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KWM 2021 Whisky Calendar Day 25: SMWS 108.40

Posted on December 23, 2022

by Evan

We made it! Twenty-four days straight of whisky in small bottles to make that difficult trudge to Christmas Day all the more pleasant and fulfilling. Did it work? Did you find some new favourites? I know I did.

It is fun to take this time to reflect on the Whisky Calendar as a whole. Did some bottles stand out for you? For myself, I had tasted some of these bottles before, but there were quite a few that were new to me. The most exciting part for me was tasting some that I had never tried before. Now that I have written about and tasted them all, here is a list of my personal top five:

5 - Day 5: New Riff Bonded Bourbon

I thoroughly enjoyed ths Bourbon, even though I had tasted it before. New Riff makes some great whisky including this Bonded number. 

4 - Day 15: Inchmurrin 12 Year Old

I have developed a great fondness for Loch Lomond over the past few years and this unpeated and fruity Inchmurrin only increased my love for what this distillery can create.

3 - Day 1: That Boutique-y Whisky Co. 24 Year

It was hard to pick a favourite from the four Boutique-y bottles in this years Calendar, but since I am making myself pick one the creamy, fruity and delicately peated 24-Year-Old Speyside gets the edge.

2 - Day 10: Kilchoman 2013 Mezcal Finish KWM Cask

I have enjoyed every single Kilchoman Cask that we have had bottled for KWM. This Mezcal finish gives the whisky a different style that was a lot of fun to discover.

1 - Day 16: Ardnamurchan Single Malt AD 01.21:01

It is usually the surprises that stand out for me the most, and this Ardnamurchan did just that. I had heard from Curt and Andrew how good this remote Highland distillery's whisky is, but when I finally tasted it for myself I was still blown away. Like the Loch Lomond 18 Year Old was for me a few years back, this is a bottle that Ardnamurchan on the map for me. I am excited to tast more from them in the future.

This was a hard list to put together and there were quite a few honourable mentions that just gut nudged outside of the list. The Glen Scotia Double Cask and Old Forester Bourbon are both near and dear to my heart. I would have liked to make room for two other bottles from That Boutique-y Whisky Company (the Irish and the Macduff), but something had to get cut. On the peated side of things, I really enjoyed the Scarabus and Peat's Beast, as well as the Port Askaig 100 Proof quite a bit.

What were your favourites from the 2021 KWM Whisky Calendar? Do you have a top 5?

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We have a tradition of ending our Calendar with a special 100ml bottle from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada. If you have purchased and enjoyed our Whisky Calendar in previous years then this is not a revelation. Luckily, the bottle selected for the Calendar is always a surprise and something a little bit different. We will get to that soon. But first, for those new to our Whisky Calendar and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society - what is the big deal?

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is the world's largest whisky club, and also an independent bottler. As a club, it has close to 30,000 members all over the world, and branches in close to 20 different countries. It bottles as broad a range of single cask, single malt Scotch whiskies as any other firm - if not more - and it doesn't stop there. It has also bottled Japanese whiskies, Bourbon, Grain whisky, Cognac, Armagnac, Rum, and Gin. Whether it is a whisky or another spirit, the Society always bottles the spirit from a single cask, straight from the cask, Unfiltered. Undiluted. Unrivalled.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was officially founded back in 1983. Membership to the SMWS is easy and gives you exclusive access to the widest selection of single cask single malt whiskies anywhere in the world. The Canada Chapter of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society celebrated its 10th birthday in October of 2021. Only Scotch Malt Whisky Society members can buy our exclusive single cask single malt whiskies, but anyone can purchase a sample kit for one of the monthly Outturn Tastings we hold online. We're confident once you've had a taste you will want to join the club. For more information on the SMWS and SMWS Canada, you can visit their web page or www.smws.ca.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society does not put the name of the distillery directly on the bottle or in the tasting notes. Instead, everything is codified. That brings us to the bottle for today. Check out the label and you will find it says SOCIETY CASK NO. 108.40. What the heck do those numbers mean? The first set of numbers before the decimal (the 108) means that this is from the 108th distillery ever bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society since its inception. The first distillery that the Society ever bottled a cask from is Glenfarclas, so SMWS Glenfarclas bottles are always labelled as 1.xxx. The 42nd distillery ever bottled was Tobermory, so SMWS bottlings distilled at Tobermory are labelled as 42.xx. And so on. Number 108 is a distillery within Speyside named Allt-a-Bhainne. The .40 of the 108.40 means that this is the 40th cask from Allt-a-Bhainne that the SMWS has ever bottled.

Allt-a-Bhainne (pronounced "Alt - A - Vain") might not be a distillery that you have much familiarity with. If that is the case do not worry; you are not alone! The distillery was founded less than 50 years ago in 1975. The distillery is owned by Chivas Bros. / Pernod Ricard and is one of the main malt components in Chivas Regal Blended Scotch. It resides near Dufftown in the heart of Speyside and some of it's nearest neighbours include Balvenie, Mortlach, and the Dufftown distillery itself.

It has spent most of its young life in production other than a two and a half year period between 2002 and 2005 where it was mothballed. Most of Allt-a-Bhainne's spirit is unpeated, but over the past decade or more they have been doing peated runs with a malt spec of between 10ppm and 20ppm as well. These peated runs currently make up between one-third and one-half of the distillery's annual production.

Up until recently, it has never had any official bottles on the market. There is an official bottling now, but it has yet to reach Canada and Alberta. The official bottle is marketed as being "The sweetly peated single malt." I have tasted Allt-a-Bhaine before - mostly in SMWS bottle form - and not all of them have been peated. Based on the Society's name for this one I am going to guess that it is peated though. Let's give it a taste!

SMWS 108.40 - BREAKFAST BUFFET AT A BONFIRE - 63.4%

Evan’s Tasting Note

Nose: BBQ smoke, petrichor, baked potato, coffee grounds, blackberry jam, honey roasted almonds, cooking oil heating on a cast iron pan, fudge, and dark chocolate.

Palate: Honey roasted almonds again, graham crackers, smoked maple ham, burnt marshmallows, poached pears, bananas foster, and a cup of espresso.

Finish: Smoky, nutty and roasted and warming all the way down.

Comment: This is warming, but it is pretty darn drinkable at cask strength. It takes to water nicely if you want to dilute it with a few drops and cut the alcohol level a tad.

This is the second peated Allt-a-Bhainne I have tasted and I quite like the style - the smoke is there but the coast for the most part is not. This is a great finish to the 2021 KWM Whisky Calendar. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, a Happy New Year! I can't wait to hear about all of your thoughts on our Calendar. Tell me what your favourites were. Quitely mutter to me what your least favourites were. What do you hope to see in next year's edition? I already have my own wish list put together of bottles to try and source, and starting in January we will have to start the process of contacting importers and distilleries to see what is possible. We all may tear through the Whisky Calendar box in less than a month, but putting these things together is a year-long endeavour!

Cheers, and Happy Holidays Everybody!
Evan
[email protected]
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool

This entry was posted in Whisky, Tastings, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Whisky Calendars, Independent Bottler, KWM Whisky Calendar 2021

 

 

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