Linkwood 18, 2002 (Hepburn’s Choice for K&L)

Let’s make it a week of not just Speyside whiskies but Speyside whiskies bottled for/by K&L in California. The week started with a 10 yo Dailuaine that I dubbed a very good value at the price. Here now is an 18 yo Linkwood. The Dailuaine is a sherry cask; the Linkwood a refill hogshead. The Dailuaine was still available as of Monday; this Linkwood is sold out. Like Dailuaine, Linkwood is a workhorse distillery in Diageo’s stable that predominantly produces malt for the group’s blends. Which of course means that they are as capable as any other distillery of producing casks that are rather excellent indeed. Monday’s Dailuaine stopped a bit short of sheer excellence; will this Linkwood make it all the way? Let’s see.

Linkwood 18, 2002 (53.9%; Hepburn’s Choice for K&L; refill hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: A lovely mix of fruit—apples, pears, a bit of lemon. There’s some honey in there too and a mild grassiness. Gets maltier on the nose too with time and air. Some floral sweetness emerges with more time still. With water those sweet notes move in the direction of vanilla and it gets maltier still.

Palate: Comes in malty with a thick, mouth-coating texture. The fruit is right behind. A good drinking strength. With time the acidic notes expand earlier, taking over completely from the orchard fruit—lime more than lemon now. Some oak spice emerges as well. Water washes the malt and fruit out a bit here and mostly emphasizes the oak.

Finish: Long. The fruit expands on the finish with the acid cresting at the finish. As on the palate with water.

Comments: Well, it doesn’t make it to true excellence but this is a very nice, mellow, fruity Speysider. It is not going to get anyone very excited but it also doesn’t really have any flaws. It’s just good bourbon cask malt whisky. I don’t know what the asking price was but this would be a good easy drinker in the summer. Maybe I added too much but if you have an unopened bottle I’d advise against water.

Rating: 87 points.



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