This Imperial was bottled by Signatory for K&L as part of their 2013 release of handpicked casks. I bought a number of these and I’ve had decent to bad experiences with the ones I’ve opened so far. This one, I’m sorry to say, also falls into middling territory. It made me decide to skip K&L’s releases this year—with my luck this may be the year that everything is very good and actually as described by K&L’s notes.
Imperial 17, 1995 (52.7%; Signatory; hogshead 50135; from my own bottle)
Nose: A little neutral at first and a bit cardboardy. There’s some biscuity malt below that and then the fruit begins to show up: apple, a touch of apricot, some lime and something a little more musky. That initial cardboardy note turns into dusty wood. With more time the wood is a little too present. Water knocks back some of the wood and pulls out more of the lime and malt and some creamy vanilla.
Palate: Sweet at first but then quite a lot of lime followed by a turn towards the wood. Nice texture. The wood shows up earlier on subsequent sips and is more astringent than at first. On the palate too water gets the wood under control, emphasizing the lime (more peppery here) and bringing out vanilla and cream.
Finish: Long. The wood doesn’t hang around, giving way instead to the lime and then expanding sweetness again (apples, simple syrup). Some woody bitterness shows up at the end. As on the palate, the wood becomes more pronounced with time.
Comments: Neat, the nose is not great but the palate is fine. Water improves both, especially the nose. Even with water, it’s nothing special but it comes closer to being worth the price I paid for it, relative to age ($70).
Rating: 84 points. (Pulled up sharply by the addition of water.)