Brexit-Priced Imports – Round II

We’re hoping to make 2017 a value-oriented year in our Scotch whisky department; one that begins to put the fun back into the single malt drinking. With new pricing that reflects our direct dollar-to-pound business, we’re back with round two of our post-Brexit cask selections from Old Particular. Featuring a selection of Highland, Speyside, and grain whiskies, we’ve managed to locate serious whiskies between 18 and 26 years of age, at cask strength, and of a tremendous quality at or under $80 per bottle. If last week’s Dailuaine sherry butt edition whet your appetite for single malt value, we suggest moving on to our first main course: classically-styled selections from Glen Spey, Ben Nevis, Linkwood, and the now-closed Port Dundas that highlight the nuances and intricacies of single barrel whisky for prices that haven’t been seen in years.

1997 Glen Spey 18 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky $64.99 - Glen Spey is one the Speyside's unknown gems, a distillery whose sole job is to make single malt for Johnnie Walker and J&B. If you're a fan of the soft, vanilla-laden, easy-drinking whisky of Scotland's epicenter, then this 18 year old single cask edition of Glen Spey is going to warm your heart while simultaneously warming your palate. When allowed to shine on its own, the nose emits a concentrated aroma of sweet grains, citrus, and malted barley. As it moves over the tongue those flavors become richer: dried orange, dark chocolate, and a wave of vanilla on the finish. At 55.9% cask strength, all of those flavors are dialed up a notch, which is why a few drops of water helps temper the storm and bring the whisky into a better harmony. Think of the Glen Spey as a single barrel, cask strength edition of something like Glenmorangie or unsherried Aberlour, but for a price that has to be seen to be believed. Glen Spey is good, old fashioned drinkin' Scotch and for $65 you can afford pour a little more heavily than usual.

1996 Ben Nevis 20 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky $79.99 - Ben Nevis is owned today by the Japanese whisky company Nikka, who purchased the Western Highland distillery back in 1989. Since that time we've tasted a variety of styles from the Fort Williams facility, both peated and unpeated, but this barrel might be the best expression of Ben Nevis we've ever carried. Supple, succulent, and round on the palate, the malt simply balloons over the palate with big, sweet flavors of dried apricot, honey, marmalade, and vanilla. In fact, the whisky is so creamy and sweet on the finish that we had to double back and ask about the cask type (perhaps Sauternes?), but it turns out this was just a cherry barrel; a perfectly aged hogshead that happened to over-achieve. Fans of our Imperial 20 year casks from Signatory will want to take note: the Ben Nevis 20 is a dead ringer for that fruit-forward Highland style, albeit for $20 cheaper per bottle. Naturally reduced to a very drinkable 51.7% cask strength, this is sure to be one of the friendliest and most popular Highland whiskies we sell this year.

1995 Linkwood 21 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky $79.99 - What could possibly be better than our 19 year old Linkwood cask from Signatory, the whisky made famous for its role in Johnnie Walker Blue? Well, we'll tell you. A 21 year cask of the same whisky that improves upon that foundation in every way, yet sells for $10 less due to our new Brexit pricing! Linkwood has long been one of our favorites, but this 21 year hogshead from Old Particular is one of the more concentrated and expressive we've tasted recently. Known for its elegant vanilla and stonefruit flavors, this particular selection bursts with oak spices from the first sip, then oozes into a mouthful of butterscotch with green apples and toasted almonds on the finish. It's just as elegant as any of our previous editions of Linkwood, it's just that there's more to chew on here. There's a depth and complexity in this particular cask that we never knew was missing from the others. Bottled at 53.6%, the baking spices dance on the finish for minutes with the added proof. For the price, this is an absolute no-brainer.

1990 Port Dundas 26 Year Old "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Grain Scotch Whisky $79.99 - If there's one thing we can help take credit for here at K&L, it's been helping to remove the undeserved stigma associated with grain whisky in the Scotch industry. Maligned and misunderstood for years, it wasn't until we started launching a number of 25-50 year old releases at ridiculously reasonable prices that hearts and minds began to change. When Nikka brought their delicious Coffey Still editions to the market and people saw just how fruity and delicious these corn and unmalted barley whiskies could be, we think grain whisky finally got over the hump. Crazily enough, today our single casks of grain whisky are some of the most anticipated by our customers. The only thing that gets these finicky drinkers more excited than a new cask of mature grain deliciousness is a closed distillery! Port Dundas was officially closed in 2009 by Diageo who had used the whisky for Johnnie Walker and other blends. This single expression, distilled in 1990 before the closure, is absolutely chalk full of brown sugar, toasted vanilla, peaches in syrup, and sweet, sticky caramel on the finish. It lights up the palate from front to back and it pops on the back end with a 51.9% ABV. Drinking 26 year old whisky this good in this style shouldn't be a luxury. Thanks to our new pricing, you can enjoy this whisky a bit more freely than you might otherwise. The North Glasgow distillery might be shut down, but its legacy will live on in this lovely single cask edition.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll