Whisky Season 2013 Continues

We're really kicking it into high gear now. And here's the scary part: we've still got another FIFTEEN casks to announce after these two! For today, however, let's focus on two extraordinary casks from one of our most dependable producers: the Benriach Company.

First off, a 19 year old Bourbon cask of peated Benriach. If you loved the heavy-sherry and smoky goodness from last year's 27 year old, think of this as its younger, leaner brother. This is as close a whisky to the heavenly, distillery edition Caol Ila 18 as I've ever tasted. Many of you know that whisky was discontinued, much to my disappointment. I'm a bit less upset now, however, because I can drink this instead:

1994 Benriach 19 Year Old K&L Exclusive Single Bourbon Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $139.99 PRE-ORDER - Our 27 year old peated sherry butt for Benriach was one of the smash hits from our 2012 campaign. We were definitely on the hunt for more peated malt this time around, but hopefully something new and exciting at the same time. It only took a few minutes before David and I pounced upon this gem of a barrel. This 19 year old Bourbon barrel had all the smoke we were looking for, but with a different richness from the Bourbon wood. Gone was the rich, decadent, sherry-flavored profile of the 27 year. Instead we were treated to soft vanilla, sweet barley, and soft stonefruit, all mingling in harmony. We were transfixed. Perhaps most exciting was how closely this whisky resembled the Caol Ila 18 year - another pure Bourbon-aged whisky that was no longer being exported to the U.S. albeit with much less smoke. The Benriach was like a single barrel, cask strength version of that whisky - bigger, stronger, and more vibrant. There's no doubt about it. This new cask of Benriach is going to steal the show again this year. The level of peat is minor, but strong enough for serious fans of the style, but balanced enough not to overwhelm those who like Talisker or Springbank. The weight and supple character of the malt are simply enchanting and the price is definitely right. What's not to love?

"Another year, another near-20 year old K&L Glendronach cask," some of you might be thinking. It's perfectly alright, we were thinking the exact same thing going into our appointment. Did we really want to do another barrel of the same whisky for the third straight season? "Depends on how they taste," I said to David. Then we sat down, went through the samples, and found this stunning 18 year old aged in PX sherry. It's f-ing decadent.

1995 Glendronach 18  Year Old K&L Exclusive Single PX Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $134.99 PRE-ORDER - Good grief, Glendronach keeps bringing the hits. We've been obsessed with Glendronach since our first visit to the distillery in 2011. They've revamped this distillery, investing in the highest quality wood, using meticulous warehouse management to get the very most out of old stock and continuing to pump out some of the finest juice in Scotland. This year's offering was aged in Pedro Ximenez casks and shows a totally different type of sherry influence from last year's powerfully masculine dry oloroso cask. What we have here is the perfect sweet sherry nose, filled with dense dried plums, spiced pears, subtle flintiness, and a rich creamy core. On the palate, the baking spices really explode fresh clove, nutmeg, and freshly dried stone fruits. This balance between spices, dark exotic oak tones, and powerfully rich fruit is the hallmark of Glendronach. I think this cask will be the best received Glendronach yet. (David Othenin-Girard)

These will be here around the end of November/early December. They will likely be the casks we recommend the most highly as holiday gifts because neither of us can imagine a whisky drinker who wouldn't like either of them.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll