February’s time is momentarily here
’cause is the shortest month of the year
Even with that day extra tacked on
The leap will still be come and gone
Time is fluid and perpetually flowing
Often I look back through the haze and wonder
O’er the tastings we together plunder
Now a century of months in one long row
Time spent, where does it really go?
With only empty green bottles left showing
Sure, this rhyme confounds and lacks sense
It is convoluted and ignorant of tense
Present and past together do mix
Along with our regular Outturn fix
One hundred now down, the future still owing
I was going to try and rhyme something with one hundred, given that this is the one-hundredth Outturn for the SMWS Canada – but obviously I am no doctor of the Seussian persuasion.
Regardless – happy one-hundredth Outturn from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada!
What does this 100th Outturn contain? Here is my rundown:
- We start the lineup with a relatively rare single cask from number 80. CHAMPAGNE AND ROSES is only the second time we have seen a bottle from the generically-named Glen Spey distillery in green bottle form within Canada (the previous was 80.9 – A WOLF IN WOLF’S COTHING), and only the 10th bottle from the SMWS as a whole.
- Up next is a funky Loch Lomond bottling – this time of the unpeated Inchmurrin persuasion. 112.49 shows plenty of fleshy fruit, especially on the palate, but also some weirdness in the form of sharpies and shoe polish on the nose. Not in an off-putting way (at least to me), it just adds nuance.
- 12.28 is next, and exciting in my opinion. I am a fan of BenRiach, especially the younger unpeated stuff from the Alistair Walker era aged in ex-Bourbon casks. The name ULTIMATE CREAM TEA is appropriate, with plenty of delicious tea and cream notes to be found within.
- Like with the first bottle, the distillery for bottle four is not one seen very often, and 59.57 -DANCING A DUET is only the second time we have seen a Teaninich from the SMWS Canada over the one hundred Outturns. It is a distillery I have started to watch for when it comes to indie bottlings as they tend to have some wonderful minerality, grassiness and tropical fruit notes. This one is no exception and virgin oak of the second cask couldn’t mask the distillery style.
- Number five in the lineup is a black label bottle, so you know it is going to be older and more expensive. This one is a doozy on the age side of things and on the nose and palate. G6.8 – SOOTHING THE MIND comes from the closed and demolished Port Dundas distillery, which once occupied Glasgow. It is a grain, but the sherry influence overtakes much of the initial grain elements. To my mind, this is the best of the black label bottles we have seen thus far.
- I was wondering when we would see one of the SMWS’s blended malts again, so having PEAT FAERIE 2 in the lineup is a treat. I haven’t tasted them side by side, but I do believe I prefer this younger, slightly peatier version over it’s older sibling.
- Last but not least is our excursion to Islay with VIGOROUS, CONCENTRATED INTENSITY. That is a Valentine’s Day-themed name if I have ever seen one! 53.288 is the best youngish Caol Ila of all the recent (and all very good) youngish Caol Ila’s we have seen from the SMWS over the past year or so in my opinion. The youth, salt and peat are all there, but it is incredibly well-balanced.
For the full rundown of the lineup in the words of the more trusted SMWS, read on below.
A big thanks as always goes to our neighbor’s Peasant Cheese for supplying the food compliment for the tastings.
80.10 – CHAMPAGNE AND ROSES
This 11 year old Speysider was matured in a refill hogshead and is 55.8%.
Flavour profile: Light & delicate.
Outturn: 296 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose was clean and easy – lemon bonbons, rhubarb rock and pineapple, with the sweetness of chocolate teacakes, meringues and butter icing; also faint fizziness (reminiscent of vintage champagne) and given time, hints of expensive shoe leather. The palate was sweet, viscous and tasty, with vanilla essence, hazelnuts in milk chocolate, currants, and Jamaican ginger cake; hints of orange peel and grapefruit on the finish.
Water shifted the nose to a fresher, more floral level – roses, crème patisserie and Liquorice Allsorts. The palate (delicate enough to need very little water) now delivered marshmallows and dark chocolate mints – very quaffable indeed.” $140
112.49 – BLACKBERRIES, BUBBLE-GUM AND BOUGAINVILLEA
This 18 year old Highlander comes in at 55.4% after maturing in a 2nd fill barrel.
Flavour profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow.
Outturn: 210 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Eavesdropping on the panel you would have heard words like ‘fascinating’, ‘amazing’, ‘compelling’, and ‘heavenly’ – enough said? No? OK – on the nose we got vanilla, concentrated coconut, perfumed oak, tropical island cocktails, lemongrass, lavender and mango. The palate discovered grapefruit, passion fruit, melon and nectarines, blue raspberry bonbons, white chocolate gateau and very old bourbon.
The reduced nose continued to delight us, with pineapple and grapefruit, blackberries, bubble-gum and bougainvillea. The taste was now an intriguing mix of bananas flambéed with rum, fudge, liquorice, dandelion and burdock and dried papaya. A very unusual but powerfully rewarding dram.” $210
12.28 – ULTIMATE CREAM TEA
This 9 year old Speysider was matured in a 1st fill barrel and the abv is 59.5%.
Flavour profile: Sweet & spicy.
Outturn: 208 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “The standard components for cream tea were all present and correct as warm scones were served with clotted cream, peach jam and sweet tea. However it was a tantalising treat to also be offered toffee waffles and banofee pie whilst soft lemon sponge cake arrived on a trolley with custard slices. Crumbly digestive biscuits created a lovely texture that complemented creme caramels and a refreshing zing from lime sorbet.
Floral notes from fresh figs then joined under ripe mango with the mouth coating dryness of banana skin. With a little water honey arrived on burnt toast with ginger tea. However to finish we discovered baked Alaska with maple syrup and a touch of white pepper and cloves on shortbread.” $155.99
59.57 – DANCING A DUET
This 10 year old Highlander comes in at 55.1% after extra maturation in a new oak hogshead.
Flavour profile: Spicy & dry.
Outturn: 320 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Rich, aromatic, luscious and fragrant were only a few of the adjectives being tossed around the room followed swiftly by descriptors of walnut and hazelnut oil, polished antique oak furniture, fig blackberry jam and spicy caramel shortbread. The taste was that of ginger chocolate cookies and balsamic-glazed carrots.
With water very ‘liqueur-like’ aromas of Galliano and Chambord were followed by dark chocolate and Tia Maria parfait but now with a medium dry finish of wild herbs such as anise, juniper, rosemary and myrtle. After nine years in an ex-bourbon hogshead we transferred this whisky into a heavy charred new oak hogshead.” $132
G6.8 – SOOTHING THE MIND
This 37 year old single grain whisky from a closed Lowland distillery comes in at 48.4% and had extra maturation in a 1st fill Oloroso hogshead.
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits.
Outturn: 173 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Fragrant, perfumed tropical wood notes like Malaysian agarwood incense sticks combined with ripe tropical fruits as well as burnt oranges and lemon tart made this a really fascinating nose. The taste was just like a glass of well-aged Sauternes or Tokay wine or indeed a Brandy de Jerez Solera Gran Reserva.
If you so wish add the tiniest drop of water and the aroma becomes a little ashy, rum and raisin fudge with some antique wood polish and to taste a little more oily and resinous with hints of candied orange, oak and hazelnuts. After thirty five years in an ex-bourbon hogshead we transferred this whisky into a 1st fill Oloroso hogshead.” $470
PEAT FAERIE 2
This 7 year old is the little brother of the 10 year old original Peat Faerie released last year. The single malts in Peat Faerie 2 come from both barrels and hogsheads from Islay and Speyside. The peat is ramped up a bit from the original Peat Faerie and the bottling comes in at 50%.
Flavour profile: Lightly peated.
Outturn: 2172 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose enticed with vanilla, pineapple and white chocolate, while a sweet dustiness reminded one panellist of chalk board dusters. We found a distinct maritime edge, smoked salted butter and old fashioned straw pressed cider. The peat smoke led on the palate accompanied by salty peanut brittle, caramelised red apples and watermelon jelly.
A splash of water brought toasted (borderline smoky) coconut, while soft minty notes gave way to lightly smoked white fish. The palate was slightly drying at first with a building sweet intensity. Flakes of sea salt were lightly sprinkled onto tropical fruit making for a sweet and savoury crescendo fitting of this regional marriage.” $137
53.288 – VIGOROUS, CONCENTRATED INTENSITY
This 11 year old from Islay was matured in a refill hogshead and comes in at 59.9%.
Flavour profile: Peated.
Outturn: 266 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “We found the nose clean and ozone fresh – bonfire smoke drifting over the machair, seaweed, rock-pools, scallop shells and green mussels; smoke-impregnated wood (smokehouse, kiln). Behind the smoke, there was lemon, orange blossom, fino sherry, boiled mint sweets, liquorice and tar. The palate had vigorous, concentrated intensity and deep flavours (tar, aniseed, black liquorice, swirling smoke, tobacco, ashtray) – but still that freshness of menthol and the scent of rain in the air.
The reduced nose added orange peel, lemon on barbecued sardines, sugar-coated fennel seeds and heather flowers. The palate became more rounded and satisfying – sweet woody smoke, smoked almonds, salted caramel, pineapple chunks and langoustines.” $200