Labour Day long weekend has come and gone, and it back to… normal? Who knows. The kids are back to school (or being homeschooled) and the KWM Whisky Calendar is close to being finalized. We can’t do much around Kensington Wine Market to provide you with a sense of normalcy beyond just keep on keeping on, and that is what we plan to do.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada is also doing the same. Here are the latest seven bottles in the September of 2020 Outturn, with my thoughts on them:
- 26.136 – In my book, Clynelish is always welcome in any outturn. It tends to be full of verve and excitement when young (aren’t we all), and with age, it gets even better (I wish I could say the same!). With a name like CANDY FLOSS AND CAROUSELS and a stated age of 8 years old, this should plenty of that Clynelish vivacity. Let’s see: The nose gives honey and salty corn nuts along with baked apple, peach and pear. There is a touch of waxy character and roasted malt along for the ride. On the palate, I get a generously salty delivery with lots of the already stated fruits, corn nuts, and peanut skins as well. The palate reminds me a wee bit of Beachcomber, sans the peat and missing a touch of that big fruity zing. It finishes with a touch of creme brulee and Cracker Jack popcorn. On the whole, this isn’t really colouring outside the lines for this distillery, but it is delicious nonetheless. It is pretty much what I personally want from Clynelish – though I do wish it was older. Then again, they can’t all be 24 Year Old Single Casks costing $340, can they?
- 95.36 – This is our second Auchroisk from the SMWS Canada, with the first coming to us recently in the June 2020 Outturn (that was 95.32 – BLONDIE BOMBSHELL). Like it’s predecessor, BODY BUILDERS IN BALL GOWNS is a touch on the high side when it comes to ABV at a dainty 66.1%. Not only is that 0.1% higher than June’s, this one also has a more awesome and evocative name. At least to me… Let’s check out the muscles and lace on this guy (or gal): On first nosing, it is all fresh and candied ginger for me, plus sunflower seeds, chamomile tea, hay, and a mix of cream soda and lemonade. To taste: Woah, that is indeed big. The alcohol is definitely there, but so are macadamia nuts, shortbread cookies, green grapes, spicy ginger ale and a squeeze of white grapefruit. Impressive. It is zesty and quite tasty. It is like holding onto a lit stick of dynamite and finding out that is actually a birthday sparkler – I mean sure, those sparks do burn off some of your arm hair, but you do still get to keep the arm!
- 48.110 – With a name like SOOOOTERNES!, you are definitely given an idea on what this Balmenach will be about. Nose: Vanilla custard and golden raisins, Galliano liqueur, honeycomb, and a dash of reduced balsamic drizzled over toasted oak staves and charred oat biscuits. On the palate it is BIG. Tangy, fruity, floral and viscous all at once. Lots of that white dessert wine made in a small subsection of Bordeaux – what do they call that stuff again? Lemon candies and wine gums, pineapple cubes, mint leaves, chilli spice and a touch of mustard powder. It is winey, but even if that is not your thing the spice and sweet notes cover any off-putting astringent notes up. If I had to pick a wine cask for whisky that wasn’t sherry it would probably be Sauternes, so this one works nicely for me!
- 93.124 – In my June 2020 Outturn Blog Post I shocked the whisky world by stating that Glen Scotia was one of the top three whisky distilleries operating in Campbeltown today. That wasn’t hyperbole – I stand by what I said and I dare you to convince me otherwise. Now that my reputation is on the line, this 16 year old Glen Scotia that the SMWS have dubbed 3AM DONER KEBABS better live up the the pedestal I have put it’s distillery on! The nose is very promising, with ashy tropical notes abound. A bit of parma violet plus barbecued prawns in a mango chili sauce and a squeeze of lime. For the palate I get those prawns again, this time they were tossed into a sweet and spicy gumbo with a bit of smoky okra Anybody else hungry? This dram is creamy, ashy and fruity all at once and just all-around drop-dead gorgeous. Damn.
- 44.116 – I believe this is the first Craigellachie SMWS bottling we have seen in more than two years. Crazy! What does this 8 year old aged in 2nd fill Oloroso Sherry give us? Well, first of all it makes the high ABV from 95.36 just a warmup: PIRATE SHIP IN A STORM weighs in at a gargantuan 68.2%! That is SMWS single cask RUM territory. For the nose, I get caramelized onions, plum sauce, dates, melted dark chocolate, maple glazed bacon, and dark roast coffee grounds. The palate is massive with lots of dried (and burnt) dark fruits. Raisins, dates again, Dark chocolate ganache, nutmeg, molasses, gingerbread, Christmas cake, a can of Coca Cola, and Tom Cruise’s leather bomber jacket from Top Gun; flight badges, fur-lined neck and all.
- 66.163 – Usually it is the Ardmore’s that embrace the weirdness of it all, but I am not sure that this one, titled A PERFECT FINISH TO A PERFECT DAY, will hold a candle (or a struck match) to the Craigellachie I tasted just before. I had better check, just to be sure. The nose on is smooth… It has the prototypical young Ardmore combination of peat, ash, and cereal. I get smoky Weetabix notes like I often do, but I am also finding chocolate mousse, really good espresso coffee, granola bars, and dried cherries. To taste it has more cherry notes, into the pretend maraschino stabbed with a cocktail sword that is currently drowning in your Shirley Temple. It shows a pleasantly sweet grain note, oatmeal with raisins and cream. Pralines and Belgian waffles with freshly whipped cream drizzled in syrup also come to the fore. This is a peated whisky for Summer if I have ever had one. Sweet and unpretentious, unlike me.
- 53.275 – Our journey through the seven-strong lineup of the September SMWS Canada caps off with GAUZE AND EFFECT from Caol Ila distillery on Islay. The nose is sooty and salty with cured and barbecued meats, but a touch floral as well with a dash of lavender and potpourri mixed in. On the tongue, it is salty, creamy and ashy with charred meats and cooked fruits. Like a mix of oranges and Fisherman’s Friends along with peach and strawberry puree to sweeten it all up. This is another solid young-ish 53. Peated whisky always shows better than unpeated whisky at a young age. Even then: there is no other Islay distillery that we so many very good young single casks come out of. Thank goodness for Caol Ila – may its stills never go silent!
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 as we might still be able to get more.
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26.136 – CANDY FLOSS AND CAROUSELS
From the Highlands, this 8 year old comes in at 59.6% after maturing in a 2nd fill barrel.
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla.
Outturn: 254 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Aromas arrived with a peppery tingle, a combination of chili chocolate and peppercorns that drifted towards carnations but with overtones of beeswax polish and dripping candles. On the tongue it was a step back in time with all the fun of the fair, spinning on wooden rides with the sweet character of candy floss and toffee apples heavy in the air. Honey and vanilla merged into digestive biscuits and oily notes suggested creamy ghee.
Water released more confected characters of lemon drops and barley sugars that had stuck to the polished wooden decking of a Waltzer fairground ride. Waxed lemons came through beside ripe pineapple and melon, whilst on the palate more pronounced oaky notes took hold.” $152
95.36 – BODY BUILDERS IN BALL GOWNS
This 9 year old Speysider comes in at 66.1% after maturing in a 2nd fill barrel.
Flavour profile: Young & spritely.
Outturn: 215 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A delicately scented veil of ladies perfume shrouded bold aromas that smacked the senses with cinnamon and sanded oak. Enjoying bags of character we soon found ourselves bench-pressing tea cakes and dead-lifting marshmallows on a floor of dusty tobacco and biscuit crumbs. Then the palate muscled its way in with a full punchbag of fresh ginger, sweet spices and aniseed.
After a refresh and a dash of water we found ourselves back again in powerful perfumes but this time alongside crushed nettles in a herb garden and assorted biscuits laced with vanilla. Sweet honey began to emerge with a spice that built from nutmeg and ginger to cinnamon and camphor, whilst on the finish we found big and heavy hitting wood.” $153
48.110 – SOOOOTERNES!
This 15 year old Speysider spent 13 years in a bourbon hogshead before being transferred to 1st fill ex-Sauternes barrique and is 56.6%.
Flavour profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow.
Outturn: 185 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Sweetness strikes first: milk chocolate, honey cake, icing sugar, assorted sweet dessert wines, mushroom powder, old wine cellars, aged Tokaji, fragrant waxes, herbal toothpaste, sheep wool, praline, cafe latte and Brazil nut. A little reduction brings out mulling spices, mincemeat, sultanas stewed in old Cognac, fruit loaf, pecan pie, pomegranate molasses, and posh custard made with old Marsala wine.
The neat palate is full of sweetened Earl Grey tea, molten fudge, lavender icing, pine resin, tea tree oil, fruit extracts, herbal infused oils, old Madeira, sponge cake and glazed fruits. With water there’s mint fudge, maraschino cherry juices, bitter orange peel, Manhattan cocktail, olive oil cake, blackcurrant wine gums, furniture polish, sweet waxes and elderflower cordial. Matured in a bourbon hogshead for 13 years before transfer to a 1st fill ex-Sauternes barrique.” $157
93.124 – 3AM DONER KEBABS
This 16 year old from Campbeltown comes in at 53.6% after maturing in a refill hogshead.
Flavour profile: Oily & coastal.
Outturn: 267 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A furtive nose of ferrets, cow sheds, fishing harbours, old medicine, sheep fanks, engine bits, eviscerated tractors, lemon infused oil, beach stones, hospital corridors, playing sweaty squash with a farmer using a preserved lemon. Moss, sea shells, unsweetened herbal liqueurs and hot smoked mussels. Add water to this beautiful madness and you get antiseptic cream, smoked woollen undergarments, putty, mercurochrome, pineapple jam, smoky grist cakes, wildflowers, coastal paddling and over-steeped Lapsang Souchong tea.
Quick! To the palate…! Muesli bonfires, barbecued peach stones, ham hock wrapped in burlap, algae smoothies, game meats, engine oils, mineral salts on fire, hot sand mixed with lemon balm and vapour rubs. Cask strength cough syrup! Swimming alone in a weird pond. Add some of that pond water and you get smoked mineral oils, pine resin, mint extract, lamb stock, posh 3am doner kebabs, petrichor, tar liqueur, herbal toothpaste and essence of gravel. A marvel out of time upon which to found a new religion…” $208.99
44.116 – PIRATE SHIP IN A STORM
This 8 year old from Speyside was matured in a 2nd fill Oloroso butt and comes in at 68.2%.
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits.
Outturn: 567 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Barrels of rich fruits and sweet spice rolled from the glass like a shipment of rum and raisin ice cream on a storm-torn pirate ship. Nutmeg and cloves united with Brazil nuts, dates and prune juice to create a succulent storm that rained down a torrent of mulled wine and onion gravy. Then fudge, butterscotch and banana bread delivered rich and sweet flavours that cascaded into coffee, orange and truffle oil.
With water, pine forests appeared with almonds and walnuts that sweetened into marzipan. Burnt notes of soft brown sugar and singed sultanas married with calvados before ginger and blackcurrants appeared. Finally, maple syrup balanced a finish that was dominated by pumpkin seeds, bitter chocolate and dry tree bark.” $126
66.163 – A PERFECT FINISH TO A PERFECT DAY
This 8 year old Highlander is 59.3% after maturing in a 2nd fill barrel.
Flavour profile: Lightly peated.
Outturn: 164 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A sweet, seductive, smoky aroma mesmerised us like a barbecue in a pine tree forest near a sandy bay where every so often a salty sea breeze rustled through the trees. The taste neat had a touch of spice, an earthy floral note and plenty of fried bacon in salted butter with sweet maple syrup in the finish.
With water; dim the light, play soft music and serve scallops in an Asian-style dressing and do not forget the Chablis. After that take a bottle of this whisky and settle in for the night; a perfect finish to a perfect day.” $130
53.275 – GAUZE AND EFFECT
This 10 year old from Islay was matured in a refill hogshead and comes in at 59.9%.
Flavour profile: Peated.
Outturn: 253 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “We have pulled into a petrol station forecourt by the sea. Peated minerals, chalk, Febreze and lemon scented fabric softener fill the air. Then comes lobster pots, freshly creosoted fence posts, a stick of dynamite and a freshly washed hospital corridor. With water there is a spritz of fresh lemon juice, spray paint, old Marmite, sun-dried kelp, oyster sauce, lemon thyme and BBQ scallops.
The palate is immensely chiselled and medicinal. Raw sea salt, frying bacon, smoked kirsch, peated oats, grilling whelks, heather ale, sea greens and pure brine. Reduction opens up notes of juniper, damson panna cotta, green peppercorns in brine, beach sand, old boiler sheds, candle wax and iodine tablets.” $174.99