A Beautifully Aged Speyside Malt at an Unbeatable Price
1993 The Road to Elgin (Linkwood) 27 Year Old “Old Malt Cask” K&L Exclusive Single Hogshead Cask Strength Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($149.99)
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We are back with another spectacular “teaspooned” offering that will delight even the most seasoned of Scotch collectors. While we can’t label it as such, this 27 Year Old comes from one of Speyside’s top distilleries: Linkwood. Linkwood is one of the crown jewels in the Diageo portfolio. It was originally constructed in 1821 and licensed in 1825, making it one of the region’s oldest. Much like Clynelish in the 1970s, a second distillery was erected next door, and the original distillery shuttered in 1985. Today, the washbacks from both distilleries are still in use, but the stills at the “old” Linkwood are silent. It remains highly prized for blending because it offers a beautiful balance between rich fruit and bold malt. Here we have a stupendous single cask that is well into its third decade of maturation. It’s extremely uncommon to see, as Linkwood above 25 years old becomes an absolute rarity. Because it’s been teaspooned, we can offer this remarkable dram at a significantly discounted price. This is a bottling no collector of Speyside’s finest should be without.
Teaspooning this exceptional whisky was a very nerve-wracking endeavor. While we inherently believe that the innocuous act of adding the tiniest possible quantity of another malt to a single barrel of Scotch does nothing to diminish the quality of a particular whisky, there is an intellectual argument to be made for keeping the sanctity and purity of a single cask intact. In the end, we’ve made the decision that in almost every case the more important factor for our customers is value over image. So while we had wanted desperately to be able to name this excellent distillery and could have likely sold every bottle for much more than the 25% premium that avoiding tariffs would have afforded us, we believe that it is most advantageous for our customers to offer them the very finest whiskies at the best possible prices regardless of perception. That is indeed what this special cask represents. Even years ago, when whisky was plentiful and comparatively cheap, we would have been lucky to find a deal as sweet as this one. At this advanced age, this famous old Speyside exhibits all the finesse and elegance you’d expect. A nose of creamy malt, Seville orange peel and honey candies. Sweet rich malt and stewed fruit on the palate with kisses of toasted vanilla, caramel tuiles and touches of warming wood spice on the finish. While some would’ve paid an extra $50 to show off the famous Linkwood name, we prefer mystery and affordability. We think most of our customers do too.
Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 10, 2020
If you missed it on pre-arrival, don’t despair, there is one last shot at this beauty. I must admit that at first blush I was slightly disappointed here. Then I waited. I added a drop of water and I waited. Worth. The. Wait. Golden honey, florals, caramel, butterscotch, brioche, all came pouring forth. Orange blossom and sweet mulled cider sang out. It feels youthful, bright, zippy, and vigorous with a touch of just-harvested malt, seeming to defy its sizable age statement. Then the dramatic and lengthy finish confirms that the 27 years it took for this to mature was definitely worth the wait. And for just 150 bucks, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll ever have a chance like this one again.
David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 16, 2020
The fact that we still have any of this awesome cask is a total shock. On paper this should have sold out along with the old Balvenie and Glenfarclas, but of course Linkwood doesn’t mean much to most drinkers since it’s not a distillery that’s been marketed on its own. Part of what I love about this cask, and the other two I mentioned, is that all three are very much quintessential Speyside in many experts’ estimation, yet they’re all so distinct from each other. The differences outweigh the similarities to the point that, as I’ve said before, it diminishes the importance of regionality in the marketing of Scotch whisky. But I digress. Significantly higher proof than the other two old teaspooned Speysiders this year and the color is pale straw. The nose is also very different, not showing such overt maturity as either of the other two. Instead, we have a robustness-perhaps a lack of fruitiness-that is unique to this Linkwood, but lines up with my idea of the distillery as a bit more rugged than the other two. An interesting mixture of dark malt, vanilla syrup, navel oranges, star anis and underripe banana. One the palate we’re very much on the malt and vanillas now. Prickly spice and a good dollop of pepper. The finish starts to release some sweetness and now we’re getting some exotic honey and some brambly heather. It’s indeed a slightly idiosyncratic style that is one of the reasons we love Linkwood. I prefer this with no more than a few drops of water, if that. Add such with some air and the spirit begins to offer more citrus and white pepper. It’s not as friendly or easy as the other two big Speysiders we’ve bought this year, but I suspect many who don’t want something too fruity and don’t mind a bit of pepper in their malt will find this one very attractive indeed.