girard

David Driscoll