Category Archives: Scottish Whisky

Spice Tree Extravaganza

Spice Tree Extravaganza Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
46% ABV
$140
Website
getimage
What the Blender Says:
As the name suggests, the liquid draws its inspiration from our Signature Range classic, The Spice Tree, but reinterprets it through the use of older components and a significant portion of sherry-cask aged malt whisky. The Spice Tree’s trademark spice character is retained but set within a richer, more elegant frame with a new depth of flavour and complexity.

Decadent and playful on the nose, you will find notes of sherry wine, dark berries and the fragrant sweetness of traditional sweet shops.

On the palate there is juicy red fruit, a dark brown sugar richness, the trademark Spice Tree ginger and clove spice character and an endlessly long, spicy, substantial finish.

32.6% First Fill Sherry Butt aged malt from Glen Ord
17.2% First Fill Sherry Butt aged malt from Benrinnes
2.6% Refill American Standard Barrel aged malt from Allt-a-Bhainne
27.7% Light/Medium Toast Hybrid Cask aged blended Malt scotch composed of 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine, and 20% Teaninich
4.3$ Refill Hybrid Cask aged blended Malt scotch composed of 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine, and 20% Teaninich
15.6% Heavy Toast Hybrid Cask aged blended Malt scotch composed of 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine, and 20% Teaninich

Limited Edition release of 12,240 bottles worldwide.
Bottled August 2016.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Grassy, slightly bitter, stewed fruits and a bit of a sherry backing.
Palate: Cherry tarts with chocolate sauce, crisp apples, candied ginger, berries, and brown sugar cookies.
Finish: The finish is where the name shines. Loads of black pepper and baking spices.
Comments: Extravaganza for sure. This is an incredibly delicious whisky that oozes rich fruits layer with spices. It’s much more sherry flavor forward than regular Spice Tree but both fans of Spice Tree and neophytes will enjoy it. Grab the bottle if you see it.
Rating: Must Buy

Bowmore Darkest

Bowmore Darkest Sherry Cask Finished Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 15 Years
43% ABV
$70
Website
bowmore_bottlebox_CORE_15YO_1487927831
What the Distillery Says:
Matured in an inspired combination of both bourbon and sherry casks, it’s the final three years spent in Oloroso sherry casks that gives Bowmore 15 Year Old ‘Darkest’, one of the most beautifully balanced Bowmores, the rich, deep colour reflected in its name, and its warming finish.

On The Eye: treacle dark amber.
Breathe In: delicious dark chocolate, sun-dried fruits and a tell-tale wisp of Islay smoke.
Sip: wonderful cedar wood and rich treacle toffee.
Savour: the robust and complex finish with a hint of sherry tannin.

What Richard Says:
Nose: A rich meaty sherry nose with just a pinch of salt sea air behind it.
Palate: Sherry forward with deep notes of treacle, stewed stone fruits, raisins, and nuts.
Finish: Dry in a tannic wine sort of way. Cocoa powder, anise, and a hint of salt.
Comments: I’ve got a special place in my heart for this dram. Bowmore Darkest has been an everyday favorite of mine for a long time. Almost as long as I’ve been drinking scotch. I never turn down a glass when offered. I generally find that sherry and peat don’t mix for me. Ardbeg releases are rife with examples of why not in my opinion (check the review archive). Bowmore Darkest is my shining example of how to do it right. For me it is the quintessential sherry Islay single malt. Give it a try when you see.
Rating: Must Try

Strathclyde Old Particular 1988

Strathclyde 1988 28 Year Old “Old Particular” Single Grain Scotch Whisky
(K&L Wines Exclusive)

58.2% ABV
$80
Website
1286865x
What the Retailer Says:
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 28 year old Strathclyde absolutely soaks up the vanilla from the oak barrel and brings loads of soft caramel along with it. At 58.2% there’s some power behind all that supple richness, which allows you to add ice or a bit of water.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Medicinal alcohol, very subtle floral/herbal notes with a bit of pepper spice; water opens up a bit of sweetness, but it remains fairly subtle and muted.
Palate: Creamy mouthfeel, sweet corn, molasses, a hint of vanilla and a vegetal note before sharpening; water brings the sweetness around to toffee without ruining the mouthfeel.
Finish: Sharpens, drying while lingering.
Comments: The nose is very understated; and a challenge to get past the alcohol – but improves with some water (which I’d advise at this proof). The palate is nice, and has that hallmark mouthfeel you get with older scotch – but it doesn’t have a lot of complexity. I was underwhelmed with my first taste, but have liked it a little more each time – and when the water is dialed in just right – it is a delightfully simple pour with a really nice mouthfeel. I hadn’t had a lot of single grain scotch, and couldn’t recall having any from this distillery before. If you’re looking for a 28 yr old single malt, this may disappoint – different whisky class for sure. But you’re not likely to find 28 yr old single malt at this price point either! Don’t regret this blind purchase for the experience, but not something I’d stock up on.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: Buttercream and nail polish remover.
Palate: A fantastically rich, viscous, almost chewy whiskey with tons of vanilla cream and toffee candies.
Finish: Exceptionally muted. Without water you get a bit of heat and residual alcohol but with a splash it’s almost nonexistent.
Comments: This is a very odd whisky to experience. The taste is great but the nose is a bit off putting. The finish basically doesn’t exist so it’s hard to say that it helps or hurts the overall experience. For $80 though, it’s worth experiencing if you get the chance.
Rating: Stands Out

Compass Box Eleuthera

Compass Box Eleuthera Vatted Scotch Whisky
46% ABV
$60
Website
aw00382-compass-box-eleuthera-vatted-malt-scotch-whisky_8
What the Blender Says:
Originally available in all our markets, “Eleuthera” was our very first vatted malt. Typically it combined 15 year-old malt whisky from the village of Brora, aged in re-charred hogsheads, with 12 year-old malt from the village of Port Askaig. Jim Murray said of our first release: “Quite simply, one of the most complex and truly magnificent vatted malts of all time. A collector’s piece.” Sadly, when the 15 year-old malt we needed was no longer available aged in re-charred casks, we decided to retire “Eleuthera” rather than overhaul the recipe.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Smokey sea mist with peat, earthy floral notes along with citrus and vanilla.
Palate: Rich/silky mouthfeel, fruity with subtle spice notes (nutmeg) along with peat.
Finish: Moderately long and pleasantly lingering.
Comments: Damn John Glasser and the folks at Compass Box for making such a delicious whisky, and then stopping. Ok – maybe it’s my fault for only discovering this gem 10 yrs after they stopped producing it. And I must say that I do respect their choice to not mess with the recipe when they couldn’t get the components. I’ll count my blessings that I did find a bottle so long after. In case it isn’t clear, I really love this whisky. This reminds me of Scotland – the sea air, wisps of floral, peaty earthiness. The first time I nosed this whisky, it transported me to the motherland. I’m a big fan of Compass Box Flaming Heart, and this reminds me a lot of that – a more subdued/tamed version, but with a truly masterful balance of smoke/sweet/peat/spice. This is the kind of whisky I could pour and ponder in any season. If I had a Delorean . . . ok, I guess I’d fill it up with whisky from either further back than 2005 – but I’d definitely make a pitstop there to pick some of these up!
Rating: Must Buy

What Richard Says:
Nose: Heavy notes of grass and campfire ash. Benton’s smoked bacon with a citrus zest.
Palate: Rich and fruity sweet with a well rounded peaty backbone. Sea salt sprinkled vanilla cream.
Finish: The finish is heavier on the than the rest. It is incredibly balanced and lingers for a while.
Comments: Damn I miss this whisky. I was fortunate enough to drink my share way back when. I think this was the second bottle of Compass Box that I ever owned after Hedonism. It is really good and I’m glad that I got to revisit it thanks to Gary finding a dusty bottle in Florida. This hasn’t been made for 12 years so if you see one then definitely buy it. If you don’t like then invite us over and we will help you finish it. But I have a hard time thinking that you won’t like it.
Rating: Must Buy

Clynelish Distiller’s Edition

Clynelish 1997 Distiller’s Edition (2012)
46% ABV
$75
Website
clynelish-1997-bottled-2012-oloroso-sherry-cask-finish-distillers-edition-whisky
What the Distillery Says:
Crafted on the coast of Sutherland high in the North East of Scotland, the Clynelish Distillers Edition is double-matured in dry, nutty, spicy Oloroso Seco cask wood chosen to balance and complement the signature delicate maritime flavors of Clynelish with a deeper, spicier, more fruity and richer character.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Thick waxy sherry, chocolate & sea salt, hints of anise and clove.
Palate: Viscous waxy mouthfeel, sherry forward, dark fruit (raisins) with a bit of cinnamon.
Finish: Moderately long and drying, with a little pepper spice.
Comments: I only recently tried Clynelish 14 yr single malt, and wasn’t crazy about it. When I saw this on a shelf, I hoped that the double maturation in oloroso seco cask would bring another dimension, and it absolutely did that. Only one extra year of age on this, but where I’m not a big fan of the standard 14 yr, I really like this. It isn’t quite a “sherry bomb”, but the sherry is quite prominent, and I think plays well with the waxy subtlety that Clynelish is recognized for.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: Creamy and rich with strong notes of sweet dark stewed fruits.
Palate: Black pepper jumps forward and assaults the tongue as it enters the mouth. Mild notes of raisins and plums come through but it is not nearly as sweet as the nose would portend.
Finish: Dry and tannic with more black pepper lingering on the back of the tongue.
Comments: I’m not sure where the disconnect is between the nose and palate/finish. It kind of illustrates my disdain for blenders who only nose and never taste. That said, this was a well integrated spicy dram that I thoroughly enjoyed. I agree with Gary that the oloroso worked a lovely magic on this whisky. If you find it for around the $75 price point then consider picking up.
Rating: Stands Out