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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Single Malt Report: Imperial 17 year old 1995 Signatory Vintage for K&L Wines

Tuesday's 1995 Signatory Imperial was decent and drinkable, though much better with water.  That one was sold exclusively through Binny's.  Today's 1995 Signatory Imperial was sold exclusively through K&L Wines.  Please note: This is not the '95 Imperial currently on offer at K&L.  This is the bottling they sold in late 2013.

Imperial Distillery had a rocky existence.  Though it technically stood for 116 years (from 1897 to 2013), it only operated for about 46 of those years thanks to repeated extended closings.  As mentioned on Tuesday, I've found Imperial's single malt to be fruity, simple, and enjoyable.  It's a shame that Pernod Ricard closed and bulldozed the distillery because I could picture Imperial making for a pleasant unchallenging 12+ year old.  But knocked it down they did.

Today, the one on the right. The review for the one on the left
can be found here.
Distillery: Imperial
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Retailer: K&L Wines
Age: 17 years (Aug. 21, 1995 - July 9, 2013)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask #: 50135
Bottles: 44 of 168
Region: Speyside (Central)
Alcohol by Volume: 52.7%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
Sample courtesy of Eric S.  Thanks, Eric!!!

Like Tuesday's Imperial, this one's color is light gold.  The nose is more vibrant though.  The esters read right between citrus fruits and flower blossoms.  Then vanilla bean meets dandelions meet confectioner's sugar.  With some air, small notes of wood smoke, pine, and cologne develop.  A larger note of peach skin emerges.  The palate is more of a puzzle.  There's a soap note positioned in the foreground and it takes me a while to find my way around it.  There's salt, wood spice, hints of lime and butterscotch and pastry dough.  With time a tartness develops and the soap fades slightly.  The soap shows up again in the finish, though things perk up a little.  Salt, pepper, roasted grains, canned peaches, and dried apricots show up.

WITH WATER (approx. 46%abv)
Honeycomb and beeswax combine with orange and lemon zests in the nose.  The vanilla bean note remains prominent, now combining with cream and bakery scents.  The soap's still in the palate.  Lemon creme and custard show up along with flower blossoms.  Some welcome tartness and herbal bitterness appear.  Less soap now in the finish.  More sugar, more lemon.  Hints of flowers and tartness.

So...the soap.  No one else has referenced this issue.  MAO (K&L zealot that he is) has no mention of it in his notes.  The review by a whiskybase member also doesn't reference it.  And that's about it for online reviews, unless anyone knows of another.

[On a side note, with these K&L bottlings selling out left and right, why are MAO and I the only bloggers reviewing them?  Is it because K&L doesn't send out free samples?  Did Driscoll hurt everyone's feelings with his blogger comic?  Are members of the blogging community not buying their exclusives?  Or are these bottles ending up in everyone's bunkers?  All of the above?]

Because there's no sign of the soap in the nose, I don't think actual soap entered the whisky at any point.  A hint of soap is not a killer, but there's enough of it present here to handcuff the rest of the palate.  Without it, this whisky would probably get a score a point or two higher than Binny's Imperial.  Like Binny's version, this one has the charms of a good blend.  The nose might be better than Binny's's, the palate less hot, and the whole similarly improves with water.

So, for more positive soapless reviews, see the ones I mentioned above.  In any case, this Imperial has been sold out for quite awhile (timely reviews as always!) and the current one on K&L's shelf is from a different cask.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $84.99
Rating - 76