Scattered Scotch Thoughts

Things can get a little weird when you're staying late at K&L to count bottles for inventory, but as I was going through our Redwood City shelves last night I had a few epiphanies. This is the first time I can remember an age statement on a bottle of Kilchoman. Granted it's not on the bottle, only on the box, but the new 2009 vintage actually says "eight years" on the front. Maybe it's happened before, but I certainly don't remember it. Since I had yet to taste the new vintage-dated release, I decided to pop a bottle and give it a whirl. Let me say: wow, what a difference eight years makes with Kilchoman. This is the roundest, softest, and smoothest Kilchoman I've ever tasted. You still get all the peaty, smoky, earthy, campfire notes, but there's a creamy vanilla viscosity to the whisky that I've never before tasted in a Kilchoman malt. Rather than that burst of of youthful vigor on the finish I'm so used to experiencing, I got a supple, rounded, sweet malty note that lasted for a full minute. That's some good stuff. 

When's the last time you had a bottle of Dalwhinnie 15? I couldn't remember as I marked off the current inventory on my clipboard, so I decided to pop a bottle of that as well. Dalwhinnie is by far the most beautiful distillery in Scotland, but I always remember the whisky being a little pedestrian; a little too everyday, perhaps. Man, was I wrong. You know what it was? It was my youthful taste buds. Back in the day when I last tasted Dalwhinnie 15, I wanted bold, assertive, full throttle whiskies. Today, I really appreciate this style of whisky immensely. Lots of fruit on the nose, sweet, creamy vanilla on the mid-palate, and a pleasant, grainy finish loaded with oily, cereal notes. For fifty bucks, no less! How many other 15 year olds of this quality are fifty bucks? I still hear people complaining about the loss of Glendronach 15 for $100. This is literally half the price.

Speaking of lamenting a loss, I've heard rumblings that the Stronachie 18 year (my only American mainstream source for Benrinnes single malt) might be going away. That's a pity. This is without a doubt the best 18 year old bang-for-your-buck on the market and has been for years (Glenmorangie 18 a close second). My Edrington rep told me today that Macallan 21 and 30 are being discontinued, but I'm not really lamenting a $600 and $4000 bottle being off the market. I'm really going to miss the Stronachie, however, if we lose access to that Benrinnes stock. Benrinnes is pretty much my favorite distillery in Scotland. 

And then it was back to counting bottles. 

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll