Off-the-Beaten-Path Single Malt Exclusives—Auchroisk and Balmenach at K&L California – Scotch Whisky News

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While Auchroisk and Balmenach might not be the most familiar names in Scotch, that certainly doesn’t mean that they aren’t producing world-class bottlings. Quite to the contrary, they are quietly producing some of the most compelling bottlings in the market. When we originally tasted this pair in Scotland, we were immediately struck by how perfectly composed they were. These are real sleepers that more than deserve their place in the spotlight. The Auchroisk is the perfect pick for those who like their single malts heavy and rich. A Speysider through and through, it is both tropical and spicy with impeccable balance. It’s little wonder this has earned such a devoted cult following. The Balmenach is every bit as compelling, serving up a heady, complex, and wild ride. Malty and rich, but not without its subtle moments, it is sure to become an instant favorite for many. Both are unbelievable values, selling for a fraction of what you’d expect given their pedigree. If you are looking to expand your -drinking horizons, these are well worth the visit.

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2006 Balmenach 11 Year Old “Old Particular” KL Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($54.99)

The Balmenach Distillery is one of Speyside’s oldest. Originally licensed to James McGregor in 1824, it was likely running illicitly for years before. The distillery sits hidden behind Lethendry hill right on the banks of the river Spey outside the town of Cromdale. The distillery has changed hands many times over the last two centuries and was mothballed on occasion as well. In 1997, the distillery was sold to its current owners, Inver House, which also sells the Balblair, Old Pultney, Knockdhu, and Speyburn whiskies. All of those brands have taken center stage over the last decade or so, while the distillery in Cromdale remains more or less unknown to the outside world. Save for a few old Flora Fauna official bottlings, the Balmenach name is not really marketed, and the distillery produces primarily for blending. While the distillery isn’t particularly architectural, the stark white buildings on the green landscape can be quite beautiful. Equally beautiful is the fine coming out of the six pot stills on site. The distillery continues to use worm tubs to condense their , while the relatively tall thin necks of the still provide elegance to the . The resulting whisky is full of rich maltiness and peppery spice. If you love the malt-driven Speyside style then this Balmenach is a must try at this price. Whisky snobs will probably snort at the unknown here, but the adventurous will be roundly rewarded for trying something new. At this price, you can afford to risk it!

David Othenin-Girard | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 13, 2018

This gnarly little Balmenach is the first from the distillery we’ve ever bottled. The odd, little-hidden distillery is the unsung hero the year—no one seems to be familiar with it, but everyone who tries it understands why we bought it. After the initial funky whiffs blow off, the whisky opens to an inviting array of malty flavors, grainy and fresh, it takes a drop of water to tease the exceptional nuance of this awesome cask. With water, it delivers marmalade on warm biscuits, freshly picked pears, and then, leaves with digestive cookies and tea. Like a baby’s bum, it is really smooth and soft.

Jeffrey Jones | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 10, 2018

This is from a distillery that we don’t get to see often as a single-malt bottling. In many ways, it is a very pretty whiskey. The nose is really nice with sweet honey and spice aromas. In the mouth, the sweetness continues but is balanced out with a pleasantly dry . With water, it opens up and becomes more complex with honey nuances and a dry .

Andrew Whiteley | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 01, 2018

Both upon first tasting this in Scotland, and again once the cask arrived, the very first thing to pop into my head when nosing the glass is sake. It’s a bit unusual for a whisky to remind me of one of Japan’s other great exports, but there is a magical umami savor in the nose of this whisky, coupled with a delicate fruitiness that I can’t shake as reminiscent of one of the finest Junmai sakes I’ve ever tasted. Moving into the more traditional realm of baked fruit pies and coarse brown sugar in the raw, this whisky also has a gentle and sweet side to it. Baking spices on the back end of the palate coupled with a surprisingly lengthy and dry finish, make this 11 year old from an obscure distillery a secret winner in our extensive lineup of new casks. It is infinitely more complex than you’d expect such a young whisky to be.

KL2

1996 Auchroisk 21 Year Old “Hepburn’s Choice” KL Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($89.99)

Let’s get the hardest part out of the way – It’s pronounced “Ah-thrusk.” This non-peated nutty and spicy malt is the result of hot and fast whisky making. A quick mash of the malt, a short fermentation period, and a rapid boil in the wash still leave this whisky heavy and rich. It is a style that makes it a cult favorite for drinkers and ’s alike. Located just south of the Burn of Mulben and east of the River Spey, Auchroisk was originally built to supply JB with malt for their famous . There have been distillery bottlings since 1986, but it is more common to see this gem of a distillery bottled as single casks from independent bottlers. Happily, we work with the best independent bottlers to find the best casks, and this one really shines. The roasted character from the hot production has mellowed over 21 years into a rich and complex of honeyed granola and roasted chestnuts. Perfect for a cold winter’s night by the fire.

David Othenin-Girard | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 13, 2018

Part of the problem with bringing in forty casks at once is that several of our bottlings fall under the radar. In general, were ok with that because once people make it around to tasting the sleepers they begin to realize the incredible diversity of the whiskies that we have to offer. Auchroisk is a good name that almost no one knows. We powered through the last of the limited release this year, which the distillery couldn’t sell at the MSRP of $400, but our customers demolished at $250. Now, we’re offering a similarly aged product from this excellent distillery for only $90, and no one seems to have noticed. Their loss is your gain! This magnificent example of one of the quintessential Speyside flavor profiles is firing on all cylinders. The big nose of cake frosting and oak spice reminds me very much of the 25 year old, but with more purity. The palate is pointed and peppery, until you add the requisite dash of water. Then the nose pops with an opulent mineral quality, something like a northern Rhône white (but not like floral Viognier). The palate is now absolutely overflowing with flavor. Citrus peel, candied apples, malted cocoa, tropical fruit salad—it’s an absolute stunner. When people finally get around to this little whisky, they’ll be kicking themselves they didn’t notice it sooner. And this PRICE, I mean COME ON!

Joe Manekin | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 05, 2018

This is an example of a cask-strength whisky that is surprisingly supple, balanced, rich and showy— just a complete tasting single malt before any water is added. In fact, I don’t think you need to play around with water on this one, it simply tastes great and gives so much right out of the gate. Soft and with a hint tropical notes, it also offers suggestions of Manila mango on the nose. This is an easy-to-drink, delicious single malt for under $90.

Andrew Whiteley | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 01, 2018

Of the many casks we brought in this year in the sub-$100 range, I think this is my favorite of the no-peat variety. (And not just because it’s the one currently in my glass.) The weight and texture of this malt is gorgeous. It’s perfect without water, being full and nutty. Dominated by golden cereal and toasted nuts. The color says bourbon barrel, but the inherent character of the malt makes it feel like it’s seen a short finish in a sherry butt. There is a great spice cake and fresh Dutch crunch roll/brioche that I almost always associate with sherried whisky. The finish is super clean and lengthy. For me, this is pure enjoyment in a bottle.

Jeffrey Jones | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 01, 2018

Another hidden treasure from the world of single malts. The nose has honey and wax aromas, but comes across clean and fresh. In the mouth, the entry is sweet with pure and delicate flavors. With water, the nose really opens up with floral notes coming up and, in the mouth, dry flavors balance out the flavor profile. There are no smoke aromas or flavors. A fantastic bargain for single malt lovers.

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Article source: http://www.whiskyintelligence.com/2019/01/off-the-beaten-path-single-malt-exclusives-auchroisk-and-balmenach-at-kl-california-scotch-whisky-news/

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