Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New K&L Scotch: The Single Grains

Next up on my week long K&L tasting are some very old Scotch single grain whiskeys bottled under Hunter Laing's Sovereign label.  Scotch grain whiskeys, of course, make up the bulk of most blended whiskeys. They can be made from pretty much anything but corn, rye and barley are common ingredients, and they are distilled on column stills.  Very few Scotch distilleries market their own grain whiskeys, but occasionally, independent bottlers get hold of a cask or two.

Girvan 24 yo, distilled 1990, 50.3% abv ($100)

The nose is mostly bananas with some alcohol notes.  It seems odd to find this in a 24 year old whiskey, but the palate opens with new make notes, then some banana, though it's a more subtle banana note than on the nose. It's very sweet and has a very short finish.  There's just not that much to this one.  Unless you're a big fan of bananas, I'd avoid it.

Port Dundas 36 yo, distilled 1978, 60.1% abv ($150)

The nose on this is very subtle with light grain notes.  The palate is sweet and spicy with vanilla first and then a smoky bacon note.  The finish is soft with grainy notes and a touch of alcohol.  This one is decent and a bit odd with the smokiness in the mid-palate.

North British 50 yo, distilled 1964, 44.7% abv ($250)

The nose has caramel, vanilla and some savory notes which I got as chicken fat.  The palate is a huge dessert bomb with sweet caramel and vanilla.  It's a damn candy bar.  The finish, as with all of these grain whiskeys, is short, light and slightly sweet.  This was pretty tasty if not overly complex.

I'm not generally a big single grain fan, so I wasn't particularly enthusiastic about these.  While the North British was good and the Port Dundas was decent, for the price, I'd much rather buy some of the K&L malts I tasted over the last two days.

Tomorrow: The K&L Rums

Thanks to David Othenin-Girard for the samples.


StraightBoston said...

No Scotch distilleries that I'm aware of market their own grain whiskeys

What about Haig Club?

sku said...

Ah, you're correct. I should have said, no distilleries without soccer star spokespeople market their own grain whiskeys.

Anonymous said...

There are also original bottlings of Girvan Single Grain by William Grant & Sons.


Florin said...

Just read last night in David Broom's atlas that wheat has replaced corn as the grain of choice for grain Scotch.

Also - why are these not more like Bourbon, since the materials and the process are similar? There's the new vs. used oak barrels, of course, but more importantly Bourbon is distilled and barreled at much lower strength (<60% or so) compared to Scotch grain whisky, which is up to 95%, a shade short of vodka.

Having said this, I really enjoyed a North British 16yo cask strength, still available at a fraction of these K&L bottles.

Jordan Devereaux said...

Florin, that 16 YO North British from Binny's reminds me a lot of an American wheat whiskey like Bernhiem, which makes a certain amount of sense.