...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Glenlossie Week: 17 year old 1997 Hepburn's Choice for K&L Wine Merchants

Hooray, it's GLENLOSSIE WEEK! If I lost you with that statement, then, well, you wouldn't have clicked to read this post anyway. So. Welcome, friends!

You may (not) be asking, "Michael, it's your birthday month. Do you really want to review four Glenlossies in a row?" The answer is, "yes". I've planned a Glenlossie week five times in the past two years and it keeps getting pushed off for something flashier. Like Auchroisk.

I've referenced today's whisky once before. At a Malt Nuts event two years ago, I tried eight Mannochmores. And, as it turned out, the second best Mannochmore was a Glenlossie.

To wit: Glenlossie and Mannochmore exist on the same plot of land. They're owned by the same folks (Haig, then UDV, then Diageo). Glenlossie is 95 years older but has a much smaller capacity than its conjoined sibling. Neither were deemed worthy of the Classic Malts series, so Diageo's only official releases of these Lossie distilleries was the Flora & Fauna collection. We have to go the indie bottlers to explore Glenlossie, and that's what I'm doing this week.

Today's Glenlossie was from a single hoggie bottled under Hunter Laing's Hepburn Choice label for K&L Wine and Spirits back in 2015. It sat on the shelf for so long that they dropped the price to $69.99. At that point I scooped up a bottle for a private whisky event.

Distillery: Glenlossie
Ownership: Diageo
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Independent Bottler: Hunter Laing
Label: Hepburn's Choice
Exclusive to: K&L Wine Merchants
Age: 17 years (1997 - 2015)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Bottles: 281
Alcohol by Volume: 55.4%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

Its color is light gold. The nose starts with honey, lemons, cinnamon, yeast and creamy ale. After 20+ mins in the glass, the whisky releases candy corn and circus peanut notes that nearly take over the whole thing. The palate has some heat, but it's more chili oil than ethanol. It's sweet and creamy. There are dates and lemon juice. Hints of vanilla and sandalwood. A soft malty undercurrent runs throughout. Chili oil heat spices up the long finish. Ah there's the nose's lemon and honey; the palate's sandalwood. A whipped cream and vanilla trifle.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1.25tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose's candy notes expand. Vanilla marshmallows and green apples jump in. The palate is quite similar to the nose now, with all that candy. A bit of a tart bite keeps things somewhat in control. With time, vanilla and bitter oak slip in. It finishes sweet and tart. The vanilla and bitter oak arrive late.

This is a sweetie through and through. It's not the full on winner I thought it was two years ago, mostly because the oak gets more overactive than one would expect from a refill cask. Jordan of Chemistry of the Cocktail (whom I actually split part of the bottle with, totally forgot about that), found the oak pretty aggressive.

But maybe because I tried it next to a far inferior whisky (to be reviewed next), there was still some thrill to this Glenlossie; mostly in the nose. It worked best for me without dilution, as water brought out the oak. If you missed out on this bottling when its price dropped, I wouldn't worry too much. Yes, one can't find single cask 17yo whisky for $70 anymore, but a great deal doesn't equal great whisky.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - had its price dropped to $69.99
Rating - 84 (neat only)


  1. If I had known this was coming I could have sent you a sample from my bottle of Whisky Galore Glenlossie, which is basically the opposite of this one.

    1. I've got a fun one for tomorrow. Those Whisky Galores seem to be from refillest casks in the warehouse.

  2. I g"loss"ed (Sorry!) over this one when it was available. I recall I grabbed the other 2015 Hepburns instead. That would be the Inchgower, the teaspooned Balvenie, and the teaspooned Macallan. Yeah, I'd say there were some tough choices at K&L that year.

    Also it looks like K&L are keeping the codenames for their teaspooned malts (from Hunter Laing). William Hepburn showed up on another Macallan while John McCrae went on another Balvenie. And Hector Macbeth went on a Sovereign Glenfiddich.

    1. The Inchgower was fabulous. You chose well.

    2. I really wish I bought a second bottle. I did buy a second William Hepburn since I like cask strength Macallan.

    3. Did you open the teaspooned Balvenie? If so, what'd you think of it?

    4. I haven't opened it yet but I was told not to expect the Balvenie flavor profile. In fact, I have to say from trying the teaspooned Macallan that these indie malts are not going to fall into familiar territory.

    5. I'm raising my hand here for the Hepburn's Choice teaspooned Balvenie. I went through 1/3 of a bottle that a whisky friend basically gave up on. Very bland and lacking in personality and pretty much on redeeming features. A few years ago would not have qualified for a single cask bottling. Sorry!

    6. No problem! I just wanted an indie Balvenie to try for once in my lifetime. If this is really far from being a good whisky, I can always blend in some official Balvenie.