Some New Bottles of Note

I have been so busy lately that a few new arrivals have fallen by the wayside due to the popularity of other items like Kilchoman and Hirsch.  A few weeks back marked the beginning of Comandon Single Barrel Cognac here at K&L, with three different barrels available that we picked out in France last January.  In order to offer enthusiasts a taste of each particular region we chose one cask from Borderies, one from Petit Champagne, and one from Grand Champagne – each highlighting the particular characteristics of these three appellations.  All three are much more traditional than the more rustic and country-style brandies we selected with Charles Neal, showcasing grace and soft elegance rather than power or eccentricity.  I like the Borderies best personally, but all three have merit.

Comandon XO Borderies 18 Year Old K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #524 Cask Strength Cognac $119.99 - Comandon's Cask Strength Borderies is bottled at a perfect 18 years old. It is definitely the most unique and unusual of the three casks from the exceptional Comandon line of Single Barrel Full Strength Cognac. Borderies is one of my favorite regions, though it is usually the least familiar for many amateurs and professionals alike. Often touted for its distinct floral characters (usually violets and iris), these characteristics are not universal. While this brandy does exhibit a distinct floral component, I did not get any violet soapy notes, but instead powerful blooming honeysuckle, plus a fabulous nutty-savory character and a soft, smooth finish. Borderies is best between 15-20 years old, and I don't think this brandy could get any better. This is definitely the one to taste for the adventurous, but will ring out perfectly for a true Borderies lover. Its overt appeal also probably makes this the easiest drinking of the three Comandon casks we bought. At this price, I can only assume that we'll all be very sad when there's nothing left. (David Girard, K&L Spirits buyer)

Comandon XO Petite Champagne 30 Year Old K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #256 Cask Strength Cognac $139.99 - Each of Cognac's regions has an equal potential for quality, a distinction most producers would like you to ignore. Cognac regionality does not come from the quality of the distillate, but in its potential to age. While Grande Champagne is always touted as the finest Cognac has to offer, boasting the region's chalkiest soils, those eau-de-vie are best only after 35+ years of aging, so we often see subpar Grande Champagne Cognac sold before it's ready to drink. The resulting eau-de-vie must be adulterated with oak extract, sugar and caramel to make it palatable. In Petit Champagne, where the chalk is somewhat less prevalent, the eau-de-vie tends to reach maturity between 20-30 years. Because the marketing experts have nearly forgotten about the other regions of France's most prestigious brandy appellation, you could be one of the lucky few to experience the exquisite complexity of the finest fully matured Petite Champagne Cognac. Dense and richly fruity, even with nearly 30 years in cask, this brandy has incredible freshness and lift. At this price, the Petite Champagne will definitely be in short supply. (David Girard, K&L Spirits buyer)

Comandon XO Grande Champagne 40 Year Old K&L Exclusive Single Barrel # 176 Cask Strength Cognac 750ml $169.99 - This phenomenal cask was selected from deep within the sacred paradis at the Tessendier family cellars and represents one of the most exciting finds during our trip to Cognac. While it comes from one of Cognac's negociants, as opposed to the grower/producers we generally focus on, this series of single barrel bottlings will be a compelling statement about the direction of Cognac in the coming years. In Cognac, four brands are responsible for 90% of all sales, leaving very little room for independents brands to operate and squeezing potential grower/producers to near extinction. Sometimes to find the very best products available, we need to maneuver within this framework. While the business is structured differently than our other exclusive selections, the quality is second to none. Comandon's resurrection over the last few years has been meteoric. Named "Best Cognac" at the 2010 SF World Spirits Competition, this single barrel selection from the small Comandon stocks is bottled at strength without reduction. Its beautiful art nouveau label is totally unique. Elegance and refinement remain paramount, while the intensity at full strength adds unparalleled depth. At 40-years-old, this brandy truly epitomizes the potential of Grande Champagne Cognac, allowing to taste why Grande Champagne is so coveted. (David Girard, K&L Spirits buyer)

Bruichladdich asked us to help them move some of their older, no-longer-available, limited-edition bottles that they had stuck in distribution limbo.  We've got great pricing so grab 'em while they're hot!

1984 Bruichladdich Golder Still Islay Single Malt Whisky 750ml (Elsewhere $275) $215.99 - An amazing vintage Bruichladdich, brimming with golden fruits, creamy, rich vanilla, and soft, oily textures, all at cask strength proof. Classic in everyway. We've already sold most of this just via the Whisky Insider email list.

Bruichladdich Legacy Collection Series VI 34 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 750ml (Elsewhere $500) $399.99 - 94 Points from the Malt Advocate - "The sixth and last bottling from the Legacy series. Legacy 6 is a marriage of six casks from 1965, 1970, and 1972. Soft and mellow on the nose and palate, with unbelievably restrained oak for such a mature whisky. Delicious notes of coconut, soothing vanilla, caramel custard, and banana cream, peppered with spice notes of cinnamon, mint, and teaberry that emerge on a soft finish that fades out gently. (Vol. 17, #1).  Only 1704 bottles of this classic 34 year old elixer were produced. A true standout among the classy and elegant whiskies we have ever carried, this all-bourbon-cask-aged malt has the complexity on the nose that only older and distinguished drams can offer: soft honey, spices, oil and wax, grains, cereal, and more - all swirling in and out of your senses. The palate shows all of these profiles and more with touches of citrus and white fruits. Delicate, dainty, and refined, this bottle belongs on the shelf of the most serious of serious collectors. A true masterpiece.

...and then there's my new favorite whisky!  The Bank Note from A.D. Rattray!

Bank Note Blended Scotch Whisky 1L $19.99 - My friends the Morrisons over at A.D. Rattray have really outdone themselves with this, their fantastic Bank Note Blended Scotch for $19.99 a liter!!!!! Now, granted, some of the high-browed single malt drinkers out there might not even flinch about something like this, but trust me, anyone interested in pouring a whisky on the rocks is going to have a new house bottle - forever. At this price and for whisky this drinkable, I can't see anyone coming close to touching the Bank Note. The sherry influence is there, soft vanilla and all that, and the grain comes clean on the finish like any other blend. However, with 40% actual single malt inside each bottle, the supple richness is much more lengthy than say Walker Black or any other comparable blend. I'm buying loads of this. If the public won't touch it, believe me, K&L staff members will be happy to have it all for themselves. 

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll