Whisky Season 2014 Kicks Into High Gear
The Signatory warehouse in Pitlochry is the warehouse that keeps on giving. This should wrap up the first batch of barrels due in at the end of summer. We'll get back to you in a few weeks about the second drop planned for later this winter.
Now get ready for more barrels from someone besides Signatory! But, of course, check through these first:
1992 Bruichladdich 21/22 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $139.99 - Now that Bruichladdich has been purchased by Remy and the older stocks have become harder to find, we just couldn't pass up the opportunity to bottle a 20+ year old hogshead of the unpeated Islay distillate -- especially for a price this hot! At 53% cask strength, the malt is bold enough to offer a bit of a kick, yet reduced enough to allow the more delicate side of the whisky to shine. The salty, supple notes are apparent right on the initial sip, bringing back memories of Bruichladdich's "Waves" expression, albeit with much more complexity and age. The stone fruits are soft and enticing, with more saline, maritime notes undulated under "waves" of richness and oily textures. If you were ever a fan of Bruichladdich from the old Susan Purnell days here at K&L, then this whisky is like a nostalgic ride down memory lane. This is the flavor that many a K&L customer cut their teeth upon, and at the price we're selling it for, it's not all that much more than it cost back then. For all the whiskies we taste in Scotland each year, this is the flavor profile I've found most difficult to duplicate -- mature Island whisky without smoke. (David Driscoll, K&L Spirits Buyer)
2002 Bowmore 12/13 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Hogshead Single Malt Whisky $74.99 - Bowmore is ALWAYS such a sleeper for us. Each year, we find a cask or two of Bowmore that we absolutely fall in love with. There are so many reasons why Bowmore is special, it's hard to pinpoint why exactly we love it so much. Is it because they are malting more than 25% of the barley on site? Or perhaps it's the fact that the distilleries main warehouse sit below sea level. Maybe it's the incredible resources and expertise that the distillery has or the peculiarity of the stills. Either way, we are absolutely entranced by most millennial Bowmore. This 2002 was so taught and powerful at full strength that we decided to experiment with bottling at lower proof. When we added water the whisky turned around and smacked us right in the face! What started as a sharp spear of smoky and peat seemed more like a catapult with a flaming ordinance. Not as bracing or angular, the lower proof actually broadens the whisky considerably. It's smoked seawater, strange spices, and wisps of wild dried fruits. Bowmore deserves to be expensive, but this whisky delivers far beyond its price point. Inevitably it will go unnoticed, until you know, someone notices and buys it all. It's always the same with Bowmore, so get a head of it. (David Girard, K&L Spirits Buyer)
1983 Caol Ila 30/31 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $259.99 - We just can't stay away from these old Caol Ilas. Maybe it's because they're the last old Islays available, but we keep coming across these casks of Caol Ila that are just on fire. Caol Ila (arguably the most unsung Islay distillery) was spared closure in 1983, while its sister distillery Port Ellen was not so lucky, and reliably churned out whisky throughout the 80's whisky slump to provide a smoky base to the big name blends. While collectors the world over search for the final few bottles of Port Ellen left out there, few realize that if they just expanded their horizons slightly, they'll find equally wonderful old Islay whisky is still being produced and I might even call it affordable. This spectacular cask from the Signatory warehouses is strikingly different from the 32 year we released last year. Here, we have much less focus on the exotic wood, earth and funk and much more classic Islay in every sense. We can go down the list and describe the expected and clearly evident flavors, smoke, ash, brine, lemon peel, oyster shell, nuts, it's all there. It takes a slightly herbal turn on the finish, but remains above all other things powerful yet balanced. Of course, that doesn't tell you anything about how special this whisky actually is. All I can say is that Caol Ila is one of our favorite distilleries and this malt is exactly why. (David Girard, K&L Spirits Buyer)
1998 Laphroaig 15/16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $159.99 - Des McCagherty is a man of few words, but when he said to us, "You might want to load up on Laphroaig this year," we listened. Apparently, this is one of the most difficult and costly distillates to purchase on the independent market and stocks are depleting faster than ever from Signatory's Pitlochry warehouse. A yearly barrel of two of Laphroaig at K&L has become commonplace since we started our barrel program and we don't want that to change -- at least not while we can help it. That's why we snagged this 16 year old sherry butt of peaty goodness, full of big smoke, cinnamon, tar, and brine, but rounded out by a rich, sherry-laden note that fans of Laphroaig's PX edition will recognize. That combination of sweet and peat is one of the most popular flavor profiles on the market right now, which always adds a few dollars to the cost. In this case, it's fully worth it. The sherry adds the perfect raisiny balance to the bold, ashy flavors of the 61% spirit. If you've already loaded your cabinet with numerous, collectable bottles from Islay's iconic distillery, then I won't say that this bottle will offer anything new to your selection. However, if you've been taking mature, full proof, relatively-affordable, single barrel expressions of Laphroaig for granted, you might want to start thinking about snagging a few of these. That's what we did, at least. (David Driscoll, Spirits Buyer)