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A Screaming Value on a 40 Year Old Scotch from North British - 12/10/2019 - Single Malt Scotch

We’ve had some pretty amazing single grains over the years, but this 40-year-old expression from North British is in the running for an all-time favorite. Not only its age statement more than impressive, but the juice within is also mind-bogglingly delicious. Take a moment to read through the staff reviews below, and you’ll understand that there’s something extra special about this Old Particular bottling. Its multi-dimensional delivery offers a little something for everyone. As our SoCal spirits buyer, David Othenin-Girard, notes, “This is the sort of spirit that will make anyone a lover of single grain.” Aged Scotch as a category can be prohibitively expensive with many bottlings priced well into the $1000s. But thanks, once again, to our direct-import program, we are offering this stunner for only $299.99. This is a lot of whisky for such a modest price. More and more, scotch drinkers are finding their way to these single grain expressions and absolutely loving them. Based on what we tasted, this North British 40 Year Old is sure to earn more than a few new acolytes. As always, quantities are very limited, so don’t delay in adding this dazzling whisky to your collection.

Staff Image

1979 North British 40 Year Old "Old Particular" Single Refill Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($299.99)

This year we were more picky than usual in our grain selections. Perhaps the cream of the crop is the 40 year old North British. Though this cask is a bit younger than the 58 year old official distillery bottling released last year, it is still definitely no spring chicken. As single grain whiskey ages past the 20 year mark it often takes on tropical fruit notes, as it progresses even further, rich cream and honey often layer on top. At 40 years old as long as the cask doesn't overwhelm the spirit, this all comes together in a glorious mesh as a sweet and decadent dessert. For whisky lovers it rarely gets better than this. A massive age statement, a bomb of sweet flavors, a creamy mouth coating palate, and an extraordinary price. Consider that the distillery's official bottling will set you back over $2,000, if you can even find a bottle, and the modest $300 price tag here is placed into the broader context. Just a screaming good deal for one of the best whiskies of the year.

Staff ImageDavid Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 10, 2019

A true expression of the potential that Single Grain has to transcend the category on quality terms. While most grain has some distinct characteristics, usually the fact that the aromatics are restrained, woodsy and driven by sweet coconut or cereal, this one is like nosing some ungodly elixir in terms of complexity. On first nosing we're in the realm of the very best natural cognacs, supple and soft dried stone fruits, exotic spice, toasted vanilla and deep roasted coffee bean. The palate is ultra sweet up front with a kind velvety texture. As the whisky travels the palate, rich oak spice and legendary tropical fruit take over from the sweet grain. This is the sort of spirit that will make anyone a lover of single grain. D'you love old bourbon? Try this. Are you a brandy nut? Try this? Do you love ultra aged single malt? Why not this? It doesn't replace either of the category, but it's got a finger in each and will seduce any lover of great spirits.

Staff ImageJackson Lee | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 29, 2019

I always get a bit giddy when I have a chance to try a dram older than I am, and this offering did not let down. The initial whiff reminded me of Fernet Branca Menta herbal, anise, and mint; but as that faded, pine wood shavings, caramel chews, tar, and roasted cacao nibs found their way out of the glass. It reminded me of a funky, well-done Jamaican rum giving an excuse to really geek out on the aromas. The palate returned to the Scotch path as I got kettle corn, blondies, oak barrel (like, the actual barrel), and sassafras. The texture was also quite compelling, not quite velvety but soft and full-bodied. As the finish approached, caramel corn, sweetgrass, green apple peel, oak wood, and Saigon cinnamon all got a chance to make a cameo during the long fade. A fun and complex Scotch that is sure to impress a crowd.

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 24, 2019

North British distillery is just outside of Edinburgh ,and from what I have so far tasted, produces tasty and elegant grain whiskeys. This forty year old is lively and full of finesse and flavor. The nose is sweet brown sugar. In the mouth it is mouth coating brown sugar but it not heavy and has a kiss of elegance. There is a long finish. With a little water the nose is the same as above but there are a subtle undertones of christmas spice. The mouth is the same as above but more elegant and delicate.

Tim Telli | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 23, 2019

Only 257 bottles of this single cask 40-year-old whisky were filled. This reminds me of a British custard cream biscuit. Honey and floral aromatics give way to a warming finish. This would be a perfect dram to drink by the fireplace on a cold winter's night. A single malt with this much age would cost a heck of a lot more than this.

Staff ImageStefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 23, 2019

People often disregard the single grains in favor of single malts for their prestige, but there is no way you will find a whisky of this quality and age statement at this price for a single malt. We are lucky to have such devoted and fastidious spirits buyers who take the time to bring the best products back to our customer at K&L and this bottling is one of their best finds. Bottled by one of the most trusted names in Scotch whisky, Douglas Laing, the North British is pure decadence, with definite custard notes and a long, slightly spicy finish. I was a huge fan of our last release of North British and didn't think it could better, but was proven quite wrong after tasting this release.

Staff ImageNeal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 23, 2019

Brandy-like on the nose at first, this bottling from North British is quite delicate given its 40 years of age. Crisp green apples, light apricot, cherry, and cream drift to the nose. More florality develops with continued swirling and sniffing. The palate is even more intensely fruity with an apple medley and red berries. There's a little sugar cookie sweetness with soft vanillas melding with the fruits then becoming more leathery, oaky, and bold into a long finish.

Staff ImageAndrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 23, 2019

Gummy peach rings, creamy custard, strawberries, sticky syrup, caramels, brown sugar topped creme brulee, sweet afternoon biscuits, the list goes on and on. We were extremely picky when it comes to grain whisky this year. Rather than build a selection with a broad spectrum of what grain has to offer, we selected only the most opulent, over the top casks that still met our strict value proposition requirements. At 300 bucks, this 40 year old is bluntly put, a slam dunk. If you need a perfect gift for a whisky lover (even if that is just a gift to yourself) you cannot mess this up. Succulent, sweet, candied notes, gobs of fruit and cream, and a lively Christmas spice finish, this cask is everything you can ask for in a 40 year old whisky and then some. "Glorious" comes to mind.