Hop into spring? That remains to be seen.
It is March, shadows have been seen or not seen by prognosticating rodents from whimsical and try-hard small towns all over North America, and we now all wait to see which prophecies are true and which are not. Perhaps the groundhogs do know more than the average Farmer’s Almanac, but we humans are nonetheless stuck waiting to see what happens.
Especially here in Calgary. Right now, looking out the window, it kind of does look like spring, with the sun shining and the snow melting. But hey, ten minutes from now there will probably get a snowfall warning and need to break out the long johns once more as a cold snap rears its ugly head.
At least it is March. Spring should arrive at some point in the future, regardless of pandora’s shadow being or not being visible by some small critter that never asked for this task. The groundhogs have had their day in the sun (or not) for the year so we should leave them alone. April is just around the corner anyhow, then the Easter Bunny will be given its time to shine.
Before that though, we do still have March to get through, spring or no spring. What can always be counted on are new green bottles from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada to arrive at the beginning of each month. Rejoice SMWS fans, for the SMWS Canada, have a better track record of delivering than any soothsaying vermin that I am aware of!
So what does this bounty of seven new SMWS bottles give us this month? It is a very interesting and lineup. Don’t let the younger bottles fool you – the entire range benefits from time left alone in the glass and rewards you with remarkable complexity that belies the age stated on the bottles. Take a look:
- 63.47 – This Glentauchers is the start of our 101st SMWS Canada Outturn journey. It shows a nicely fruity forward and slightly herbaceous nose and a very juicy and fruity palate with a bit of spice up front. Very nicely put together and a great start to the lineup.
- 123.28 is the first of FIVE Highland region malts in the Outturn, which is the most Highlanders in one SMWS Canada tasting by my recollection. Though the nose is light and a touch muted compared to the brightness of the 63.47, the palate more than makes up for it. It is rich and silky and surprisingly full-bodied on the palate. The gorgeous mouthfeel is stereotypical for Glengoyne, where it was distilled. It is a lot of fun to have a Glengoyne from and a first fill ex-bourbon barrel – quite a contrast from the sherry-forward style that they are known for.
- 26.127 is the youngest of the range, and it is exciting for many, including myself. Any time a single cask Clynelish comes up you are going to have a good time, regardless of age. Juicy delight doesn’t show that characteristic waxiness you would expect from Clynelish distillery, but it is still a wonderful dram with lots of angel food, chamomile, salt and fruit present in the glass.
- 96.24 NEEDS time in the glass to open up, but when it does, oh boy! This Glendronach is similar to the Glengoyne in that it is not showing in the way you would expect since it has no sherry cask influence in the mix. What it retains and shows in true Glendronach fashion is the big, boldly structured palate that still manages to let fruit notes sing with time. And considering what official GlenDronach single casks go for nowadays, this one is a steal…
- 73.114 – Total eclipse of oloroso is aptly named. Aged in a first fill Oloroso but for 15 years and then finished in a first fill PX but, the sherry has completely eclipsed any distillery character on this Aultmore, but it is still a wonderful dram. For those that live in fear of sulphur – there are some burnt matchstick and rubber mat notes upfront on nose and palate, but they blow off over time in the glass and do not get in the way of that wonderful sherry character AT ALL. This is a very well-priced sherry bomb if you are looking for one.
- 135.14 brings us peat from the Loch Lomond Distillery and carries a tangy fruitiness with the peat that I am starting to think of as this distillery’s signature. At 13 years old this is a beautifully put together dram that starts tremendously but rewards you even more if you – again – give it time in the glass.
- 66.135 – Warm avuncular masculinity is an Ardmore with a strange name. I on the lighter side – both in colour and in peat. Don’t get me wrong – the smoke and peat are still there, but they are nicely balanced by the big sweet grain notes that shine through on the nose and the palate. Think apple-cinnamon oatmeal a bunch of raisins thrown in and a dollop of vanilla yogurt on top. It is a delectable breakfast dram!
There you have it! Those are my thoughts, for whatever they are worth. Read on below for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s notes on each of the bottles.
All of this information, plus the information on previous releases that are still available can be found on our website here. If any SMWS bottles show as being out of stock on our website please contact us – we might still be able to get more. As always we would like to give a big thank-you to our awesome neighbour’s Peasant Cheese for supplying the small bites for the tastings.
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63.47 – MELT IN YOUR MOUTH MINT
This 10 year old Speysider was matured in a refill barrel and comes in at 60.9%.
Flavour profile: Young & spritely.
Outturn: 215 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A sweet citric note at first before fruity aromas of pear and mango arrived and eventually, with a little time, we got baked banana split with mulled wine sorbet. Our first sip was like a mouthful of fizzy, whizzy cola flavoured popping candy followed by bittersweet orange marmalade.
With water we enjoyed an array of bakery delights; cinnamon swirls, glazed pecan Danish and pink cupcakes with rainbow coloured sprinkles whilst on the taste now – sweet, fresh and minty like vanilla fudge topped with a layer of crushed peppermint candy melting in the mouth.” $143.99
123.28 – A FROLIC IN THE CLOVER
This 9 year old Highlander comes in at 61.7% after maturing in a 1st fill barrel.
Flavour profile: Sweet & spicy.
Outturn: 206 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “The Panel found themselves in a carpenter’s workshop to begin with, one with a brylcreem machine on the wall. There followed notes of orange icing, rhubarb and custard, pollen, dandelions, wild garlic and carrot cake. A lick of eucalyptus resin also reared its head. Water rustled up some pink grapefruit, jasmine, violets, star fruit and bourbon biscuits.
The palate brought honey glazed barley, limoncello drizzled strawberry granita, lime jelly, pink wafers and rye spice. A little reduction also added chocolate orange, mojitos and a wonderful green malt note of pure pot still Irish Whiskey. A hastily assembled bouquet of wildflowers was presented in the finish.” $146.99
26.127 – JUICY DELIGHT!
This 7 year old from the Highlands was matured in a 2nd fill barrel and is 60.9%.
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla.
Outturn: 235 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Immediately we were dipping a rich and buttery brioche into honey before a whiff of freshly squeezed lime and a salty sea spray teased our olfactory system. On the palate neat, all very refreshing like mint flavoured lozenges and cinnamon flavoured salt water taffy with a hint of sorghum in the finish.
With a drop of water, a very citric aroma greeted us at first before the warming scent of vanilla pudding, as well as a freshly cut beech wood pile of firewood appeared. We then tasted yummy pineapple tofu with coconut rice followed by white chocolate and cardamom mousse.” $144
96.24 – SWEET, WARM AND LIVELY
This 12 year old Highlander comes in at 57.9% after maturing in a refill barrel.
Flavour profile: Spicy & dry.
Outturn: 201 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “On the nose, initial candy sweetness (including apricot Danish, cherry fudge and bourbon biscuits) gives way to hay, dried flowers and basketry – eventually hints of tobacco. The neat palate has nutty sweetness (Cadbury’s Whole Nut, almond croissant) mouth-filling warmth (iced gingerbread, embers, chili) and a kind of popping candy fizz at the end.
The reduced nose finds Neapolitan ice-cream and Turkish Delight, but deepens and develops the tobacco, rye bread and aniseed notes. The palate is still sweet and warming – candied ginger, liquorice stick and dry leather with that lively finish turning to bitter lemon and classic champagne cocktail.” $154
73.114 – TOTAL ECLIPSE OF OLOROSO
This 17 year old Speysider spent 15 years in an ex-oloroso butt before being transferred to a 1st fill Pedro Ximenez butt for the remainder of its maturation, and comes in at 56%.
Flavour profile: Deep, rich and dried fruits.
Outturn: 496 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “The skies darkened as clouds of black cherries and grapes loomed over a hot bodega warehouse. Aromas of grape must and oxidized apples and pears merged with tart hazelnuts, almonds and smouldering twigs. As a sherry butt moved in front of the sun we found ourselves in the shadows amidst dark fruits, cinnamon and nutmeg whilst chocolate covered brazil nuts tumbled onto the dusty earth.
As water dripped into the glass flavours of dates, prunes and salted caramel became bound together with thick tar. Then the light oily character of fine Riesling wine rippled over porcini mushrooms as cocoa nibs and coconut joined hazelnut praline and liquorice on the silky finish. After spending 15 years in an ex-oloroso butt this was transferred to a 1st fill Pedro Ximenez butt for the remainder of its maturation.” $207
135.14 – TRIPPING THE LIGHT FANTASTIC
This 13 year old Highlander was matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being transferred to a 1st fill charred red wine barrique, and comes in at 55.4%.
Flavour profile: Lightly peated.
Outturn: 247 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A rather bonkers aroma of strawberry toothpaste, smoked mint, lapsang souchong tea, salt baked fruits, rye spice, caraway, smoked beer, horseradish and smoked fish. With dilution there’s medical marijuana, nutmeg, smoked salmon, burlap, smoked mussels, brine and hot paprika. The madness continues on the palate with lime oil, cured meats, concentrated peat extracts, medical tinctures, oyster sauce, preserved lemons, raspberry trifle, sandalwood, newspaper ash and cough medicine.
With water there’s taramasalata, sardines in brine, olive oil, coal tar soap and salty kedgeree. A crazy yet hugely enjoyable dram that was matured for 13 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being transferred to a 1st fill charred red wine barrique.” $157.99
66.135 – WARM, AVUNCULAR MASCULINITY
This 12 year old from the Highlands comes in at 59.3% after maturing in a refill hogshead.
Flavour profile: Lightly peated.
Outturn: 320 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “The initial nose is quite light – polished wood, leather and socks drying on a wood-burning stove – but it grows darker with time –liquorice and dark chocolate sweetness, coal bunkers and nutty smoke. The neat palate has more of everything – sweeter, smokier and spicier – Victory V lozenges and aniseed, tar and tobacco, spiced nuts and earthy smoke – even some blackcurrant and pomegranate fruity intensity.
Water shifts the nose to somewhere between an old-fashioned apothecary and a leather elbow patch, pipe-smoking, warm, avuncular masculinity. The palate now turns sweet and savoury – roasted squash, sage, charred chili, peat smoke and tar – very tasty indeed.” $174.99