Finally Here

Why These Three Casks Will Be The Most Important Whiskies We Sell All Year

Finally. After setting an ETA for October, then telling our pre-arrival customers that they would have their whisky no later than Thanksgiving, we have our last three barrels from Whisky Season 2012 in stock and ready to go. One of the most frustrating periods of my professional life has now come to a conclusion and we can finally start selling the whisky we told everyone about so long ago.

Here's the deal with these last three stragglers - they're the three most important whiskies we have in our inventory right now. I knew their value when we originally tasted them and I desperately wanted them to sell before Xmas, when customers related to us their love for both Lagavulin and Macallan, but wanted a unique and interesting substitute as a holiday gift.

"Can you wait until late January?" I'd say gritting my teeth and forcing a weak smile.

We all know that the Glenlochy cask represented the collector's item of the year. We know that the Port Ellen was the hot acquisition of the year (which is now finally reviewed elsewhere, for any non-believers out there). We told you the Glenfarclas casks were the "whiskies of the year" (also finally reviewed elsewhere for anyone who thinks we were embellishing). However, these were all very expensive whiskies. Like in the $300 to $600 range. Baller whiskies. Where were the values - the whiskies that delivered the bang for the buck? They were stuck on a boat, that's where.

Now, after multiple delays, they're finally here and available for the general public - albeit three months too late.

Why are these casks such a big deal? Let's do some analysis:

1993 GlenDronach 19 Year Old "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $139.99 - Do you know how frustrating it is to sell Macallan 18 for $170 a bottle? It's painful. Macallan 18 is a $100 bottle of whisky on its best day. The Glendronach 19 is everything that the Macallan 18 wishes it could be, but never will. Huge sherry, big, rich, chewy textures, and a gum-smacking, mouth-filling finish full of raisined fruit at full proof. "No, we don't have anything else in that price range that's full of rich sherry flavor, sir." I'm so happy I no longer have to say that! This is the sherry-lover's dream come true. The only thing close we've had lately is the Isle of Arran 15 year old single sherry barrel, but even that fantastic whisky is no match for this Glendronach.

1984 Benriach 27 Year Old "K&L Exclusive" Single PX Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $199.99 - I said it when we first tasted this at the distillery, and I'll say it again now - this is going to be the most popular whisky we sell all year.  Easily. This is the flavor profile people absolutely crave. The amount of smoke and the sherry intermingling together in this ancient Benriach is simply unparalleled by any other available single malt on the market. There's nothing this smoky that has this level of sherry that I can think of. Imagine old peated, sherried Brora and that's the closest thing I can imagine. I'm going to have to hand out a free pair of Depends for any customer who purchases a bottle because some people might actually crap their pants after tasting it. I was so bummed we didn't have this around for holiday gifts last year, but what can you do? It still tastes good now. Hopefully you didn't spend all your Christmas cash yet!

1998 Glen Garioch 14 Year Old "K&L Exclusive" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $99.99 - Again, much like the the above two whiskies, there is nothing on the market that tastes quite like this whisky right now. However, while the other two whiskies represent something very specific (heavy sherry, peated sherry) the Glen Garioch offers a mealy, grainy, beery character that I simply do not taste in any other distillery's distillate. Add the fact that this whisky throws a faint whisper of peat on the finish and you've really got one of the most interesting and dynamic single malt selections in the store. I plan on making this my house bottle for the next few months. I've been craving it like nothing else lately, so I was very happy to wrap my arms around this bottle when I came to work today.

Three whiskies. Three incredibly late deliveries. Three wonderful choices for those of you who haven't spent enough on booze already. I've got my Macallan 18 substitute. I've got my "I like Lagavulin, but I want to try something new" selection. I've got my "what are you drinking right now?" bottle as well. Seeing that those are three of the most commonly asked questions I get as spirits buyer here at K&L, that makes these the three most important whiskies currently in stock.

Come and get 'em.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll