A Glorious Single Cask Exclusive from Hector Macbeth
1997 Hector Macbeth (Glenfiddich) 23 Year Old “Hepburn’s Choice” K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Butt Finish Cask Strength Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($119.99)
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We’ve featured some pretty incredible “teaspooned” casks in the past, but this delightful 23 Year Old from Hector MacBeth takes things to a whole new level. For those unfamiliar, teaspooning is when a big name Scotch brand sells a cask to the independent market. Before doing so, it adds in a small amount of another distiller’s Scotch, to prevent it from being marketed under their name. The rationale being that they want to preserve their brand’s identity while having easy access to some fast cash. It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone, as it allows us to offer some genuinely spectacular spirits for a fraction of what they would be under their original branded name. In this instance, this cask comes to us from Glenfiddich (you have to say it with a whisper) and is one of the finer examples we’ve encountered. Cask strength, raised in sherry butt, and with 23 years of age, it hits all the marks seasoned Scotch collectors are looking for. Because it doesn’t officially have the Glenfiddich name, we are able to offer it at a very competitive $119.99. Either as a gift or as an addition to your own collection, this is the perfect dram for the holidays and well beyond.
One of the original teaspooned malts here at K&L that longtime customers may already be familiar with is Hector Macbeth. While nearly all of this year’s blended malts had another distiller’s spirit dropped into it right before bottling, this was teaspooned at the time of production by the original maker with the intention of being sold off to the independent market. This is really how teaspooning came to be a thing in the first place. Blue chip distilleries, like Glenfiddich in this case, don’t want a bunch of people trading on their name. They do, however, still want to sell casks into the blending market to raise quick cash. While we don’t know what they put into the cask in this case (although our money is on the sister distillery next door – Balvenie) we do know that it tastes just like you’d expect sherry-finished Glenfiddich at cask strength to taste. If you’ve ever had the excellent Glenfiddich 15 Year Sherry Solera bottling and thought, “I wish this was full proof,” this is the malt for you. The extra 8 years of aging doesn’t hurt either.
David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 11, 2020
I’m generally skeptical of finishes, and I know I’m not the only one. That’s not because I don’t believe they can do great things, but because so many people use finishing to try to “save” or “hide” flawed whisky. If you start with great juice and use a great barrel to bring something more special to a whisky, then I’m all for a good finish. Here, though, we’re fully into a double maturation range. We started with the same awesome ‘Fiddich base that we’ve selling for several years. Two of these gorgeous hogsheads were dumped into a freshly emptied sherry butt more than three years ago. The result is something absolutely unique and undeniably delicious. None of the pancake syrup (thanks for that one Todd!) character that you sometimes get with finished whisky. Because the barrel was originally used for many years to age single malt, we’re getting that it’s very different than the seasoned sherry barrels that we normally see used for finishes. The color is auburn. The nose is an exotic bouquet of toasted vanilla bean, exotic wood, nougat, clean fresh leather, dried apricots and Christmas spice. The palate is medium bodied with extremely well integrated red fruit, nutty compote and baking spice. With water the nose explodes with dried stone fruits, exotic honey. nutmeg, clove and fresh sweet buns. On the palate it’s definitely very zesty and easily drinkable, but the water adds texture and length. I couldn’t be happier to have more than 500 bottles from this cask, it’s easily one of the best values we’ve ever put our name on. Stupendously high quality 20 year old malt aged for an additional three years in quality old sherry butt for less than $120? It’s so good I just don’t get why the distillery isn’t doing the same themselves.