Whisky Season 2012 Update: Two New Signatory Casks

Signatory's warehouse at the Edradour distillery is one of our favorite playgrounds in Scotland.  Last year we snagged what was perhaps the best whisky we've ever imported: the 1974 Ladyburn that left both us and our customers speechless.  While we did discover some mind-blowing casks this time as well, the inflation of the whisky market prevented us from going deeper than we had hoped. Prices on big names were incredibly high, which sent David and me into bargain-hunting mode - scouring the corners, dusting off old names, and opening casks from distilleries we might normally pass over.  In the end, we emerged victorious with two tasty whiskies at even tastier prices.  While they won't send malt geeks into a frenzy like some of our future releases are bound to, they will eventually represent the core of what we consider our mission to be: find great whisky, buy it, bring it home, drink it.  If the malt is good and the price is right, we're all going to be very happy.  Mission accomplished.

2002 Longmorn 10 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Single Malt Whisky (Pre-Order) $49.99 - The Signatory warehouse in Pitlochry is bursting with hidden treasures, many of them at a tremendous price point.  While the big names draw even bigger prices, we found ourselves more inspired by some of the lesser-known distilleries - the ones with reputations for great booze without the designer label.  Pernod-Ricard's Longmorn distillery, ensconced deep within the Speyside region, produces one of the most respected single malts in the business, known for its balance and elegant richness. Stateside, we only get the lovely 16 year old, but at a price most people aren't willing to pay. That makes independent bottles of Longmorn quite the coveted item amongst American collectors who want serious whisky at a bargain price.  Our ten year old barrel, from a Bourbon hogshead fitted with new toasted ends, is wonderfully fruity and expressive.  The palate is light, fresh, and full of supple vanilla across the backend.  The finish is malty with sweet grains dancing long after the whisky has vanished.  We strongly felt that whisky tasted better at 46%, which is why we decided not to bottle at full proof.  That brought the price down even lower, making this whisky one of the best values from our entire trip - period!

1999 Benrinnes 12 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (Pre-Order) $69.99 - One of our favorite experiences when visiting Scotland is the chance to taste whisky from distilleries that don't bottle their whisky as a single malt. Diageo owns the whisky from more than forty distilleries, many of which are used only for the company's blended Scotch labels like Johnnie Walker.  Benrinnes is one such distillery.  Named after the famous Speyside mountain, it is known for its lively character and fruity essence, providing the backbone of expression to many successful blends.  Our cask is very much reminiscent of this reputation, beginning with plenty of fresh fruit with barrel spice and a playful palate that reminded us of our Bladnoch selection from last year.  With a few drops of water the oils come out, bringing more texture, soft flavors of oak, and plenty of vanilla to balance out all the fruit. The result is a wonderful bottle of Scotch, offering depth, variety, and drinkability.  Benrinnes isn't as widely-known as many of other distilleries whose whisky we'll be importing and it is precisely for that reason we're excited to bring it to our customers.  In the great hunt for value in single malt whisky, we must continue to search outside the box. In this case, we've found a real winner from a distillery we'd like to see more of.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll