By Andy Smith, President LASC
In March 2015, LA Scotch Club visited 14 of the newest K&L exclusives scotch releases. Among the 70 attendees were 10 lifetime LASC members who volunteered recommendations for what you should purchase. This was a great batch, perhaps their best overall. Nearly all of these were winners with at least a few fans. Some however, seemed to find themselves on our personal “must buy” list more than others.
OVERALL MUST BUY
Mortlach 2007 7yr Hepburn’s Choice
This floral stunner is not only $50 but also made nearly everyone’s favorite list. The days of great $50 single malt are gone, so it’s nice to taste a memento from the good o’l days.
BEST PEATED BUY
Caol Ila 2008 5yr Hepburn’s Choice
There were 4 peaters in this batch. All of them were in the top half of the ratings and each one was listed as a fave by at least one reviewer. The Laphroaig eked out as the favorite but with the Caol Ila 5yr at nearly 1/3 of the price it’s our choice for the peat category. This one in particular reminded us of some of the early Caol Ila releases of Elements of Islay series. Those are collectibles now so let’s drink these instead.
BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
At $25 K&L had to really screw this up to make it a bad deal. They didn’t. This is entirely drinkable and at 50% ABV for those of us that phooey watered down whisky. There isn’t any reason not to give this bottle a try. Well, unless you’re a billionaire. Then go buy Mac 30 instead.
Port Dundas 1978 36yr Sovereign
Grains, keep in mind, are a different breed from single malts. They tend to have a coconut flavor that is unique to them just like like bourbons and ryes have their own flavor. Some folks hated these all and felt it was too far from the scotch they were accustomed to. Some ,however, didn’t mind getting a little naughty with single malt’s cousin. The Port Dundas stood out by far from the other two, rating as high as most of the single malts. In my humble opinion, it was the best of all the K&L bottles, although the majority opinion was a tad more balanced. More than the others, Port Dundas had a remarkable reaction with the cask that overshadowed its grainier qualities. It’s unique, it’s 36 years old, it’s $150, and its worth it.
Miltonduff 1995 19yr Hepburn’s Choice
I hesitate to mention this because only 80 were bottled and we used two of those for our events. This was a runner up behind the Mortlach. Although it’s a bit more at $100, the likelihood that you’ll ever see a better Miltonduff is as doubtful as the likelihood that the 78 bottles or less will be available much longer.
This isn’t Kindergarten and not every bottle can be a winner. As said before, none of these were bad, but some generated under-enthusiasm.
North British 1964 50yr Sovereign and Girvan 1989 24yr Sovereign
North British and Girvan were a bit too “grainy” overall. There are some who really like grains and these are for them. For the rest of us, it’s probably a pass. I should point out that a comparable 50yr old North British from a different label sells for $2000. This sells for $250. Just sayin’.
Craigellachie 1996 8yr Hepburn’s Choice and Tobermory 18yr Old Particular
These were less memorable when compared to the others. I can’t even remember what to say about them.