Top Hits and Last Calls on the Single Cask Exclusives of Old Particular at K&L California – Scotch Whisky News

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The Scotch Lover’s Go-To Label: Old Particular

Scotch collectors have worn a path to K&L’s door chasing after the single barrel exclusives from “Old Particular.” It’s for good reason so many are drawn to this very special label. Nowhere does one find such remarkable single malts and aged single grains at such affordable prices. The Scotch boom has driven prices into the stratosphere, so it is a genuine relief to find rarities such as these without breaking the bank. Below is a curated list of some of our favorites from the “Old Particular” label. A good number are down to their last few bottles, so if you missed out before or were looking to re-load, now is your chance. From the tantalizing 30 Year Old Strathclyde Single Grain to the fan-favorite 8 Year Old Single Malt from Caol Ila, there is something here for every Scotch drinker.
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2010 Glen Garioch 8 Year Old “Old Particular” K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($49.99)

This property in Oldmeldrum has a reasonable, albeit disputed, claim to being the oldest legal producer of whisky in Scotland. It officially dates back to 1797, and traditionally it has been a quite heavily peated malt. In the 1990s, under the ownership of Beam Suntory, after a period of closure, Glen Garioch reopened and started producing the unpeated whiskey they’re known for today. Even without the peat, Glen Garioch managed to retain lots of richness and its distinct waxy tallow and spice. This sexy little 8-year shows just a smidge of faint smoke, a beautiful saline minerality, and a focused richness. There is a pretty white pepper note on the palate and a sweet back end. At full proof, it has power, but with a little water, it shows more intricacy.

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 13, 2018

I’m an absolute FREAK for Glen Garioch. There isn’t a ton out on the open market, and the stuff we used to see has become extremely expensive. The malt is highly prized by the blenders for its exceptional highland character. Although it’s still not well known to the general public, it commands a premium and rightfully so. I recommend you try to separate the seemingly young age statement from this whisky when evaluating it. Absolutely nothing tastes like Glen Garioch, and this one deserves to be judged without the preconception of age. The nose is gorgeously old school with big inviting malt, deep earthy wood, and a complex mixture of sweet and savory aromas. On the palate, that “almost” peaty feeling adds complexity and nuance. Snappy malt, but not sulfured, it exhibits a gorgeous texture and unsurpassed purity. With water it becomes truly the quintessential eastern highlander. The malt is on display offering a tense aromatic battle between expensive teas and spices, complex fruit and earthy dark malt. On the palate, the feeling of fresh peat (not smoke at but actual product) is on full display. There’s absolutely nothing in the store that tastes anything like this special whisky, and for people who are truly enamored by top-quality distillates in their purest form, you’ll definitely appreciate this special bottle.

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2007 Benrinnes 11 Year Old “Old Particular” K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($54.99)

While we take every opportunity we get to buy a blue-chip distillery cask at reasonable prices, it’s the unsung heroes that I believe make our Scottish single cask program truly compelling. Benrinnes is just such a distillery. One of the many workhorses in Diageo’s stable, this Speysider is prized for its massive contribution to the final texture and profile of blends. While we’ve bottled many older expressions in the past that have showcased the distillery’s unique partial triple distillation technique, we thought it time to show off the younger, fresher side of Benrinnes. And this cask was the perfect way to do it. Distilled just after the move to a more traditional double distillation with two wash stills and four spirit stills in 2007, this is the first cask we’ve ever had on the new setup. It retains the distillery’s natural character, and it shows even more of the prized weight and creamy texture the rich malt is known for. The nose still opens with a full and rich expression you’d expect from older bottles, but quickly melds into something more honeyed, sweet, and vibrant than we are used to. This is the perfect opening note to a new era of Benrinnes and gives us the very affordable opportunity to sock away a piece of history, so we can watch it develop through future casks, which we will no doubt continue to love and bottle. Or you can forget all of that and just enjoy this beautiful and easy drinking dram at a mere 55 bucks.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 01, 2018

I couldn’t be happier with the first peek at a new distillation method at Benrinnes. This refilled hogshead immediately shows off some sweet spices with a zesty kick. It folds into brandied apples sprinkled with lemon zest and served on a bed of nutty granola. The palate delivers the richness that makes Benrinnes so enjoyable, even at the youthful age of 11, a clear sign they didn’t make any sacrifices in the change over at the distillery. It’s creamy and fresh, with a gentle herbal quality and an abundance of shortbread. This is a grand example of why whisky is so fun. While it’s easy to get excited about ancient age statements or ultra collectible rarities, it’s this kind of whisky that keeps me engaged every day. The workhorses that offer value, enjoyment, and a simple pleasure without costing a fortune are the whiskies I gravitate to in my casual drinking at home. This is the whisky I share with my close friends when I don’t need to impress anyone with the technical specs. Of course, it never hurts to look like you have a hidden gem!

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2006 Isle of Jura 12 Year Old “Old Particular” K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($64.99)

The Isle of Jura is one of those incredible malts that we almost never see in the wild. Partly that’s because they just don’t make that much whisky. But it does seem that the owners, Whyte & Mackay, don’t let go of the stuff very often. Isle of Jura has its following, but the little distillery on the sparsely populated island to the north of Islay isn’t a household name by any means. The island’s 200 inhabitants are vastly outnumbered by a massive population of red deer, who keep the island’s vegetation from growing beyond the lowest grasses. The infertile bog land that comprises most of the island gives the place an otherworldly feel. The distillery’s thick still necks create a rich, bold, oily spirit unlike any other in Scotland. They’ve been distilling there since 1810, but the current facility was built in 1963. The distillery bottlings tend to be slightly underwhelming due to the lower proofs, chill filtration, and oily profile. But when we see it offered barrel, we MUST taste. Sometimes we get lucky and find a true legend like this one. Cask strength, oily, rich, malty Jura in a second-fill oloroso sherry butt. Everything about it works. Add the ridiculously reasonable price and you’ve got one of the most exciting whiskies of the year.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 01, 2018

I absolutely fell in love with Jura on my last trip to Scotland in May. I didn’t travel to the island, although there is a spectacular view of the famous Paps of Jura from the new Ardnahoe distillery on Islay, which we did visit. I did, however, find myself ordering and drinking Jura in damn near every bar in Glasgow. At first, it was just because it was on a happy hour special at a couple of places. Then it quickly grew into a love affair seeking out odd one off casks in champion whisky bars like The Pot Still. While I found the 10yo, 18yo, and a few NAS to be lovely drams, the lightning really stuck me upon my first cask strength taste. When later in the trip we were offered the chance at this cask, after a quick nose, we had to take it. It’s sweet and salty at first blush, like a sliced apple sprinkled with a pinch of finely ground sea salt. Candied oranges and brandied pears find themselves paired perfectly with the dried fruit sweetness of the refilled sherry butt. The palate confirms what the nose knows. It also adds more baking spices, dates, and a dusting of powdered sugar. The final wave of sea salt laps against your palate, a gentle tide splashing your legs on a late summer day at the beach. Such is the beauty of unadulterated, full proof Jura.

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2010 Caol Ila 8 Year Old “Old Particular” K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($69.99)

We didn’t say no to a single Caol Ila cask this year. They’re too good and too reasonably priced. With the demand for Islay peat as high as it has ever been, the quality of these casks combined with sharp pricing was an absolute no-brainer. This Old Particular bottling is charged from a refill hogshead and, as always, bottled with no coloring or chill filtration. The meaty quality that we see in this year’s Sovereign cask of Caol Ila is tamed here, and while there is decidedly some richness of peat and decadent phenol components, this is really on the gentler side of Caol Ila. The fruit is more prominent than most of our other casks currently available. Tart cherries and blackberries mesh with salt and pepper and a bit of herbal spice. It’s wonderful at proof, but with a little water it just sings and sings. This is precisely the kind of bottle you don’t put down until it’s empty.

Jackson Lee | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: March 10, 2019

What a crazy offering from Caol Ila! First off, the color is an off-clear; I guess some would describe it as champagne, and it looks very pretty in the glass. The nose immediately emanated smoke, but had a sweet, summer melon tone underneath and a caramel note right as you tilt the glass to your lips. Tasting it made me feel like there was a cartoon scuffle going on in my mouth, with limbs briefly appearing out of a cloud of dust and the competitors vying for the win. Sweet oak notes and Fuji apple seemed to appear and recede just as quickly under the guise of smoke and what I can only imagine is a cask strength abv. The finish is looooooong and encapsulating, starting with a silkiness that quickly fades into a dry, grippy texture with a flourish of smoke that sticks to your tongue like campfire smoke to your clothes. A very fun and exciting dram that would probably play well with a few drops of water or a nice, clean cube.

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1995 Loch Lomond (“All Malt”) 22 Year Old “Old Particular” K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($89.99)

We have two amazing rarities from the reclusive Loch Lomond distillery this year. A unique facility, Loch Lomond makes every type of whisky they need for their blends in house. This means they operate a huge number of stills, multiple column stills and multiple pot stills. They make whisky in damn near every combination from heavily peated single malts to peat free malt and multiple varieties of grain whisky. This 22 year old is technically a single grain, but as grain whisky it can be made from any grain, this so happens to be made from malted barley. Think of this as a much, much older version of Nikka Coffey Malt. As fans of our extensive grain program know, when grain whisky gets over the two decade mark, it’s a whole new ballgame. The richness of time shows itself in what is otherwise a traditional blended whisky filler. Add to that the inherent complexity of malt as the grain for this cask and you’ve got fireworks. At first subtle, but building steadily into a crescendo of fruit, fudge, and spice, this is a sexy little number to add to your drinking portfolio.

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 13, 2018

Here is a weird one! I’ve never had a grain anything like this little puppy. The distillery, which has since changed hands, used to get in lots of trouble trying to sell this stuff as “pure malt” before the SWA banned the terminology. Now we’re the beneficiaries of those oddball experiments. The nose is filled with vibrant orchard fruit, much more expressive than most grain whiskies at this age. Subtle hints of green tea, toasted sour dough, vanilla wafers. The palate has tons of green apple, white pepper, sugar candies, and fresh herbs. A playful example of the interesting things that happen when you distill 100% malt mash on a column still!

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1988 North British 30 Year Old “Old Particular” K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($119.99)

A co-op of sorts, the North British distillery was founded in Edinburgh in 1885 by a group of gentlemen looking to break into the grain whisky business. At the time there was a virtual monopoly on grain production controlled by a company called DCL. North British found great success and has grown its production over the years due to the tremendous quality and quantity of their primarily maize or wheat distillate. The knock on effects of this enormous production are incredibly inexpensive, yet quite well aged stocks of premium grain whisky on the blending and independent bottling market. Something of a wheel house for K&L, we are always excited to bring great old grain into California whenever we can. Even if you don’t believe you’ve tasted North British before, you almost certainly have. It’s sweet grain whisky finds its way into such notable blends as Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, Chivas Regal, and J&B. In a great irony, these blends (and the North British distillery itself) are all owned by Edrington and Diageo, the direct outrgrowth and descendents of DCL; the company that North British was founded to compete with in the first place. No matter! The whisky is good, it’s inexpensive, it’s available, and it’s ready to drink!

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 14, 2019

The plethora of old grain in our portfolio at the moment shows just how much we think of these bottles. They offer some of the best value on the planet in the Brown Water category. I mean seriously, 30 year old cask strength whisky for a buck-twenty? In 2019?!? The NB30 bottle is decadent. It’s creamy, loaded with syrup, citrus peel, vanilla, and a bit of nougat. The finish flourishes with loads of sweet barrel spice. At 49.4% it’s almost too friendly.

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1987 Strathclyde 30 Year Old “Old Particular” K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($119.99)

What began as a neutral spirit facility in 1927 to produce buckets of gin has grown into one of the most successful grain whisky operations on the planet. Starting in ’57, it also discretely housed a malt facility going by the name of Kinclaith for nearly 20 years before being converted to focus exclusively on grain whisky. While historically some of the distillate would end up in Ballantine’s and Teacher’s blended whiskies, the distillery is owned today by Chivas Brothers. The grain production is wheat-based giving this 30 year old whisky an amazingly soft and creamy feel.

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: February 17, 2019

Strathclyde distillery is truly an urban entity. Sitting on the Clyde river just across from People’s Palace, it’s only a few ticks from central Glasgow. The industrial-looking fortress that is the Strathclyde distillery could be a new class of Star Fleet destroyer, but they’re still cranking out some pretty stellar grain at the plant. It seems to be slightly more prized than some of its cousins, perhaps thanks to the continued success of the popular Ballantine’s blend, but there’s no question that the quality of these whiskies is top tier. Expect unusual density and precision on the nose for a grain. Deep old wood, lemon cake, biscuits and Rolos. On the palate, some dense dried herbal qualities, almost like a pipe tobacco note balanced with sweet stone fruit in syrup and bright citrus peel. This is definitely moving slightly toward the malt category and should be a good crossover for skeptics.

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1982 Cambus 35 Year Old “Old Particular” K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($179.99)

The Cambus distillery is easily one of the best grains out there. The large facility just to the north of the River Forth has been converted to a cooperage and connects to Diageo’s the massive Blackgrange warehousing facility. That’s why it’s so tragic that Diageo mothballed the distillery in 1993. It’s right around 30 years of age that Cambus begins to take on a complexity that made the great old blends (like Johnnie Blue) so well loved across the world. This is absolutely decadent stuff. Grain whisky, which was once written off by aficionados, is becoming more accepted not only because you can find great old whiskies from closed distilleries for relatively affordable prices, but because sometimes you just don’t need the intensity of a single malt. When you’re craving something with depth and complexity, but don’t want necessarily want to get intellectual about it, grab the Cambus. You might not be inspired to write a dissertation, but you will have an unsurpassed drinking experience that’s all about pleasure. We’re moving toward the upper echelons with this one in terms of texture and complexity, but it remains full of sweet confectioner’s sugar and stewed fruit. No bitterness or harshness and the mouthfeel is voluptuous, nearly chewy in texture, with a length that few grains under 50 years old can match. Here is a whisky that you can literally give to almost anyone in any context and they’ll appreciate it. Easily one of the finest grains we’ll put out this year.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 01, 2018

It’s fair to say in the whisky world, that 35 years is old. Not a lot of juice hangs around that long, and what does make it through the long night, almost always finds itself at break of day to be worth a pretty penny. While not inexpensive, this incredible grain whisky from the long-closed Cambus distillery is decidedly an affordable luxury. It’s full bodied, soft and sleek, redolent of the sweet and syrupy canned fruits of childhood. It has a bit of an ancient aged bourbon quality to it, but without all the wood tannin, it’s so much softer than that. Instead, it’s the vanilla, caramel, and sweet wood spice of Kentucky’s finest. More tropical notes find their way to the surface the longer you hold the whisky in your attention. Banana bread, a bit of coconut milk, and sometimes a little kiwi spring forth. A singular single grain if we’ve ever bottled one.

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