Scotland - Day 1: One Cask in the Bag
Well, we haven't been here more than a few hours and we've already got one barrel secured. Upon landing in Edinburgh, David and I rushed to the baggage claim where my magic suitcase came through once again! Four flights so far with this blessed bag and four flights where my suitcase has been the first one out on the conveyor belt. Chieftain's was closing at 5 PM, so we snuck in right at 4 PM to do a quick tasting with John and the available casks. Pickings were slim this year as bottlers are currently tightening their belts to keep up with demand. Nevertheless, we did find one outstanding cask we think will be a big hit later this year.
While last year's trip was marked by the complete void of any smoky, Islay single malt for our K&L selections, this year's visit will hopefully make up for that. Right off the bat we found this 18 year old hogshead of Laphroaig, singing its wonderfully peaty tune at a beautiful pitch. Even at 55% the whisky is quite gentle. Soft hints of salt and brine make their presence, but take a backseat to the phenolic action, which itself is somewhat restrained. We think we can retail this for about $130, which would make it $10 less than the fantastic 18 year old Laphroaig from Hart Brothers we've been selling (a whisky that is not from a single barrel, nor at cask strength).
There were some other intriguing options in the room - 18 year old Longmorn, 18 year old Linkwood, and a super oily 1982 barrel of Inchgower. In the end, however, they were good, not great. We have big shoes to fill after last year's unexpected surplus. We want this year to be even better, so we're going to be more scrupulous than ever before. Hopefully, that doesn't leave us with just this one cask!
We're absolutely drenched right now, sitting in our hotel lobby, attempting to dry off after the deluge that opened up onto us. Time for a beer and some much needed rest. Tomorrow we drive north. Glendronach and Duncan Taylor await!