Imagine this. Brett and his buddies go off to Scotland. They tour around for a while. Distilleries, warehouses, tasting rooms and all that. They take their time over a couple of weeks and find a good number of samples. Barrel proof samples.
Then he brings them back to Chicago and tells us that we have to taste them all. All in one punishing afternoon.
I know, it sounds like a dream job. But tasting 70 barrel proof Scotch samples has an effect on the palate similar to visiting an overcaffeinated dental hygienist who wants to make good use of her brand new scraper and gouger tool set.
With almost 70 samples to choose from, you know we found some great whisky. These eight are 2012 Binny’s Handpicked barrels, with a couple more surprises in the works.
1993 Signatory Bladnoch
The nose is lovely and delicate. Floral, lightly sweet with sherry notes. Vanilla, light butterscotch, apple and cucumber on the palate. For such a feminine spirit, this has a full body.
1997 Signatory Dailuaine
Complex and balancde. Powdered sugar, pear, some spirit on the nose. That kind of spiced Asian pear. Bright, focused, good vivid grip on the palate. A hint of mossy peat before a hot finish, with a cinnamon candy sharpness.
1991 Signatory Mortlach Olorosso Butt Finish
All malt and grain on the nose. This is classic Speyside. Rich malt, dark honey, burnt caramel. A big strong finish with hints of rye and peat. Powerful.
1998 Signatory Laphroaig
This is an interesting example of why oddball barrels end up at independent bottlers instead of getting included in a single malt. A light and delicate nose with grain and light peat doesn’t give away the surprise on the palate. Super sweet, with big weight and tropical fruit notes. Not exactly what you’d expect from Laphroaig, but delicious.
Kilchoman 1 Week Sherry Cask Finish
Light and fresh, youthful and fun, just like the Kilchoman you know and love. Plus something more? Granted, one week isn’t a long time. Some pepper, some caramel, a light dusting of cocoa. If the sherry did much, it’s subtle. We just couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
This new Handpicked Kilchoman aged in first fill Buffalo Trace wood. And it’s totally amazing. Light ham, full confectioner’s sugar, some green herbal freshness. Broad, spirited, full grain. Binny’s is going to have a ton of Kilchoman.
1997 Gordon & MacPhail Mannochmore
More classic Speyside with bright fruti, lots of malt and grains shining through on the nose. Intense honeysuckle on the palate leading to a straightforward finish. Great stuff.
1999 Gordon & MacPhail Glendullan
Clean and fresh on the nose, with lemon candy, pear and spice. Sharp green vegetal notes on the palate with candied fruits. Bright and fresh whisky.
Final bottlings should arrive … I dunno … sometime in the fall? Hat tip to Ross Macfarquhar for help with the tasting notes. We agree more often than not.