While it's become increasingly common for stores to offer exclusive cask picks, very few have gone so far as to construct their own blends. It's both more technically challenging, as flavors need to be balanced while being conscious of the price of the components, and riskier as it requires buying much more whisky than the several hundred bottles that a single cask usually produces. However the folks at K&L Wines decided to take the plunge and release a blend under their Faultline label.
This whisky is bottled at a solid 50%, without coloring and probably without chill filtration given the proof.
I got this as part of a split with Michael Kravitz and MAO, who should have their own reviews up at the same time.
Faultline Blended Whisky
Nose: mossy/vegetal peat, a little seaweed, ginger snaps, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, light grain and malt, bourbon cask berries and oak, vanilla. After adding a few drops of water, the peat becomes smokier and joins up with the oak to give an incense note.
Taste: basic malt and grain sweetness coupled with light berries and mild oak tannins throughout, peat pops out around the middle and rides on top while some sherry and chocolate plus more oak and berries emerge around the back. After dilution, the sherry spreads across the palate and gives it a thicker feel, while the peat retreats and integrates with the sherry and oak.
Finish: peat, oak, berry, chocolate, and malt/grain residue,
I have to hand it to the Davids, this is a rather well-constructed blended whisky at an eminently affordable price point. With that said, it only hit that point after I'd had the sample open for a number of months - when I first cracked the cap it was almost all young Ledaig assaulting my senses, which was rather overwhelming. With time the peat has settled down and integrated, providing a more pleasant experience overall. Now it's somewhere in the ballpark of Springbank, Highland Park, or Talisker. Speaking of which, adding a little bit of extra malt can really smooth it out - I particularly enjoyed adding a touch of Highland Park 15 Year, which amped up the sherry character and provided a bridge to the noisier Ledaig peat.
The closest comparable blend I can think of is Isle of Skye 8 Year, which packs a similar amount of peat at a similar price point, but at a reduced proof. All said and done, I think I would give a bit of an edge to the Faultline, simply because of the higher alcohol content letting it stretch further. I'll probably throw in a bottle the next time I order from K&L. For $25 it's hard to go far wrong as long as you enjoy some peat in your whisky.