By: David Othenin-Girard
K&L Staff Member
The excellent Hector Macbeth has now become a staple on our shelves each year. It keeps getting older and more delicious, but we've managed to keep the price more or less the same. This year, things are a bit different. We started with the same well aged famous Speyside (teaspooned at birth), two of the standard hogsheads worth. We dumped those two barrels into a sherry butt. Now this wasn't any old sherry butt. Typically, when Scotch producers finish their products they'll use what are called "seasoned" sherry casks. These are created expressly for use in Scotch production and include the minimum required aging in Jerez before being dumped and shipped to Scotland. It is truly the cask that is the commodity in this system. But in this case, the Laing's used an ex-sherry butt that previously held unpeated single malt for many years. The whisky spent three full years maturing in this gorgeous old barrel. This is pretty unusual for finishing and while it doesn't impart the same fresh wine flavors as the seasoned casks, there's still plenty of life in this old butt. The resulting whisky is less a finish and more a secondary maturation. Jim McEwan would have called it ACE'd, additional cask enhancement in his Murray McDavid, which he reserved for products finished for longer than a year typically. It was bottled exclusively for K&L. The nose is packed for of dark roasted malt, deep dark cocoa, wild honey and maple syrup. On the palate the great high proof doesn't overwhelm at all and even with a descent splash of water it still offers tons of texture and richness. The gorgeous maltiness of the spirit here is not totally masked by the sherry and I'm grateful for that as there's no question that this exceptional distillery is at its best unfiltered and cask strength. Expect some dried fruits and subtle exotic spice on the palate with the malt and sherry balancing out nicely for a long nutty finish. I think this will be many people's surprise favorite since it ticks so many boxes and the benefit of finishing here is that we have a nice supply of it for now. Of course if there real serious drinkers start bunkering it like the last one - even this relatively full sherry butt will be empty before we know.