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Whisk(e)y News: Featuring A Trio of Sovereign Bottlings for the Holidays - 12/19/2017 - Single Malt Scotch

It's that time of the year again; the lead up to the Christmas season when I like to do a special whisky offer in a trio. In the past it's been Four Roses barrels (the three gifts of the magi), but for 2017 I'm bringing you three very special barrels using code names to hide their true identities. In order to understand the secret contained inside each very special Sovereign bottle, you have to understand a bit about how the Scotch industry works and what teaspooning means. There’s a long history of barrel trading and brokering between blenders and distilleries in Scotland, and some producers are very protective of their name brand. As you’ve likely noticed, we’ve been able to secure single cask selections from top names like Bowmore, Caol Ila, and Highland Park over the years, and those distilleries allow us to use the name, but others take more drastic measures. By adding a teaspoon of a second single malt whisky into the barrel, the whisky instantly becomes a blended malt rather than a single malt, rendering the labeling of that whisky as a single distillery illegal. Hence, all these whiskies say “Blended Malt” rather than “Single Malt” and we’ve used code names to refer to each edition.

Vintage Item Name Score Qty Retail Link
1997 Hector Macbeth 20 Year Old "K&L Exclusive - Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) >36 $99.99 View
1995 John McCrae 22 Year Old "K&L Exclusive - Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) >36 $99.99 View
2006 William Hepburn 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (750ml) >36 $49.99 View


1997 Hector Macbeth 20 Year Old "K&L Exclusive - Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($99.99)

In order to understand the secret contained inside this very special Sovereign bottle, you have to understand a bit about how the Scotch industry works and what teaspooning means. There’s a long history of barrel trading and brokering between blenders and distilleries in Scotland, and some producers are very protective of their name brand. As you’ve likely noticed, we’ve been able to secure single cask selections from top names like Bowmore, Caol Ila, and Highland Park over the years, and those distilleries allow us to use the name, but others take more drastic measures. By adding a teaspoon of a second single malt whisky into the barrel, the whisky instantly becomes a blended malt rather than a single malt, rendering the labeling of that whisky as a single distillery illegal. This 20 year old Hector MacBeth single barrel comes from one of the Grant family's famous Glens and it only takes one sip of this rich, supple, and oak-laden whisky to instantly recognize that classic profile. While the 21 year old distillery version of this whisky will run you $150 or more, this cask strength, single barrel 20 year old release offers a serious bang for your buck proposition in exchange for the anonymity. The initial flavors are oily with vanilla and sweet resin and brandied peaches, moving quickly into concentrated oak, toasted barley, and creme brulee. The finish is dry and spicy and at 56.4% the heat is on! There's no three-sided tin with this bold edition, just superb value!

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 16, 2017

This single barrel has a beautiful golden color. The nose is complex with honey, wax and floral notes. In the mouth its is full bodied and concentrated, packed full of many flavor nuances. This selection has a lot going on. There is no smoke. I tasted this with a touch of water.

Staff ImageAndrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 12, 2017

If you're not excited by the value proposition of a teaspooned cask - read David's explanation and you will be. The Hector Macbeth is a home run. I found it surprisingly salty on the nose with a touch of pretty and fresh herbs. The mouth is rich and velvety, loaded with baked bread, cinnamon, and apples. It's basically an American Apple Pie in a scotch. There is a little sandalwood on the finish which is long and full. This is an absurdly good deal.

1995 John McCrae 22 Year Old "K&L Exclusive - Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($99.99)

In order to understand the secret contained inside this very special Sovereign bottle, you have to understand a bit about how the Scotch industry works and what "teaspooning" means. There’s a long history of barrel trading and brokering between blenders and distilleries in Scotland, and some producers are very protective of their name brand. As you’ve likely noticed, we’ve been able to secure single-cask selections from top names like Bowmore, Caol Ila, and Highland Park over the years, and those distilleries allow us to use the name, but others take more drastic measures. By adding a teaspoon of a second single-malt whisky into the barrel, the whisky instantly becomes a "blended malt" rather than a single malt, rendering the labeling of that whisky as a single distillery illegal. For that reason, we can’t call the whisky by its name or reveal where it was made, but we can give you a few hints! This round, luscious, soft-textured 22-year-old malt whisky is from Scotland’s Speyside region, made at a very famous distillery renowned for its doublewood expressions and its famed wooden blending vats, sometimes referred to as tuns. While there’s no sherry maturation in this single hogshead, this whisky is grace and elegance defined: golden grains, supple vanilla, richly-textured stone fruit, and generous oak on the finish. Independent casks from this distillery are almost never available, making this John McCrae a true rarity for those in the know.

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 16, 2017

This single barrel has a lot to offer.It has a wax and floral nose that is absolutely pretty. In the mouth it is pure ,soft and direct with nice malt flavors and a very subtle hint of spice. There is a long finish. It is hard not to like. I tasted this with a touch of water.

Staff ImageAndrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 12, 2017

This struck me as my favorite of the 3 new Sovereign casks. It's lovely, rich, clean, and bright. There is an easy fruitiness full of apples and stone fruits. The spices lean towards the baking type, not peppery or savory. The palate is creamy and smooth, almost like a caramelized marshmallow. The finish is long and clean. All in all a special cask of whisky.

2006 William Hepburn 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (750ml) ($49.99)

In order to understand the secret contained inside this very special Sovereign bottle, you have to understand a bit about how the Scotch industry works and what teaspooning means. There’s a long history of barrel trading and brokering between blenders and distilleries in Scotland, and some producers are very protective of their name brand. As you’ve likely noticed, we’ve been able to secure single cask selections from top names like Bowmore, Caol Ila, and Highland Park over the years, and those distilleries allow us to use the name, but others take more drastic measures. By adding a teaspoon of a second single malt whisky into the barrel, the whisky instantly becomes a blended malt rather than a single malt, rendering the labeling of that whisky as a single distillery illegal. This 11 year old William Hepburn comes from a distillery in the Speyside known for its sherry matured 12 year and 18 year old editions, as well as its Fine Oak collection. While recently offering up a Classic Cut higher proof edition, rarely do we see non-sherried editions of this whisky at full proof. Despite the 56.9% ABV, the renowned elegance of this distillery shines through here with soft stone fruits (pears and nectarines), supple vanilla, and creamy malt flavor highlighted with oak spices on the finish. Highland whisky fans will be thrilled with the bolder, more concentrated edition of a classic profile. Fans of the big Mac will rejoice, snagging a serious discount with this teaspooned edition.

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 16, 2017

This selection is bright and lively.The nose is pretty and inviting. In the mouth it is juicy, round and soft.It is a very easy to enjoy and should appeal to many people. There is a beautiful balance and no smoke flavors. I tasted this with a splash of water.