K&L California Top Whisky Picks January 2020 – Whisky News

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof “Batch C919” Kentucky Bourbon (750ml) ($59.99)

4.5/5 points, John Dover in thewhiskywash.com: “Stimulating the palate and the mind, Elijah Craig has crafted a spicy sipper that will awaken the drinker to the punchier side of the bourbon spectrum with its Barrel Proof distilling. Go in prepared and you will be rewarded with a refined drinking experience lodged firmly in the traditions that make bourbon the drink of choice for so many.” (12/2019)

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 09, 2020

C919 compared to B519 is an absolute monster. Tipping the scales at 136.8 proof it’s the highest proof Elijah Craig we’ve seen in over 3 years. The nose is full of spice box, petrichor, savory spices, thyme, fresh sliced green apples, and the sweeter notes of butter, cream and heavy caramel. It shares some aromatics with B519 that remind me of a cooperage – full of toasting oak – rather than a lumber yard of fresh sawn wood. The palate is an absolute beast. Packed with dark cocoa powder and sweeter milk chocolates. When you add in water drop by drop each splash looks like it’s creating an oil slick as the fat texture of the whisky comes crashing out of solution. The wood profile changes into more of a barrel house and a summer farmers market. The finish is essentially endless. If you want to tame this one, add lots of water. If you love your bourbon to be confrontational and maybe bite you back, leave it alone and enjoy the ride.

Stefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 09, 2020

This is the ultimate style of rich, silky smooth Bourbon with a pretty hefty kick of heat amplified by the barrel proof nature. Strong dark chocolate, clove, and coffee grounds prevail in this bottling, whereas the B519 has more of a sweet cream taste. A powerhouse whiskey like this at 12 years is a steal at $60. I guess the 200+ years of experience making Bourbon has given Elijah Craig the edge.

1998 Orkney (Highland Park) 20 Year Old “Thompson Bros.” K&L Exclusive Single Refill Hogshead Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($149.99)

The wonderful Dornoch Distillery sits hidden on the main drag in the tiny town of Dornoch. Behind the majestic Dornoch Castle Hotel and its famous whisky bar sits one of Scotland’s tiniest and most exciting distilleries. Founded by brothers Simon and Phil, the distillery is completely contained in one tiny stone shed. While the brothers might not have the resources and capital of many of Scotland’s new distilleries, they do have an incredible vision and the unwavering support of the single malt-loving community. In that little shed a truly unique experiment is underway. The Thompsons are trying to make whisky the old way. The distillery was funded without any outside investment and pre-sales of the first casks were crowd sourced online. The contrast between extreme forward thinking and commitment to tradition makes the Dornoch Distillery one of Scotland’s most exciting new distillers bar none. We’ve got years before their malt is ready to go and in the meantime the brothers are distilling and selling an incredible malted gin and trafficking in some seriously delicious single casks. This HP is part of the great wave of unnamed Orkney that’s hit the market recently. They nabbed some of the very best and somehow offer it up at a reasonable price. Other bottlers offer versions of the same whisky for twice this price and none we’ve had taste as good as this. It’s got everything, balanced excellently. Delicate Orkney peat, bold malt, gorgeous maritime quality—a real island dream.

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 10, 2019

We’ve had some up and downs with Highland Park recently. We’ve secured some incredible old stock with the distillery name on it, but also had offers for no named stuff at ridiculously high prices. Needless to say we’re always game from some HP. It’s really one of the very best distilleries out there and these incredible ‘no name’ bottlings have been some of the very best values on the market today. Yet some of our suppliers feel comfortable charging well above what another no name might cost from another distillery. Of course, they’re looking at this like a business opportunity. They have high quality juice, that can be implied to be from one of Scotland’s great distilleries, and most people are probably willing to pay it, but we’ve mostly avoided these offerings since we’ve been securing ‘named’ versions in the $250-300 range consistently for the last two seasons. It wouldn’t make any sense for us to sell a similar product no name for the same price. These products must offer value. So we’ve generally passed on several casks due to the very high prices. But now it seems our supply of distillery bottlings is becoming more and more scarce. We had to say no to a 21 year old Hogshead this year from Old Particular due to the incredibly high price. And at the same time, our friends in Dornoch came knocking with this stunner. The fun labels poke fun at the new aggressive viking style of the distillery bottlings, but do nothing to prepare you for the awesomeness that’s inside the bottle. The nose is the ultimate coastal curiosity: Salty sea spray, coastal shrubs, crushed rocks, smoldering heather, floral peat, golden honey, ripe pears. Craggy rocks being battered by the ocean. Lots and lots going on, extremely layered and complex, but not brutish or explosive. One the palate the brown butter, wild honey, stewed grains, more peat. This is how I imagine gold tastes when it’s melted. More minerals more smoke, but not hard smoke. Soft sweet smoke. We’re not seeing anything on the market anywhere close to this caliber in this style. Nearly perfect.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 23, 2019

HP20 is going to be delicious no matter what. At 150 bucks, it’s all the sweeter. This number is particularly interesting as it is a hogshead filled from same day vattings before it was sold off onto the independent market – a number of these casks have come up as Edrington has divested stocks, rumor has it, to pay for the budget sucking massive new Macallan distillery. It’s classically salty and has that beautiful medium intensity heather driven peat that the distillery is known for, although it shows most on the finish and not up front. Apricots and other stone fruits in varying levels of dehydration play across the entire experience from nose to palate and intermix beautifully with the floral smoke on the finish. Coming in at an even 50% ABV at cask strength, it’s a very sippable whisky neat. With a touch of water the oils come crashing out of solution as do the grain notes. The aromas suddenly explode with honeyed barley and a whole new drinking experience begins. An extremely good first showing from our new partners in Sutherland, the Thompson Brothers.

Jackson Lee | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 13, 2019

I cant tell if the stick figure on the bottle is going into battle or partying but either way, its capturing what Im getting from this unique Orkney single malt. I dig the label and I dig the juice. The nose gives off a pretty perfume of baked Bartlett pear, cinnamon, vanilla, toasted marshmallow, and sassafras. The palate provides that same baked pear profile combined with chocolate covered toffee with a full-bodied texture. The finish leaves you with a nice, spicy tingling sensation on the tip of the tongue with spicy cinnamon notes and as I begin to regain feeling a subtle juicy pear jelly belly note clings as the breath escapes. This is the kind of scotch I could see myself drinking all day in a ski lodge surrounded by friends.

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