Whisky Season 2016 – Round One

Now that I'm moving into my upper-thirties, I'm finally of an age when I can start saying things like, "Remember when Coke cost a nickel?" Well, actually it's more like, "Remember when MTV actually played music videos?" In any case, if you've been reading the blog with any regularity, you'll know I've been suffering from nostalgia for the past year, longing for the days when everything made sense to me. Traveling to Scotland this year with my colleague Jeff Jones, we talked ad nauseam about the olden times at K&L, back when you could get eighteen year old whiskies for less than a hundred bucks and we actually had special selections on the shelf year-round. In our search for new single barrels and our meetings with suppliers, I channeled all of those sappy, sentimental emotions into our dealings. While of course I wanted to find great whisky, what I really wanted to do was find a way to bring down the prices. While tasting an old school, no-frills sample of 18 year old Auchentoshan at Douglas Laing, I looked at Jeff and said: "Wow, this is good." He agreed. "The problem," I continued, "is that it will probably sell for over a hundred bucks." But what if we could sell it for around seventy? That would really be something. But how could we do that? 

Creativity! We decided to move some numbers around, do a little of this, a little of that, back load a few things for the Y2K update, etc. In all honesty, however: don't ask how; just enjoy. This is just the beginning.

1997 Auchentoshan 18 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Old Particular" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky - $69.99 - Don't be fooled by the low price! The fact that we can offer 18 year old, single barrel, cask strength Auchentoshan is a result of our hard work and not the result of sub-par whisky. Not only is this Lowland delight a strikingly delicious single malt whisky, it's one of the most complex Auchentoshan specimen we've had the pleasure of tasting. The palate starts off with a kiss of sweet vanilla, followed by somewhat surprising notes of Earl Grey tea, savory spice, and a combination of citrus and stone fruit. At cask strength, those flavors are slightly muted by the 52.1% ABV, but a few drops of water help to placate that power. We typically sell the standard Auchentoshan 18 year old for $110 per bottle at the watered-down 43% ABV, so to see a release of this nature for $40 less per bottle is indeed shocking. Those looking for lighter, easy-to-drink summer malt can enjoy the sheer drinkability of the Auchentoshan without sacrificing depth, complexity, or intrigue. We're not sure if we're more excited to be selling the whisky or drinking it.

1996 Arran 19 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Old Particular" Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky - $69.99 - Last year we purchased a 15 year old single sherry butt from Arran that sold for $129.99. Now we're offering a second cask with an additional four years of age for almost half the price! These are heady times for K&L customers, indeed! This recent arrival from our Old Particular line is lighter on the sherry influence as the cask itself had been used previously to mature whisky, but that only allows the inherent maltiness of the Arran to come through. What the sherry does is simply highlight the toasted grains and the subtle hint of maritime influence, almost like a light frosting on a cake. The weight of the whisky is supple on the palate and the richness comes through on the finish with waves of baking spice, bits of cocoa, and a mealy biscuit note. Arran has been one of our most popular producers over the last five years with more and more customers finding a happy medium in the island distillery's mild-mannered profile. At no time, however, have we offered an Arran this good for a price this low. Take advantage of our direct-import offer while it lasts! As this is a single barrel, the quantities are finite and we rarely have enough for everyone. 

1987 Glenturret 28 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Old Particular" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky - $89.99 - It's rare to see a 25 year old whisky for less than $150 these days, and even when we do see the occasional bottle our first instinct is often to ask: what's wrong with it? Understanding that natural reaction we had to ask ourselves: how will people respond when we offer them a 28 year old, single barrel, cask strength, Highland single malt for $89.99? We're hoping you'll be excited because we're absolutely thrilled! Glenturret isn't a household name among whisky drinkers, but for those in the know it's part of the Edrington portfolio: the group that owns Macallan, Highland Park, and Glenrothes. Glenturret is also considered the oldest distillery in Scotland, having been founded in 1775, and today it's the home of Famous Grouse: the world-renowned blended whisky in which it plays a large role. This 28 year old expression has reduced naturally down to a perfectly-drinkable 46.4% ABV and has the richness, oiliness, and concentration that only mature whisky can offer. It's full of brandied fruit, resin, supple caramel, and creamy malted goodness. Despite its old age, the whisky is surprisingly lithe and light on its feet. By no means is this a heavy, full-bodied number, but rather a classic Highland whisky with plenty of barrel-aged complexity. For the price, it's a no brainer. 

We'll get back to you about round two in about ten days or so. Stay tuned! (But also, don't expect all three of these whiskies to last until then!)

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll