Hepburn’s Choice is a private label bottled by Langside Distillers, which despite the name does not operate its own distillery. It is marketed exclusively in the U.S. by K&L Wines, and the bottles are always cask strength which means somewhere north of 50% alcohol. The buying team seems to go for outstanding specimens of a particular distillery or region which can be sold as an excellent value, especially with the current USD/pound exchange rate.
Since I no longer live in California, I keep my eye out for Hepburn’s Choice releases and order a bottle or two which, now that New York’s liquor police have clamped down*, must be put on hold for me until I can make it back to California. I used to stick to Islays but took a flyer on the Dailuaine at right above, which chief buyer David Driscoll described as “so fruity and delicious that we practically jumped across the negotiating table to get our hands on it.” Now I realize I trust these guys so much that I’ll try any Hepburn’s Choice bottle within my price range ($60 or so tops, a bit more for older casks).
I called K&L (877-KLWines) yesterday to let them know I was going to be past the 90-day deadline in picking up my latest purchase (“no worries,” said the very friendly chap on the phone, “we’re terrible about enforcing it”) and ask if there was any Hepburn’s Choice on the way. By chance, he said, David Driscoll was sitting next to him. A bit of back and forth and it was confirmed a container is on the water right now with new announcements expected very soon.
Notice the numbers on the labels: these really are limited quantities, in the few hundreds for each bottling. If this blog had thousands of daily readers I wouldn’t share this news because there wouldn’t be any left for me. We’ll keep this as our little secret, okay? If you are lucky enough to live near a K&L store, or if you live in a state that accepts liquor shipments, I recommend you bookmark their site then check back often.
*As far as I can determine, if your are the producer of a wine or spirit, you are allowed to ship it to New York but if you are a retailer you are not.