K&L Top Pick December – 1991 John McCrae (Balvenie) 26YO “Hepburn’s Choice” K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength – Scotch Whisky News

Teaspoon

1991 John McCrae (Balvenie) 26 Year Old “Hepburn’s Choice” K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($139.99)

We’ve discussed the practice of “teaspooning” at K&L several times before and it’s critically important to understanding just how special this cask of whisky is. There are some producers who freely sell or trade their single malt and are happy to have their name used in the sale of that whisky. But there are also producers who carefully guard their name, as is their prerogative, but who still end up selling or trading whiskey with the independent bottler market. To guard their distillery name, they “teaspoon” casks before selling them. This is simply the addition of a minuscule amount of whisky from another distillery to the cask. That teaspoon of whisky renders the entire cask “blended malt” (a blend of single malt whiskies from two different distilleries) instead of single malt and as such makes it illegal to call the cask by the producers name. The independent bottling market has created unique names for each independent cask that comes from a particular distillery. Enter “John McCrae.” While the distillery is known for their double cask program, this single cask is everything you want from a 26 year old Speysider of impeccable pedigree. A true gentlemen of the highest order.

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 23, 2018

Another stupendous “blended malt” from Hepburn. This is world class stuff that we just happened to get a hold of. Of course the only reason Balvenie wouldn’t use this exceptional whisky in it’s extremely well regarded whisky program is if it didn’t meet the brands standards. That by no means implies that this whisky is any lower quality than the insane 25 year old single barrels they sell for $700+, but that it just didn’t fit in the program. And I bet William Grant was well pissed when they rolled this cask out of the warehouse to find it had gone under the 47.8% that the 25 year is bottled at. But, we’re the lucky beneficiaries of that “fault” and can now sell you something, that missed the mark for that special line by about 3.2% for an 80% discount. Oh and it taste goddamned delicious, just as you’d expect from an old whisky of this pedigree. There’s no question that we’ll be looking out for more malts like this one, but I doubt we’ll find many that taste quite this special.

Will Blakely | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 24, 2018

A powerful whisky despite its relatively low proof, this bottling definitely shows the prowess of its original distillery. Savory and softly herbal on the nose, it comes across as hearty and wholesome, even soul-nourishing. The taste is deep and earthy supplemented by lighter tones of ginger, citrus and mint. With a dash of water, the aromas open up to include whispers of sweet flowers and thyme. The finish is intensely flavorful and immensely satisfying, like a big meal after a long day of hard work. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind bottle that you don’t want to miss.

Jeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 17, 2018

The last time that K&L had a cask from this distillery it sold out in a very short time. After tasting this selection, I can see no reason that this will not happen again. There is a very pretty almost delicate but pronounce wax and honey nose . The mouth feel is velvet and cream with nice lush honey like flavors. There is a dry and long finish.

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