Whisky Season 2014 Continues!

Today we’re launching a fun little horizontal tasting that David, Kyle, and I all found quite compelling – three Highland distillery whiskies, distilled in the same year, with similar styles. The only caveat here is that the Glenlivet is from a Sherry butt and not at full proof, but it’s still fun to do these side-by-side. Check out what we’ve got for you today. Those of you waiting for super value should look no further. It’s not going to get much better than this:

1997 Dailuaine 16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $69.99 -- Dailuaine is a lovely little whisky. I don't love it any less now that I've been chased off the distillery grounds. In fact the whole complex is very unusual. When we were there this year it seemed as though an endless amount of construction was at a standstill. This is also where Diageo has their "Dark Grains" processing facility, which turns the spent barley into pellets for animal feed. The dark industrial dreeriness of this distillery, hidden in a hollow not far from the hill of Rinnes, totally flies in the face of the wonderfully fresh and vibrant malt that they produce. We were actually considering bottling this at 46% because we really liked how it took water, but when we saw how reasonable the cask strength price was we decided to give you the option at home. This has a very classically Dailuaine nose of fresh malt, white pepper, and green apples. It's very off the oak and on the malt. On the palate, the pomace nature continues, with a rich oily maltiness that gives it length. Slight hints of brown sugar, almond, and vanilla pop up with water. That big malty side is tamed perfectly with the addition of water and brings out more subtle aromas on the palate. Now we have some exotic barks, subtle herbal notes, and some baked apple qualities. All in all this is a really fun whisky at an absolutely unbeatable price. (David Othenin-Girard, Spirits Buyer)

Four years ago we sold a 27 year old hogshead of Dailuaine on pre-arrival for $125. The price for the 16 year is just nuts compared to how the market has gone since then. It’s like we’re still getting 2010 pricing from Signatory. Scratch that, we ARE getting 2010 pricing from Signatory.

1997 Benrinnes 16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $72.99 -- Benrinnes distillery is one of the unsung heroes of the Diageo portfolio. It's not released as a single malt in the United States and it gets very little fanfare amongst enthusiasts, but it's one of the prettiest, and more consistently-delicious whiskies we taste between bottlers. We don't taste many barrels of Benrinnes that we don't like. On this year's trip we finally made it to the actual distillery, dropping by unannounced to see if we might take a peek inside. The staff couldn't have been nicer or more accommodating (something that always seems to make the whisky taste just a bit better). As we toured the site, we learned that the fermentation at Benrinnes lasts about sixty-five hours in Oregon pine washbacks, which contributes to the fruitiness of the eventual distilled spirit. When you see something with your own eyes, hear the reasoning and the science behind the process, and then taste that result 16 years later on down the line, it can be quite a rewarding experience. The 1997 hogshead we found at Signatory is brimming with soft vanilla and a round fruity palate that makes me think of Glenmorangie, but even more expressive. The finish is impressive, meandering between brandied cherries and sweet iced tea. At cask strength, the whisky is absolutely perfect -- no water needed. I think our selection of 1997 Highland whiskies is going to be very popular with our value-focused customers. The Benrinnes might be the best of the bunch. (David Driscoll, Spirits Buyer)

The crazy part is that the pricing on the Benrinnes is about the same as the Benrinnes 12 we offered two years back. That’s how good of a deal these casks are. Thank God for Signatory this year.

Above, you see the now-legendary 1997 sherry butt bottling from last year’s Signatory drop. We now present to you its sister cask.

1997 Glenlivet 16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Butt Single Malt Whisky $72.99 -- Well, after kicking ourselves multiple times about not buying several casks of the fabulous heavily sherried 1997 Glenlivet last year, we arrived back at Signatory to find that, of the 25 casks that were available last year, only three were left. When we opened the first one, we honestly looked at each other in disappointment. It was hollow, lighter colored and slightly bitter. The second cask was even less appealing. Finally, we opened the third and final cask to find that dense deep 'livet that we remembered from last year. If you remember last year's cask, we bottled it at 46% because it tasted absolutely incredible at the lower strength and it gets the price down about $40 a bottle. Think classic sherry flavors here, toffee, baking spices, dried raisins, exotic wood, coffee, cocoa etc. It's rich, textured, soft and long. But, what's so impressive about this cask is that we were able keep the price down. While malts all over Scotland were 40-50% higher this year and Signatory's prices were indeed higher, we've decided to lower our margins to keep us in the same relative range as last time. We know that we could get $100 for this whisky all day long and those who tasted it last year know why, but this is only $6 more than last year's pre-arrival price and still below what we were asking on the shelf, plus the whisky is a year older! I believe this cask to be at the very least the equal of last year's offering, so you can imagine it will be just as prized by our customers. (David Othenin-Girard, Spirits Buyer)

Send any questions or comments our way!

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll