A new Outturn doesn’t make everything right in the world, but boy is it ever a sight for sore eyes these days! Creature comforts indeed. No matter how busy work is, find myself impatiently looking forward to these monthly sessions. I feel privileged to be in a position where I get to try the new offerings from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada every month Below are my thoughts on the bottles from the November Outturn, and more importantly below my drivel are the notes from the SMWS tasting panel on each bottle as well.
We only have one more Outturn to go through for the year, which is both a blessing and a curse. I am sure many of us would love to have been done with 2020 way back in mid-March for reasons I need not go into at this point. 2020 has been memorable in ways we would all like to forget, and it isn’t even quite finished yet. We, however, would love to be done with it.
As long as it leaves these bottles behind for us all to enjoy. Enough of that though! Here are my thoughts on the SMWS Canada’s November of 2020 Outturn:
- 35.246 – Is this the first 35 we have seen since January’s WALKING INTO A FRUIT PUNCH? Maybe I am wrong, but Glen Moray has not been as prolific in Outturns this year as it was in past years. VITAMIN DE TABLE is a curious name. Hmm, it does have a bit of a chewable vitamin thing going on on the nose. I also get a bit of orange pop, maraschino cherry, vanilla extract, and a light dusting of dunnage and old wood. On the palate, it starts off oily before attacking the tongue with a combination of round but zingy fruit notes and Tang / Orange Kool-Aid. That last note might make this whisky seem anemic on the palate, but it is not. It is round and fruity with a dash of spice and it settles in nicely for an easy finish. First impression: I miss seeing more Glen Moray at this age from the SMWS – this is like seeing a good friend for the first time since Covid: It is comforting to pick back up right where you left off as if nothing happened in between.
- 71.68 - Chewing gum flavours seem to feature prominently in my own wacky tasting notes, so JUICY FRUIT MEETS BIG RED should be right in my wheelhouse. Let’s see. On the nose, the first fill barrel gets top billing but doesn’t leave any off-notes in this Glenburgie. Oak staves show up in a big way, but not in an overly aggressive manner. Cinnamon toast and cherry pie plus a dash of mint leaf and waxy fruit skins (mangos, apples, etc). The palate gives exactly what the name says with a combination of fruits and spice all dancing around at once along with a nice waxy note. It even has a chewing gum note to it. At $116, this whisky is worth a look.
- 58.23 – Onto CURRY CORNER. This is the first Strathisla since May’s SWEET AND JUICY – DRY FINISH. Upon my first nosing of this one comes off as a combination of the two before it: big oak, lush fruit, waxy. A touch grassy, but also pastry-like at the same time. Is that even possible?!? The palate starts with creamy custard before adding dollops of glazed cherries and raspberries, Grand Marnier and ginger liqueur. Very pastry-like on a palate. Maybe I haven’t been drinking enough whisky lately, but three drams into this Outturn and I would take a second taste of all three. Will I feel the same about the next one?
- 10.188 - Okay. Sherried Bunnahabhain. This one is already sold out at KWM, so my tasting note likely won’t do much for you one way or another. Part of the reason it is sold out is that it is Bunnahabhain from a Sherry Butt. Surprisingly, we have not seen much of this style from the SMWS in Canada, especially considering it is essentially the de facto house style for Bunnahabhain Distillery’s official bottlings. This is also an SMWS Islay Festival bottling – which is likely the other reason it sold out so fast. Anyhow, let’s give it a go! Nose: yup, that would be sherry. Salty dark chocolate, espresso grounds, pipe tobacco, and fruit leather wrapped around a pepperoni stick. There is a touch of something savoury in there. It is not off-putting though, at least not to me. The palate is BIG and firey. It is not very balanced but it is interesting. Salty black licorice, dates, stewed plums, more dark chocolate and a touch of chilli flakes and black peppercorns. This whisky is big and aggressive. I get the love this one has gotten, but I would rather have another sip of any of the three before this personally. Easy for me to say since this one is sold out!
- 66.144 – PEATABIX might just be the perfect name for young-ish Ardmore. I have talked a lot in the past about how this Highland distillery typically comes off as being sweet and cereal driven for me, and I have mentioned smoky Weetabix as a note on many past SMWS Ardmores… The nose on this guy does indeed elicit that note again, along with another typical Ardmore note: bacon. Along with those two notes I also get notes of tinned peaches and apricots and a touch of antiseptic cleaning solution – but in a good way! The palate is malty and full of bacon again. It has the makings of a complete breakfast: pancakes with a molasses-driven syrup plus real, thick whipped cream on top, bacon on the side and a fruit cup that looks delicious, but I couldn’t possibly. I will just have a few more sips from this cup of diner coffee. Too many calories in this one! I am stuffed. Tell the server I will just take the bill and then roll myself out.
- 53.314 – Here we are on Islay, tasting a Caol Ila. The nose is all pencil shavings, Nutella, and a typical lime margarita nose. It also has a nice touch of olive oil and lemongrass in there. On the palate I get more of the olive oil, basil, tequila, salt and lime, salted caramel, plus floral and earthy peat, all wrapped up in soothing lozenge form.
- R11.5 – Right on – another rum! This time around it comes to us from Worthy Park distillery in Jamaica. And is 66.1% ABV. Oof! Time to give it a go. On the nose: Yup, that is rum alright. Big sugarcane notes, molasses, pancake syrup, bananas foster, lavender and vanilla beans. The palate on this guy is very approachable and complex for 66.1%. It is bananas all over the place, but has a wonderful herbaceous note like Green Chartreuse as well. The sugarcane is there to keep things sweet and light. It is creme caramel, with mint leaves on top and the best possible cough syrup drizzled over it all.
What an Outturn!
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35.246 – VITAMIN DE TABLE
This 23 year old Speysider comes in at 52.5% after maturing in a 1st fill barrel.
Flavour profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow.
Outturn: 216 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose opens with buttery shortbread, soft cereals, cake dough and freshly baked chocolate croissants. Add to that whipped cream, bailed hay, straw mats, canola oil, shoe polish and mandarin liqueur. With a splash of water out comes green tea, elegant burlap notes, honey melon, heather flowers, honeysuckle, pollen, citrus infused mineral water and rum-soaked toffee sponge.
The palate at full strength offers cooking oils, barley sugars, caramelized figs, milk bottle candies softened in a warm pocket, sultanas in muesli and yeast extracts. With water there are lovely subtle notes of mint tea, clove oil, white asparagus, pear drops, cotton candy, tree bark, apple sauce and eucalyptus tobacco. Some orange vitamin tablets fizz in the finish.” $342
71.68 – JUICY FRUIT MEETS BIG RED
This 8 year old Speysider was matured in a 1st fill barrel and comes in at 57.4%.
Flavour profile: Light & delicate.
Outturn: 221 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “An amazing dram for its age. It filled our nostrils with fruity, citric, floral notes – apple turnover, tutti-frutti ice cream, lemon cake, elderflower and fruit Mentos – we also got fresh-cut wood, but it was mainly perfumed and attractive. The palate was fruity and exotic: peach, nectarine, caramelized pineapple, fruit gums and pears cooked in honey with clove and cinnamon – the finish also warmed up with pepper and liquorice lozenges.
The reduced nose – Jelly Babies, sherbet straws, pear flan and fudge with cherry pieces. The palate now wowed us with rhubarb and custard sweets, chewing pineapple ice-lolly sticks, Juicy Fruit and Big Red.” $116
58.23 – CURRY CORNER
From Speyside, this 9 year old comes in at 60.4% after maturing in a 1st fill barrel.
Flavour profile: Spicy & dry.
Outturn: 232 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A basket of orchard fruits at first with apples, pears and plums followed by a little more exotic papaya and star fruit eventually developing into nettle tea served with rhubarb scones. On the palate neat however we got an Indian curry called lamb Rogan josh with cinnamon, coriander and asafoetida powder, garlic and ginger.
When adding water we moved to Thailand and the smell of kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and a variety of spices made us all prepare a chicken red curry which, just before serving with jasmine rice, we sprinkled with basil leaves.” $138
10.188 – NEW ACQUAINTANCE
Bottled for the 2020 Islay Festival, this 14 year old comes in at 62.5% after maturing in refill sherry butt.
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits.
Outturn: 489 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A collective ‘oooohhhh…’ then awed hush from the Panel as we encountered mushroom-accented cough syrup before a big enveloping hug of old school, oxidative sherry. Touches of aged sherry vinegar, bitter chocolate, damp earthen floored dunnage, pipe tobacco, burlap, lamp oil, game meats and Christmas cake. A curtain of luscious rancio drawn across everything. Add water and there’s dates, prune juice, sooty chimney dust, beef stock, miso broth, very old balsamic, strawberry laces, pinecones, petrichor, trampled ferns and blackcurrant cordial. Some pickled walnuts and bitter espresso too.
The mouth is divine! Old salty solera wood, bitter herbal essences, cumin powder, rye bread, ginger and nibbling tannins. With water there’s mole sauce, robust nuttiness, the salinity of surf-washed pebbles, green walnut wine, herbal medicines, caramelized brown sugars, tarragon and celery salts. Pure, filthily wonderful, old-style sherried perfection!”
$218 SOLD OUT
66.144 – PEATABIX
This 12 year old Highlander comes in at 60.8% after maturing in a refill hogshead.
Flavour profile: Lightly peated.
Outturn: 271 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A potent and classic example thought the Panel. The nose displays big and uncompromising notes of smoked applewood, bacon fat, BBQ char, bitumen, damp earth and fresh rosemary. Develops an intense farmyard edge, full of hay loft, cow shed and old tool boxes. Some WD40 and burlap as well. Water gives honey roast parsnip, smoked flowers and patchouli oil with a hint of myrrh.
The mouth explodes with soft, organic peats, hickory smoke, smoked oatmeal and a bruising minerality. Notes of peated muesli, smoked butter and cheese scones. With water there is tar resin, sorrel, bay leaf, rhubarb jelly, cured game meats and gentian eau de vie. A wonderful wee monster!” $169
53.314 – ANTHRACITE SEASONING DUST
From Islay, this 10 year old comes in at 58.6% after maturing in a refill hogshead.
Flavour profile: Peated.
Outturn: 304 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A warm simmer of fermenting citrus juices prickles the nose. Also citrus rinds, chalk dusters, limoncello, tart green apple, cut grass, sourdough, beach pebbles, smouldering twiglets, burning hay, clover honey, creel nets, tar extract, gentian eau de vie, scrunched newspaper and raw kiln peat smoke. Water brings smoked elastoplasts, canvas, pink sea salt in porridge, kippers, lemon juice on raw oysters and liquid Magi seasoning mixed with brine and malt vinegar.
Unreduced, the palate is chock full of paraffin, tar, cod liver oil, beach wood ash, carbolic soap, smoked white fish, salted almonds, gauze, antiseptic, anchovy paste and peated marmite. Water brings out a smoked menthol quality. Dried seaweed, anthracite dust, lime juice, aspirin tablets crushed up with mineral salts, sheep wool doused in turpentine, eucalyptus, white mushrooms and green peppercorns.” $180
R11.5 – FLAMING RUM BANANAS
This 7 year old Jamaican rum comes from a refill barrel and is 66.1%.
Outturn: 273 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Plenty of sweetness and spiciness on the nose neat; breadfruit coconut curry and flaming rum bananas – sautéed in brown sugar, cinnamon and butter, doused with over proof rum and lit, served over honeycomb ice cream. On the palate an explosion of pink peppercorns and black cumin seeds before a deep sweetness of rich caramel slices and pomegranate molasses coffee cake took centre stage.
When added, a liberal amount of water which, given time, developed into the fruity, floral sweetness of a vibrant tropical garden in a rain forest. Just relax on a garden bench and enjoy the peace with iced liquorice cinnamon tea and a slice of banana cake.” $170