K&L Standard-Bearers: Go-To Staples to Stock Up On – Whisky News

K&L Standard-Bearers: Go-To Staples to Stock Up On

At the heart of it, we want to elevate your spirits experience at every level. While many focus on the unparalleled collectibles that are increasingly tough to find, sometimes the most rewarding purchase can be that everyday bourbon that far over-delivers for a modest price. This is exactly what you’ll find in the K&L favorites below, whether it be our pound-for-pound best value Scotch in Faultline and a Couvreur’s unforgettable “Peaty Overaged.”

Faultline Blended Scotch Whisky (750ml) $24.99 View

For years, we’d dreamed of creating an inexpensive, delicious, value-driven, yet simultaneously interesting expression of blended Scotch whisky that we could feature under our Faultline label. There were many times when we thought we were close, but either the quality of the whisky or the cost of the barrels proved prohibitive. We didn’t want to make a $25 bottle of whisky just for the sake of it. If we were going to do it, then we were going to it right. Finally, after working on and off with the Laings for a year-long blending process, we hammered out a profile we were happy with. Big smoke, Ardbeg-like peat flavors, and a kiss of sweet grain was our goal and we definitely achieved it in this bottle. Unlike most big brand blends, there are no coloring agents in the Faultline Scotch, just a pale straw-colored liquid that bursts with character and, due to the heavy malt content, finishes with richness and weight. We wanted to make sure that, upon launch, there would be absolutely nothing on the market that could match the quality of flavor, price, beauty of design, and bang for the buck. Now after proving that we could do it, we’ve recreated our original blend. Just like the first batch for $25 you get one helluva bottle of Scotch. Smokier than Johnnie Black, more complex than Chivas, and less expensive than either. Plus, at an assertive 100 proof you can try it in a cocktail, pour it over ice, add in soda water and not worry about it. This is the real deal.

St. George “Baller” Single Malt Whiskey (750ml) (Previously $70) $49.99 View

Whisky Advocate

Outer quote mark Hugely floral and perfumed on the nose, with rose petals, violet candies, and dried orange peel. This is the Gewürztraminer of American single malts—sweet lychee, laced with sachet aromas that explode as if opening Grandma’s dresser drawer. The palate is more tropical; dried pineapple, canned peach syrup, and spice. This could be polarizing, but it’s utterly captivating and worth a try. (JL, Fall 2017) Inner quote mark

K&L Notes

St. George’s new single malt release is described by Master Distiller Lance Winters as a California take on Japanese Malt. Initially aged in used bourbon and French oak barrels for 3-4 years, then finished in St. George Ume plum liqueur barrels. The result is an absolutely unique twist on the American single malt, namely that is was designed specifically to be drunk in highballs—Tokyo style. Of course it is ultra-limited, so grab it while you can.

Doc Swinson’s “Alter Ego” Triple Cask Sherry & Cognac Finished Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml) $59.99 View

The Doc Swinson Alter Ego is the result of many years of experimentation with cask finishing at the Doc Swinson facility in Washington state. They’ve found the winning recipe with this exceptional product. Using a blend of two straight bourbons distilled at MGPI in Indiana, Doc’s has crafted this deftly balanced bourbon to revival any of the new bourbon brands on the market today. The two bourbons (one a high 21% rye and the other a very high 36% rye masbill) are each aged 5-6 years in new charred American oak before being blended and finished in three specially selected casks types. Using two distinct types of Sherry Butts (PX & Oloroso) and fresh Cognac Puncheons the bourbons are rested for an additional 3 months before being blended and married for another month in Cognac foeders. The Sherry Butts come from Montilla-Moriles Spain where their Sherry Solera Pyramids date back to the 1920’s, on a dry oxidized style Oloroso, the other a rich tangy sweet Pedro Ximinez style. Bottled at an invigorating 94.4 proof this lovely whisky is one of the most drinkable on the shelf today.

Suntory “Hibiki Japanese Harmony” Blended Japanese Whisky (750ml) $74.99 View

91 points Wine Enthusiast

Outer quote mark The newest blended whisky offering from Hibiki is burnished gold in the glass and has a bold aroma that mixes vanilla, fresh pear and a hint of smoke. The smokiness comes forward at the first sip, wrapping around a core of oak and vanilla custard and finishing long, with a mouthwatering bitter chocolate note. *Best of 2016* (KN) Inner quote mark (3/2016)

90 points Whisky Advocate

Outer quote mark Poised and complex, with typically lifted fruitiness: strawberry ice cream, pineapple, peach, balanced by delicate oak, bamboo shoot-like delicacy, then lemon. The palate is more rounded than that very forward nose, with toffee notes adding some weight. A touch of smoke comes along in the mid-palate, before fruits and caramelized coffee biscuits. Water allows the flavors to flood the palate. Exemplary blending skills and classically Hibiki. (DB, Winter 2015) Inner quote mark (12/2015)

Wine & Spirits

Outer quote mark You can’t be a Japanese whisky enthusiast without having noticed that there’s a shortage of the stuff. What once was readily available is now hard to find. What once was affordable now costs various bodily limbs. It is due to more than a fad. The best Japanese whisky is remarkable stuff, and none are better than the top single malts from Suntory, Yamazaki, Hakushu and the blended whisky Hibiki. Hibiki comes in 12-, 17- and 21-year-old expressions, but even the youngest of these is now allocated. Harmony, the newest release, carries no age statement, indicating that it contains younger whiskies than other bottlings. Nevertheless, this is a welcome concession, with Suntory’s classic sense of balance, nuance and delicacy. *Best of 2015* (JM) Inner quote mark (11/2015)

K&L Notes

*96 points, Ultimate Spirits Challenge Top 100 of 2020* The newest incarnation of Suntory’s hugely popular Hibiki series, this time without an age statement attached. The same soft, mellow, vanilla-laden flavor is still here, however. It’s a true harmony of pure Hibiki flavor.

Michel Couvreur “Peaty Overaged” K&L Exclusive Malt Whisky (750ml) $79.99 View

The chance to work with Michel Couvreur on a special K&L whisky project was something that David and I had been dreaming of for years. We had heard the stories. This crazy Belgian had moved to Burgundy in the ’60s, carved out a wine cellar inside a mountain, only to fill it with Scottish single malt whisky instead of Pinot Noir. He set up camp in Beaune, ordered new-make spirit to be delivered by tanker, and drove down to Jerez himself, selecting his own sherry butts to ensure the finest quality casks for his contracted spirit. Unfortunately, Michel Couvreur passed away in 2013 from pancreatic cancer, thus ending the career of one of the industry’s most courageous pioneers. Luckily for us, however, apprentice Jean-Arnaud has carried on after studying under Michel for more than a decade. When we visited the underground cave, we were all in total awe. The tunnels of dripping stone go on forever, and the amount of whisky stored in this secret lair is jawdropping. We put our trust completely in Jean-Arnaud and are happy we did. Our peated version of the incredible sherry expression is a seamless creation that drinks like the best version of Johnnie Black ever, mixed with the most supple and soft expressions of Macallan. It’s a lush, unfiltered, creamy, caramel-laden dream of a whisky composed only of malts 12 years and older. There’s a bit of peat on the finish, but the soft sherry is the star. (NOTE: do NOT cut the hard wax seal, use a wine opener to go through it).

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