I am behind in posting this, so lets get down to it! Here are my thoughts on the October Outturn for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada;
- 82.22 – SUNSHINE AFTER THE RAIN might just be the first Glencadam SMWS bottling to hit Canada! On the nose: mint, sage, lemons, chamomile. On the palate: Juicy with a spicy zing to it. Nutty notes like pistachios and macadamias along with pear puree and a peppercorn-like heat.. The herbaceousness on the nose gives way to to the fruitiness and spice on the palate. The clean, structured style of this one impresses me. I find it reminiscent of official Glencadam bottles, but having it at cask strength is the way to go!
- 59.59 – Ahh, Teaninich. I have been really enjoying any Teaninich I have tasted over the past few years. SPOCK’S EARWAX does have some wax notes to it - but at least it doesn’t smell Vulcanized. It is also missing the green and grassy notes I get a lot of the Teaninich’s I have had. Illogical! The nose evokes creme brulee, tapioca, creamy mango bubble tea plus a dash of citrus and mint. The palate shows starts soft but builds up to a wonderful juiciness. Mango, pineapple and fruit cup syrup all jump to the fore. I cannot tell a lie: The whisky is soft and doesn’t have a very long finish, but man is it delicious.
- A5.2 - Now, we shift gears, going from distilled grain to distilled grapes with this Armagnac. MUSK-COATED CANDYFLOSS is full of maraschino cherries, maple candies, and fennel along with a touch of leather jacket and shoe polish on the nose. To taste it has plenty of cherries again, plus molasses, earl grey tea, cloves, and orange slices. It is a shame we cannot do in-store tastings right now because this would have been fun to see people react to blind. I feel like there are a decent amount of rum notes in this Armagnac. The duality makes it a fun sipper.
- 37.131 – Back to Scotch – this time from Cragganmore Distillery. I had to look up the first word in the name for TARANTELLA TONGUE DANCING. Tarantella apparently is a rapid southern Italian dance or piece of music for said dance that is written in a quick 6/8 time. Sounds like this should be an interesting strike to the palate then! Firstly, the nose evokes a lot of the STR cask the whisky was finished in with plenty of polished wood and fruit notes such as mandarin oranges, cherries, and ripe bananas. On the palate I don’t personally get the dance, but I do get the intermingling of cask char, fruity wine notes and orange marmalade. It is sweet up front with some nice wood spice notes. I can’t really pick it apart more than that at the moment so I will just say if you are a fan of STR casks, you should check this one out.
- 29.257 – I am almost afraid to talk about this one. It is a 21-year-old single cask Laphroaig, so it be two things at the very least: expensive and good whisky. The SMWS Canada put this bottle in front of the tasting panel for the Alberta Beverage Awards and what do you know! It tied for Best in Class in the Whisky Category. How good is it though? Is OUT OF LEFT FIELD worth the money? I have a mortgage and three young kids, so my mind says no. My nose however wants to be stuck in a glass containing this whisky 24/7. Soft coastal peat, cooked pineapple, dates, cherries, Fisherman’s Friend lozenges, railroad ties, lemon meringue pie, and Parma Violets. The palate liquid smoke, char-grilled pineapple, fresh blackberries, chamomile tea, lemon honey ginger tea, black liquorice tea, and a dash of salt. To me, it is surprising that this was finished for more than a year in a first fill Oloroso cask. The clean sherry is there but it never manages to overpower the whisky within. This is a great bottle because of that.
- Battle Axe – This is a peat and Islay-driven blended malt bottled at 50% ABV. The youngest whisky in the blend is 8 years old. The nose is oily, salty and smoky with citrus notes. It makes me think of Caol Ila of the hop. On the palate I get the same, but with plenty more going on such as sweet coconut water, honey, banana chips, vanilla ice cream, and dark chocolate on the finish. This is another very well-but together blend from the SMWS.
- 16.41 – This is the second peated Glenturret that we have seen from the SMWS Canada. The first surprised many with the style of peat this Highland distillery evokes; It definitely is not coastal. For me, the nose is full of dense chocolate fudge, fresh coffee grounds, and black forest cake. The palate spins out more fruit and sweet notes than the nose with marshmallows melting in hot chocolate, or perhaps between the sandwich of graham cracker and chocolate in a s’more. Apple pie, and the savoury and sweet notes of sauteed mushrooms on steak. The combination of dark earthiness and sweet notes work very, very well.
You can more information on these as well as other SMWS bottles by visiting our website.
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82.22 – SUNSHINE AFTER THE RAIN
This 8 year old Highlander was matured in a 2nd fill barrel and is 62.6%.
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla.
Outturn: 235 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “An intriguing start brought us green bell peppers, nettle tea and gorse bushes in bloom alongside apple sauce, ginger and rhubarb with a squeeze of lime. Flavours danced on the tongue with chilies, cloves and the fizziness of fermenting apples before sweeter characters of Madeira cake and honey emerged.
After a dash of water however we found ourselves in a shower of sherbet, fruit jelly sweets and cherry cola. Caramel and honey rained down in a precipitous display of sweet delights and splashed onto blueberries, blackcurrants and juniper beside cranberry jam and coriander before the finish arrived donned in strong green tea, dark chocolate and tree bark.” $136.99
59.59 – SPOCK’S EARWAX
Matured for 9 years in a bourbon hogshead before transfer to a “number 4″ heavily charred new oak hogshead, this 10 year old from the Highlands is 55.2%.
Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet.
Outturn: 297 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “There’s sweet pastries and runny honey at first. Then molten toffee, salted caramel, coconut wafers, gorse, heather flowers, talcum powder and shilling ales. A hearty dollop of fruity muesli too. A little water brings turmeric and dried thyme. A bouquet garni of herbs, shoe polish, new leather, pine cones and Earl Grey tea. Some bandages wrapped around a light sootiness and some slabs of wet concrete.
The palate fizzes like lemon vitamin tablets in soda water. There’s sheep wool, soft medical waxes, butter biscuits, aged calvados, green banana, heather honey and lemon balm. After reduction there’s more warm spices, lime pith, pink grapefruit, tarragon, wax, tobacco leaf, green pepper and potpourri. Matured for 9 years in a bourbon hogshead before transfer to a “number 4″ heavily charred new oak hogshead.”
A5.2 – MUSK-COATED CANDYFLOSS
This 2005 vintage Armagnac was matured in an Armagnac barrel and comes in at 59.4%.
Outturn: 606 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A pool of burnished teak and maple syrup. The nose starts with a savoury crème brûlée crust, served on a pecan tart and grated grapefruit zest. In the background is a wrapping of musk and dark bottled aftershave. A journey of night into day, in the distance a wisp of smoke lingers and introduces a syrup coated lift.
The palate starts with candyfloss dissolving in the mouth, closely followed by a slap of citrus fruit zest dusted with a soft effervescence. It finishes on a burning sweet note with the zest faded away, bringing back the caramel from the beginning.” $166.99
37.131 – TARANTELLA TONGUE DANCING
This 15 year old Speysider is 58.3%, and after 15 years in ex-bourbon wood it was transferred this to a 1st fill shaved, toasted and re-charred barrique.
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits.
Outturn: 251 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose is a cracker – treacle tart, syrup sponge and Toffifays; caramel latte, sherry trifle (with orange jelly), coffee kisses, flowers and wine-soaked oak. The palate is deep as Mariana and weighty as Nigerian Guinness in a clay pot – burnt fruit cake, raisins flamed in spiced rum, clove-flavoured gingerbread and leather.
With water, the nose gets spice-laden incense, liquorice bullets, brandy snaps, espresso and Battenberg cake. The palate is easier but still tannic – caramelized sugar, barbecued pineapple, Butterkist popcorn and tar – dancing the tarantella on the tongue. After 15 years in ex-bourbon wood we transferred this to a 1st fill shaved, toasted and re-charred barrique.” $183.99
29.257 – OUT OF LEFT FIELD
Winner of Culinaire Magazine’s “Best in Class” award at the recent Alberta Beverage Awards, this 21 year old from Islay spent 19 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being transferred to a 1st fill Oloroso hogshead for the remainder of its maturation, and comes in at 45.8%.
Flavour profile: Lightly peated.
Outturn: 175 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “This one is really out of left field – unexpected and unusual but we all gave it thumbs up. The nose has fruity perfumes riding a tame wave of clean smoke – tar on a raspberry bush, fruity hookahs, salted blackcurrant, crab claws with grapefruit, waxed lemons and melissa – oh, and hospital corridors.
The palate is a sharp, citric smoke bomb; the usual soot, tar, ash and liquorice co-existing with astringent fruits – salty lemon, passion fruit, crab apples and blackcurrant; something slightly mentholic and medicinal, and then a seriously dry finish of ginger, wasabi, leather, humbugs and liquorice. Single cask samples do not always conform to the template. After 19 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead we transferred this whisky to an Oloroso hogshead for the remainder of its maturation.” $514.99
Scotch Malt Whisky Society – BATTLE AXE
Another in the Society’s heresy series of blended malts, this is a blend of heavily peated whiskies from Islay, all from refill hogsheads; the youngest whisky in the batch is 8 years old and was bottled at 50%.
Flavour profile: Peated.
Outturn: 1957 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “This blended malt is a celebration of those heavily peated whiskies produced on the island of Islay. It is unapologetic in its intensity and spans across the earthy, floral, coastal and medicinal elements that can be found in this style.
The blacksmith clinked and clanked industriously at the anvil, bending black metal to his will. Axes, spears and lucky horseshoes were forged in stifling temperatures in preparation for battle. We travelled from our settlement at the bay, beyond the tar pit to the battleground, where peat bog goblins pelted us mercilessly with pears poached in petrol and flaming lemons studded with liquorice root. By the time the battle was won the sky was filled with purple plumes of heather fuelled smoke, the earth scorched, the surrounding flora ablaze.
Back home we found comfort around campfires and celebrated with oysters and mead. Retiring to bed, our stone huts exuded heavy aromas of damp earth and our peat fires were at their smouldering end as we drifted off into slumber. Someone stoked the flames with camphor, eucalyptus and dried heather. By morning our PPM levels were significant.” $130
16.41- COSY CONTENTMENT
This 9 year old Highlander comes in at 61.4% after maturing in a re-charred hogshead.
Flavour profile: Peated.
Outturn: 264 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “We huddled around burning logs as heather crackled in the heat and the earth scorched beneath the embers. Sweet smells came from sizzling bacon and honey-glazed ham whilst walnuts and macadamias toasted in a pan over the flames. Then through the smoke came a fruity note of black cherries with a spicy edge of rye bread with honey. A constant suggestion of steam engines heralded puffs of smoke combined with oily rags and old boots but sweetness prevailed with a maple syrup and pecan Danish.
A few drops of water delivered nutty notes as tawny port joined walnut bread and later praline. The bacon now had a more salty character that mixed with coal dust and burnt wood that remained onto the finish to be joined by delicious chocolate brownies.” $143.99