Tag Archives: K&L Wine

Mortlach 16 Year (K&L Wine)

Mortlach Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Distilled 1998
The Signatory Vintage Un-Chillfiltered Collection

$100
55.8% ABV
Website

What the Bottler Says
Can we keep the Mortlach momentum rolling? It seems that ever since we released that amazing sherry butt of Mortlach from Chieftain’s all those years ago, we’ve been riding a wave of Mortlach enthusiasm for the sherry-aged Speyside beast. Diageo even released their own single malt version (maybe we had something to do with that, eh?) We’re always on the lookout for more Mortlach, especially sherry-aged barrels, and it turns out that Signatory had a sherry-finished butt sitting in their Pitlochry location just there for the taking. The first sip is all you need to get excited: lots of gingerbread, cinnamon, holiday cookie goodness just explodes on the palate, with cakey, sherry flavor rounding out the back end. At full proof, it’s as much of a beast as ever. But the fact that this cask was simply finished in sherry, rather than aged in the sweet wine from day one, is a big benefit. The maltiness of the whisky is still there at the core and the finish still sings of whisky

What Richard Says
Nose: Spicy and fruity. Allspice, sage, cinnamon, vanilla, nectarines, and dried apricots.
Palate: Rich and mouth coating with a terrific sweetness. Cigar humidors, more dried apricots, cinnamon candies, high cacao dark chocolates, and a big smack of sherry.
Finish: A nice woodiness with hints of graphite and cinnamon. When everything else fades you’re left with dark chocolate cocoa powder.
Comments: This beasts needs the water. Even for those, like myself, that regularly indulge in the 52-58% cask strength dram this one needs a few splashes or it comes out too hot. Delicious, but too hot. You’ll only be tasting the first dram otherwise. Sadly, this barrel is all sold out. With Diageo releasing their own ridiculously overpriced proprietary bottlings of Mortlach I’m sure the glory days of independently bottled, heavily sherried Mortlach are nearly gone. But there may still be time. If you are a fan of sherry forward malts (Macallan, Aberlour, Glendronach, etc.) and you see something like this Mortlach at a reasonable price then grab one. They rarely disappoint.
Rating: Must Buy

Auchentoshan Hepburn’s Choice 1997

1997 Auchentoshan 19 yr “Hepburn’s Choice” (K&L Wines Exclusive)
53.3% ABV
$80
Website

What the Retailer Says: Auchentoshan often gets overlooked in the new age of big sherry and big peat. The Lowland stalwart’s triple-distilled, light, and fruity flavors often have more in common with Irish whiskey than they do Scotch single malt, but that’s exactly why we love it! The longer Auchentoshan sits in wood, the more exotic those fruit flavors become, which is exactly what happened inside this hogshead from Hepburn’s Choice. There’s a kiss of sweetness right off the bat that’s lifted and bolstered up by the 53.3% ABV. The vanilla kicks in shortly after and there are cheerful notes of shortbread and oak spice on the finish. At 19 years old, this whisky is still full of malty character and by no means shows its age. Think of this whisky as a cask strength version of the Midleton Rare, but at almost half the price. With water, the fruit really opens up and flavors of caramel and king sugar begin to unfold. It’s a whisky that does justice and honor to the classic Lowland style.

What Gary Says
Nose: Clean, cereal malt, with a subtle citrus (kiwi & lemongrass) with fresh tobacco & tea leaves; just a hint of smoke.
Palate: Sharpens quickly with a pepper spice, and then sweetens to barley sugar, figs, tangerine, and a hint of nutmeg.
Finish: Moderate to long, and drying.
Comments: Classic Auchentoshan profile – at least from what I’ve read. I honestly haven’t had much from them before, but I found my tasting notes lined up pretty close with how they describe the retail Auchentoshan 18yr (which I often find the distillery notes tend to be overzealous – but hey, they’re trying to move product). While this is similar to their notes, and I imagine a fair representation of their offering – it isn’t right in my wheelhouse. When I first opened it, I was disappointed – but I’ve liked it more each time I’ve gone back to it. I’d love to try this after only the 2nd distillation, as thrice distilled it is just too clean for my liking.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says
Nose: Green tea, lemon zest, and malt-o-meal. Water makes it a bit more grassy and vegetal.
Palate: This is lovely and much easier to drink than any other cask strength lowlander that I’ve had. Creamy and honey sweet with a kick of cracked black pepper at the end. A bit a water taps down the pepper and bring forward more a of an orange blossom note.
Finish: More pepper (even with water) and wood. Medium and dry.
Comments: Very nice. I really enjoy this whisky. I actually like it with very little water. The fullness dies quickly with too much additional dilution. A nice one for Auchentoshan and single malt fans alike. As referenced in the K&L’s notes, I agree that this might be something that would appeal to drinkers of Irish whiskey too.
Rating: Stands Out

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

Longmorn 21 Year (K&L Wine)

Longmorn Single Malt Scotch Whiskey Vintage 1992, Bottled 2013
52.4% ABV
$114.99
Website
Longmorn21
What the Bottler Says:
Oh Longmorn, you elusive lovely creature. Last year, we bottled a Longmorn from a fresh sherry butt that was arguably our most positively received whisky of 2012. All the whisky geeks went mad and snatched up every bottle moments after it arrived. This year we return with another Longmorn of a similar price and aged, but this time it’s coming from a second fill butt. It’s not the sweet up-front style of last year’s, but instead a powerful whisky filled with fresh vanilla, dark dense fruit, and aromas of toffee and spice. This is a fabulously complex whisky with a roundness that’s undeniably pleasurable. Again don’t expect a redux of last year’s cask, but a special whisky that stands tall on it’s own merit. All lovers of this splendid Speyside distillery, located just south of Elgin, should buy now before the price goes up. A very welcome addition to the Faultline family.

What Richard Says:
Nose: The age and second fill nature of the sherry barrel make for a surprisingly nuanced nose. Dark berries, stewed prunes and raisins, and treacle syrup drizzled over panna cotta.
Palate: Rich, mouth coating, and unctuous. There are layers flavors here running the gamut of herbal, floral, and fruity with a nice viscous non-cloying sweetness to round it all out. All this lays nicely over a rich malty backbone.
Finish: There’s very little wood given the age. What there is seems light like a damp toothpick. It’s a little dry and slightly tannic but very clean.
Comments: How much do I like thing bottle? Well, after trying it a friends house earlier this year I rearranged my travel plans to Napa and Sonoma in June so that I could swing by K&L in San Francisco to get a bottle. Yeah…that much. You don’t see much Longmorn around but when you do it’s usually pretty damn good.  This is in the top three Longmorn’s I’ve ever had.  There’s a half-joke that goes around the scotch industry that Longmorn is every distiller’s second favorite malt. Try it and you’ll see why.
Rating: Must Buy

Cragganmore 23 Year (K&L Wine)

Cragganmore Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whiskey 23 Years Old
54.8% ABV
$109.99
Website
Cragganmore23
What the Bottle Says:
Finally, the return of Cragganmore to the Faultline line up. One of our first bottlings was a fabulous 20 year old Craggy, from a hogshead. That was three years ago and we haven’t seen another Cragganmore from any of our suppliers since, so when this one popped up as a potential Faultline candidate we jumped on it. We were surprised again by both the quality and the incredible price! Cragganmore is distilled from very lightly peated barley. Over the course of 23+ years in a refill sherry butt, that subtle smokiness has morphed into what can only be described as quintessentially Speyside. Imagine a highland shrub recently in bloom after months of dormancy during the long cold winter. Imagine the honey bee attracted to the tiny purple flowers, returns to her hive, which is situated precariously on the outstretched limb of knobby oak tree. The honey slowly drips out of the dense honeycomb on to the damp reeds below. This tiny florally flecked speck of honey trapped on a blade of grass flutters in the breeze to land on a damp stone on the banks of the river Spey. Droplets from the idly lapping river loosen the blade from its sticky perch on the wet stone, eventually releasing it into the meandering river as it twists toward the north sea. Now imagine yourself with a bottle of Cragganmore. You have a very good imagination…

What Richard Says:
Nose: Heather, vanilla wafers, lavender honey, and a balanced sherry note that plays with a little leather and tobacco typically seen in malts of 30 plus years. Stone fruits and a little eucalyptus come out with a splash of water.
Palate: Damn! This is amazing. Sherry, vanilla cream, stone fruits, cherries jubilee, and oatmeal raisin cookies.
Finish: After 23 years the only place the oak shows up is the long lingering tale of the finish. Not too much. Just a slow steady swan song.
Comments: This is bottled at almost 55% alcohol by volume but it drinks much smoother than that. It’s almost a sin to add the water but not quite. Do so sparingly. This is one of only 270 bottles bottled exclusively for K&L Wine Merchants in California. The malt alone makes this a must buy but the price is a damn steal!
Rating: Must Buy