Monday, March 2, 2015

New K&L Scotch: Hepburn's Choice

Last week, K&L got in 14 new private barrel Scotches from the Hunter and Douglas Laing bottlers.   This week, I'll be reviewing the whole lineup, along with some bonus reviews of their new rums.

First up is a series of  cask strength single malts bottled in 2014 under the Hunter Laing Hepburn's Choice label.

Caol Ila 5 yo, Hepburn's Choice, distilled 2008, 61.1% abv ($50)

The nose, not surprisingly, is young, peated malt.  The palate is very sweet with lots of peat.  There's a slight bitterness late in the palate and into the finish which counteracts the sweetness, and it finishes with lots of nice peat on the nose.  It's five year old Caol Ila, and that's exactly what it tastes like.

Mortlach 7 yo, Hepburn's Choice, distilled 2007, 58% abv ($50)

The nose is perfumy and floral.  The palate opens with a bit of those floral notes but they are quickly replaced by a nice, sweet maltiness.  The finish is dry with just a trace of sweet malt and some floral notes on the nose.  This one is nicely composed though the nose was a bit too floral for me.

Tobermory Smoky & Peaty 8 yo, Hepburn's Choice, distilled 2004, 60.7% abv ($60)

The Tobermory Smoky & Peaty is peated whisky that would have gone into Tobermory's Ledaig label. On the nose there are the tequila like notes you get with young peat.  The palate is similarly brash with young peat and some acidic notes that last into the peaty finish.  This one tastes quite young (tasting blind I probably would have guessed it was younger than eight years), but it's fun and bold.

Bowmore 12 yo, Hepburn's Choice, distilled 2001, 58.4% abv ($80)

I'm liking this nose with peat and motor oil, like an old garage.  The palate follows suit with thick, fuely peat; then there's a sweet note, maybe some chocolate, maybe some dessert wine, that sticks to the roof of your mouth while the rest of your mouth is still finished in peat.  This one's a winner, bold but balanced.

Craigellachie 18 yo, Hepburn's Choice, distilled 1995, 54.3% abv ($100)

The nose has sherry and a very light sulfur note along with some coastal breeze.  On the palate there is sweet sherry and a small dose of sulfur which grows into the finish; after a few seconds the finish turns metallic, though not in a bad way, and then a bit salty.  I like how this one transitions from quite sweet to more funky.  

Miltonduff 19 yo, Hepburn's Choice, distilled 1995, 50.4% abv ($100)

This has a nice malty nose, crisp and clean with some grape juice. The palate follows suit with sweet malt notes and a light fruitiness.  It's a straight forward malt; the kind you can drink anytime.

All of these are solid malts.  My favorite was definitely the Bowmore followed by the Craigellachie.  My least favorite was probably the Mortlach which was just a bit too floral for my tastes, though it was still perfectly decent.

Josh at The Whiskey Jug, my February Blog of the Month, is also reviewing the new K&Ls with somewhat different results, so you should check out his opinions on these bottles as well.

Tomorrow: K&L's Douglas Laing Scotch Bottlings

Thanks to David Othenin-Girard for the samples.


SmokyPeat said...

Damn you Sku! Now I just ordered the Bowmore and Craigellachie. My willpower is weak. It's great to have these reviews so early. Two semi-reputable sources also helps. Thanks for your tireless service to our community.

My Annoying Opinions said...

Interesting. I purchased the Craigellachie last week in the hope that it might be like a younger one from TPS a few years ago and it seems from your notes that my wager might have been correct. I'd probably have added the Bowmore to the order if it weren't too late, but maybe it'll stick around. David D's notes mention a lot of fruit but yours don't at all. Yours almost seems like a review of a sherry cask, which this one isn't, I don't think--that is to say, your review seems to stress "dark" rather than "bright" notes.

sku said...

I believe they are all refill bourbon except the Craigellachie which is refill sherry.

Anonymous said...

Rum reviews? Great! I can't wait to see what you think about them.
I always wondered when the Davids would finally put their hands on indie-bottled rum and here they go.
I can't buy them anyway since I live in Germany, but I love the K&L blog and I love indie rum, so I am really excited that more Americans get the opportunity to taste them.
(The selection in Europe is pretty big)