The Whiskey Hotline: Scouring the World for the Most Interesting & Unique Barrels of Spirits
The Whiskey Hotline team is on a never ending mission. Scotland, Taiwan, Washington, Tennessee, Kentucky..., wherever there's good spirits to be found, we'll find the best of it and bring it to you at the best price we can.
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Single malt Scotch fans, rejoice! After much delay our latest round of handpicked, single cask selections have finally arrived at your local Binny’s. We’ve been doing this for over 20 years and can hardly recall when we were able to offer this kind of variety at a single time. Staoisha (heavily peated Bunnahabhain) continues to impress us with maturity and intensity rarely found in younger whiskies. We’ve consistently found excellent casks of Mortlach and Craigellachie, both big, brooding malts and Hotline favorites, and this year’s are as good as ever. Mannochmore makes a return after several years, a workhorse Diageo distillery is otherwise unavailable in the States. Sherry lovers, we haven’t forgotten about you. We have Benromach, Glenlivet and a 25 year old Tamdhu that have all seen heavy sherry cask aging and are absolutely stunning on the eyes and the palate. Like all single casks, quantities are limited and vary by store.
Signatory Staoisha (Heavily Peated Bunnahabhain) 7 year old Dechar Rechar Hogshead #10770 Binny's Handpicked
Earthy and robust with waves of dry cured bacon, smoked ham, caramel coated figs, milk chocolate-toffee, vanilla bean, stewed plum, and raisin compote in the action packed nose. On the palate, smoked meat and earthy peat sit up front with oak spice as dark stewed fruits, caramel, and vanilla beans percolate. The finish is long and chewy with ribbons of smoke persisting as a wave of spice gives way to long-lasting sweet smoke, chewy malt and fruit compote. Glorious whisky for sipping.
On the nose lemon cake and red currant jam with vanilla blossom and a dusting of white pepper and freshly ground clove. On the palate red currant and lemon cake persist with spice surging underneath buttressed by a bed of rich toffee. The finish is balanced and nicely layered with dark fruits and caramel flavors fading slowly with oak. A refined yet decadent beast from Dufftown.
Quite the layered nose on this Craigellachie with notes of blackberry muffin, baked pears, vanilla cream, caramel-toffee, dry cured meat and mild oak spice. On the palate fruit pastry notes persist with a river of caramel and vanilla intensifying alongside cardamom, clove, and anise. The finish is round and wonderfully layered with sweet and spice dancing back and forth into the distance. A rich malt with a sturdy backbone displaying both finesse and muscle.
This week we’re pleased to welcome the single malts of the Tamnavulin distillery to the shelves, a true hidden gem from Speyside. Tamnavulin sits along the banks of the River Livet where it has quietly produced malt whisky for various Whyte & Mackay blends for decades, but its availability as a single malt in the United States was relegated to the efforts of independent bottlers and malt whisky enthusiasts. It’s an approachable spirit with malt and toffee notes and plenty of fruity character. These are classic Speyside whiskies at throwback pricing, a breath of fresh air in a Scotch market that has seen prices continually rise.
A layered nose with waves of baked pear, milk chocolate, toffee, cinnamon candies, nutmeg, and vanilla wafer. On the palate American oak maturation provides ample lush vanilla notes with the expected orchard fruit and caramel with sherry finishing adding raisin and plum to the mix with milk chocolate. The finish is long and layered with a soft wave of oak spice fading into long-lasting dried fruit and cinnamon.
A classic sherried delight, perfect for a daily dram. Notably more sherry influence here with dried figs, orange marmalade, ginger and stewed plums on the nose. On the palate the sherry influence is evident but not overpowering as plum and raisin flavors intertwine with subtle waves of oak spice, nectarine and toffee. The finish is long and chewy with dark stewed fruits and clove persisting alongside caramel cream and pluots.
Breaking with standard practice, this Tamnavulin is finished in sauvignon blanc casks. The minerality and citrus flavors of the clean and crisp wine complement this malt perfectly. On the nose crisp apple and fresh citrus lead on a bed of vanilla cream, along with caramel crisps, and pleasant amounts of oak spice. On the palate crisp citrus and more fresh apple notes with a spike of spicy cinnamon sticks underneath with caramel and vanilla flavors supporting. The finish is pleasant and easy with sweet and spice fading into the distance together.
A Speyside for wine lovers. On the nose peach cobbler and caramel-nut-toffee, vinous grape, plum blossoms with waves of cardamom, poached pear and clove with a pinch of black peppercorn. On the palate peach and pear compote surge with honey drizzled fig and Christmas cake with an undercurrent of brambleberry jam. The finish is layered and decadent with expressive berry and pear tart flavors.
Balvenie’s legendary 15 year old, always bottled from single sherry casks, is the stuff of malt whisky legend. These sherry butts are exclusively made from heavily toasted European oak and are bottled non-chillfiltered at 47.8% abv. As older stocks have become extremely limited, this once always available expression has moved to limited status but is now back in stock but only for a limited time. If you’re looking for a single malt to share and sip this upcoming season grab one of these while you can.
Our latest round of handpicked single barrels from Smooth Ambler’s Old Scout line is now in stock at your local Binny’s. Aged 6+ years and bottled at cask strength, these barrels are all full-bodied and chewy bourbons with rich oak notes and plenty of bright fruit to balance them out. At $49.99 these also offer exceptional value and deserve a place in the cabinet of any collector. At cask strength these barrels are limited and selection varies by store.
No mistaking the finish here, this nose is absolutely loaded with juicy apricot and vanilla with a faint spice in the background. The oak plays a larger role on the palate as peppery spice and cinnamon slowly creep in giving balance to all of the apricot, peach, cherry and dessert-like vanilla and caramel notes. The juicy apricot is again in charge on the finish before vanilla candies, toffee, honey and dried cherries slowly creep in. A fantastic bourbon with surprising complexity.
A decadent nose with notes of jellied pear on caramel wafer, cinnamon-toffee, milk chocolate, and vanilla bean. Soft and coating on the palate, more spice slowly creeps in before a return to the dessert like notes promised on the nose. The finish is lush and chewy with pear and chocolate flavors outlasting a slow wave of cardamom and clove. Balanced and easy.
Densely layered nose with rich waves of caramel and vanilla cream up front, with baked pear and apricot, caramel-toffee, and oak spice following. On the palate, pear and apricot are again in charge with milk chocolate as butter-toffee, vanilla cream, and oak spice support. The finish is long and richly textured with chocolate and spicy cardamom outlasting sweeter elements. Absolutely gorgeous, a showstopper of a whiskey.
A dangerously drinkable delight. Baked pear tart spiked with cinnamon bark and clove, topped with caramel candies, chocolate-toffee, and a honey stick on the lively nose. Round and soft on the palate with a notable warm and pleasant spike of spicy cinnamon but still keeping the layers of honey and toffee. The finish is long and layered with a warming level of spice giving way slowly to sweeter chocolate, vanilla, and pear flavors.
Once-a-year limited releases from two of our favorite Scotch whisky distillers have just arrived. The annual Cairdeas release from Laphroaig has long been a collector favorite, and this year’s hails from a Laphroaig landmark, Warehouse 1. This warehouse is only a few steps from the seashore, allowing the whiskies to soak up the distillery’s famous maritime character. Also from an island, but on the opposite end of Scotland, comes Highland Park’s newest cask strength release. This third edition in the series saw a larger percentage of European oak sherry casks in the maturation, as well as more of the distillery’s own malted barley, adding layers of dark fruit and smoke.
Heavy use of first-fill sherry casks gives this a classic Highland Park character, and the amped up peat smoke adds some lovely balance and complexity that takes this to the next level. On the nose buttery malt intertwines perfectly with honeyed plum, chocolate-fig, cinnamon raisins, and earthy, herbaceous peat with a subtle smoke. Brighter fruits emerge on the palate with red berry and peach before plum intensifies as a wave of spicy cardamom and clove, figs and caramel candy folds in. The finish is layered and lengthy with buttery malt and rich dried fruits persisting with a touch of earth and cocoa. We expect a lot from cask strength and non-chillfiltered whiskies from our favorite Orkney distiller, but this exceeds expectations.
Matured in first-fill Maker’s Mark barrels, this release really lets the Laphroaig distillate do the talking. Lemon grass, spicy peat, and caramel-toffee candy sit alongside burning embers, poached pear, vanilla blossoms and black peppercorn with classic Laphroaig medicinal elements intermingling in the densely aromatic nose of this new Cairdeas. On the palate, the peat is tamed a touch and becomes earthier as caramel, poached pear, and vanilla provide a very lush and supple backbone. The bourbon casks certainly have added a touch of sweet balance to the mighty Laphroaig. The finish is easy and friendly with burning embers apparent but not overwhelming as sweeter elements fade in harmony with peat and a medicinal tang. This is about as approachable as Laphroaig gets, even at the higher 104.4 proof.
An entrancing nose of rich cold brew, honeyed agave, citrus oil, dark red berries and a bit of toffee under it all. Baking spices emerge on the palate as nutmeg and cocoa powder lend balance to the sweet agave and slightly acidic coffee profile before the gentlest hint of smoke arrives. The finish is lightly sweet, layered with dark fruits and a small wave of mezcal driven smoke, all supporting gorgeous layers of dark coffee. A fun change-of-pace from Mr. Black, and a natural partner for hot chocolate cocktails this coming Fall.
The first release in Teeling’s new “Wonders of Wood” limited series is now in stock. Wonders of Wood will explore whiskey maturation in casks uncommonly or never-before used in Irish whiskey. This first release is a single pot still style, distilled from a mash of 50% malted and 50% unmalted barley, and aged entirely in virgin American oak casks. But not the usual white oak, these were all made from chinkapin oak, quercus muehlenbergii. Chinkapin oak’s effects on whiskey are still being debated, but many distillers love it for the often richer profile it gives, lending more caramel and toffee notes as well as some nuttiness to the whiskey. We’re not usually fans of malt whiskies aged in new wood, but the results here are pleasantly surprising, and we’re happy to be wrong about some of our preconceived notions.
The nose is pleasant and enticing with plenty of layers to contemplate. Gingerbread topped with ripe banana, dried pear, caramel candy, vanilla blossom, walnut bread, and toasted oak spice. Plenty of oak notes for sure but the unmistakable fruitiness of Irish whiskey is still there. Banana nut bread on the palate, with an array of baking spices, caramel apples, milk chocolate drizzled toffee and a slight hint of mint. The finish is equally interesting and layered as flavors found on the nose and palate give way to a persistent wave of savory toasted oak and rich toffee. A fat and full-bodied Irish whiskey at a barely perceptible 100 proof.
The dog days of summer have us reaching for refreshing agave spirits. There’s a wide range of flavors to explore in the category ranging from fruity to earthy to peppery that can enhance in cocktails both savory and sweet. Of course, it isn’t always tequila we love. Mezcal has long been a favorite for its nuance and complexity. No longer the new kid on the block, mezcal’s popularity has exploded as more and more lovers of fine libations have found rewarding drinking experiences. No matter what type of agave spirit you crave, here are a few of our favorite new bottles.
An ensamble of espadin and tobala, highlighting loads of ripe fruit, but it then goes through a third distillation with fruit added to the still. Fresh citrus, honey, peppers and a savory herbal note intermingle in the nose. The palate explodes with fruit as tropical melon and pineapple are balanced by citrus oil, mint and pepper. The finish is soft and enduring with a hint of smoke and baking spice.
A lively and flavor-packed reposado that highlights an array of fruit over oak. Citrus peel, lemon oil and honeyed agave on the nose. Full bodied on the palate with sweet cooked agave, lemon-lime, cinnamon and pepper. A soft and supple reposado that is perfect for sipping.
Light tropical fruit notes, a touch of ripe citrus and soft honeyed agave greet the nose. Rich agave nectar initially on the palate with a wash of vanilla and lime before soft pepper and cinnamon slowly build in intensity. Light, fresh and slightly fruity finish. This is a top tier blanco at home on the rocks or in your favorite cocktail.
Another blend of espadin and tobala agaves, combining the bright and tropical fruit from the espadin with richer and earthier tobala. Herbal, grassy and a bit smokey on the nose. Citrus, especially grapefruit, emerges on the palate with some tropical agave notes before earthy smoke returns in the long finish. A fantastic mezcal that outperforms its price point.
This blanco leans into the crisp and clean side of the tequila spectrum. Fresh agave, lemon oil, green apple and a bit of pepper on the nose. Gently sweet agave on the palate initially followed by citrus, orchard fruit, and pepper with a zippy minerality in the finish.
Del Maguey’s Vida has been THE essential cocktail mezcal for years. Fruit, honey, vanilla and roasted agave are balanced by baking spices, cinnamon, ginger and tropical fruit notes with a long, citrus-laden finish. Perfection in a paloma and bright and refreshing in a negroni.
An elegant, refined and traditional anejo. The fruit and oak are in balanced harmony on the nose with vanilla, ripe apples, caramel and citrus zest. Juicy red fruits arrive on the palate but it quickly turns toward the richer oak notes balanced by herbal and peppery agave. Sweet, spicy and nutty oak in the finish with a flourish of sweet vanilla and honey. A whiskey drinker’s tequila for certain.
Don’t let the big name fool you, this is hands down one of the best anejo tequilas around. Rich cooked agave on the nose with raw honey, lime zest and vanilla candy. Oak is in charge on the palate with sweet vanilla, caramel candies, honeyed granola and cooked agave. The finish continues the oak parade with loads of caramelized agave and vanilla. Aged in bourbon casks and finished in ex-Irish whiskey casks, giving some interesting malt sweetness not usually found in tequila.
Introducing the newest member of our Clark & Sheffield family, Small Batch Bourbon. Clark & Sheffield Small Batch bourbon hails from Sazerac’s Bardstown, KY distillery and is 5 years old and 90 proof. A versatile whiskey equally at home on the rocks or in your favorite cocktail and is maybe the best deal in our ever-expanding bourbon aisle. A gentle and flavorful sipper, and a full flavored but budget priced mixer, this bourbon does it all.
Cherries, brown sugar, pepper and vanilla are all layered throughout the robust nose. The soft and round palate brings a touch more sweetness with strong vanilla, caramelized sugars and sweet corn. Cinnamon and clove build gradually giving balance to the sweeter flavors throughout the long finish.