Just about a year ago I posted reviews of four exclusive Signatory casks for K&L in California. I split those bottles with a bunch of other people. I liked a couple of them a lot (the Blair Athol 26 and the Benrinnes 20) and while the other two didn’t get me very excited, they were solid malts as well (a Glen Elgin 24 and an Imperial 19). Here I am now with the winter 2016 edition of K&L’s Signatory casks. In addition to this Linkwood 19, there is an Imperial 20, a Dufftown 18 and a Glenburgie 21. Three are priced quite reasonably (<$100); I guess we’re being asked to pay a closed distillery premium for the Imperial ($120). In my review of last year’s Glen Elgin 24 I closed by saying that that bottle only seemed like a good deal for the age if you fetishized a high age statement, not so much for the actual whisky, which was just a middle of the road malt of its type. Still, I did like all of last year’s casks. Will these be at least at that level?
Linkwood 19, 1997 (56.6%; Signatory for K&L; hogshead #4616; from a bottle split)
Nose: Grassy, a little musky and then a fair bit plasticky. The musky note gets more citrussy on the second sniff but the plastic expands with it, picking up some rubber as it goes. With time the rubber and plastic recede somewhat and let the citrus (lime zest) come to the front; some white vinegar in there as well. Maltier as it goes and then chalkier. Muskier with water.
Palate: Sweeter arrival but the lime zest is right there. Nice mouthfeel. No development beyond this as it sits. Let’s see what water does: nothing good, I’m afraid; in fact, it falls apart a bit, with bitter, woody notes breaking the balance.
Finish: Long. The lime zest keeps expanding and it picks up some white pepper as it goes.
Comments: An anonymous and inoffensive Speyside malt of its type. It might seem like a good price for the age but, echoing myself from a year ago, it’s not a good price for what’s in the bottle. And given the profile, I’m a little surprised that even Driscoll would try to sell it as a Johnnie Walker Blue alternative. Linkwood can be very good but this is not the cask to make that case with. And, again contrary to Driscoll’s notes, I’d suggest holding the water on this one.
Rating: 79 points.
By the way, if you think I’m hard on K&L’s selections, check out a fellow Twin Citizen’s take on this cask…
That comparison with JW Blue is a hell of a stretch. Likening a lightly-peated, thin, watery blend to a cask strength un-peated single malt is a setup for a lot of disappointment. Two different experiences for two different customers.
Thank you for reviewing this. I’m going to skip this one and perhaps go with one of the other Signatory bottlings K&L brought in…
My review of the Glenburgie is coming up on Monday. Might do the other two next week as well, if you want to wait.
Perfect, I’ll wait to hear your notes on those. Thanks for the heads up!