After the crazy-high ABV and Sherry-driven outturn we had in March, it would be understandable if the bottles we saw in April were a little bit… tamer in comparison. Well, the average cask strength may be lower in April, but this Outturn definitely does not lack flavour!
In our lineup of seven bottles, one of them is already sold out but we still have stock of the rest thus far. The bottle that is sold out went fast because we had limited stock and it was a 4.xxx (Highland Park). It was good, but in my opinion, it was not among the most interesting bottles in this month’s lineup. Here is what we do have to look at:
68.41 – HILL-WALKING HAPPINESS is an especially strong start in the order. Blair Athol is not a distillery that gets mentioned a lot (or at all, really) when you ask somebody (anybody, really) where their favourite bottles of Scotch come from. HILL-WALKING HAPPINESS shows very well, though and was a revelation the second time through the order in our online tasting after it had time to open up in the glass. This is a wonderfully expressive bottle and worth a look, given the price, and also given that the SMWS Canada chapter is donating all profits they make from this bottle to the Canadian Cancer Society.
26.149 – HEILAND COUP D’ETAT was the first Clynelish we have seen from the SMWS Canada since September of 2020′s 26.136 – CANDY FLOSS AND CAROUSELS, which is also a sister cask that was filled on the same date. CANDY FLOSS was a solid, refreshing dram, but the newer HEILAND COUP D’ETAT shows a lot more of the waxiness on the nose and palate that makes Clynelish such a hit with fans. The amount of waxiness is especially impressive given it is only 8 years old. Many Clynelish that I have tried don’t show quite like this in their youth. This was a favourite of many that attended our Online SMWS Outturn Tasting.
Up next was 35.275 – A DESERT ISLAND DR(E)AM, sporting the special black and gold livery. This is a curious and exciting dram that spent its entire 25 years in a 1st fill Toasted Oak Hogshead. I love its Bourbon-like style that had some in the tasting guessing that it was either a Single Grain or something else due to the sweet oak influence that gives it a more up-front sweet nose and palate. We have seen Glen Moray in this style from the SMWS in the past, but not for a while. If you are a long-time SMWS Member, you may have fond memories of long-gone SMWS 35′s such as 35.114 – A SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN, 35.138 – MISS AMERICAN PIE, and/or 35.181 – TO INFINITY…AND BEYOND! Even if that is not the case you should take a close look at A DESERT ISLAND DR(E)AM.
Our fourth in the lineup is another Blair Athol! The SMWS Canada does put two bottles from the same distillery in an Outturn every once in a while if they feel there is enough of a contrast in style between the two. 68.28 – MONKBERRY MOON DELIGHT definitely shows differently than the 68.41 we started the tasting with thanks to being matured in a re-charred hogshead that I think may have been a red-wine cask of some sort based on the nose and palate. MONKBERRY MOON DELIGHT is one of those drams that is probably unlike anything else sitting in your cupboard right now. Balance may not be the name of the game with this one, but it will have you listing a greater variety of aromas and flavours in your tasting notes than you would have thought possible for one dram to show. Given the price, it might be worth nabbing a bottle to see what I am talking about.
I won’t spend too much time talking about 4.257 – GOING THE EXTRA MILE(S) since it is already sold out. Suffice to say it was a solid and sherry finished Highland Park. One member mentioned he thought it showed much better than the current official releases from the distillery and that may have had something to do with how popular it was.
We then ventured further into peated territory with 66.176 – JE SUIS BUCHERON ET JE VAIS BIEN. My french is terrible, but after running the phrase through Google Translate I found it roughly means “I AM A LUMBERJACK AND I’M OKAY” in English. Any bottle that references Monty Python is worth the cost of the purchase in my book, but this Ardmore would have been worth it even without that.
Last but not least we have 53.239 – INTENSE SEASIDE EXPERIENCE. What can I say about this one? It is a Caol Ila, and it is wonderful and it shows the distillery character in all of its oily, salty, citrus, seaside and sweet barley-driven glory.
There you have it, that is your SMWS Canada Outturn for April of 2021. If you want to peruse what we have available from the lineup without my own silly notes you can check them here. If you want to see what else we have available in the way of these awesome green bottles you can see our entire stock online here.
See you all in May!
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
68.41 – HILL-WALKING HAPPINESS
This 11 year old from the Highlands was matured in a 1st fill hogshead and comes in at 54.8%.
Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet.
Outturn: 295 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A clean, fresh nose of cereal and wood (tea chests, polished wood, cardboard, straw, weaving looms and ‘my outdoor gear cupboard’) – then sugared almonds, donuts and chocolate raisins to balance. Our palates tingled with ginger snaps, cinnamon stick, leather and nutmeg – plus chocolate toffee éclairs, vanilla and cinnamon swirls.
Adding water, our noses found burlap, dried herbs, liquorice root, orange oil and putty, with ice-cream wafers and Tunnock’s Snowballs (chocolate and coconut-covered marshmallows). The palate now became sweeter – toffee, walnut whip, spun sugar and apple crumble topping; with wood spices, beeswax, white pepper and lemon cough drops to finish.” GIVING SPIRIT BOTTLE – read more about this program here.
26.149 – HEILAND COUP D’ETAT
This 8 year old Highlander comes from a 2nd fill barrel and is 58.1%.
Flavour profile: Oily & coastal.
Outturn: 252 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “We found this one superbly fresh and full of fabrics, smashed seashells, wet rocks, surf-drenched beach pebbles, chalk, bitter lemon and limoncello with soda water. Lots of white coastal flowers, sandalwood and scented waxiness. Classical and effortlessly brilliant. Reduction elevated the coastal freshness. Lots of dried lavender, lemon peel, pink grapefruit, citrus oils, watermelon liqueur and some tart gooseberry acidity.
The mouth opened with overflowing fruity abundance. Pineapple, bubble gum, blue raspberry popsicles, cream soda, and illegally sweet Irn Bru candy bars from the 1990s. With water there was fennel, lime curd and a generally more savoury, umami and punchy herbal quality. Putty, waxes, limestone and green pepper warming the aftertaste. Makes you excited for the future of whisky; a revolutionary spirit!” $155
35.275 – A DESERT ISLAND DR(E)AM
This 25 year old Speysider was matured in a 1st fill hogshead and is 59.6%.
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla.
Outturn: 180 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “‘Spectacular opulence, irresistible, luscious luxury and a simple wow’ were just a few of the ‘useful’ descriptors from the Panel members. A classic French loaf, pain d’épices, full of warm, comforting aromas thanks to the generous amount of honey and mixed spices (ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, mace and cloves) in the bread’s batter.
The taste neat had a fiery temper with plenty of exotic wood spiciness but at the same time that deep rich sweetness of a steaming cup of camomile, honey and vanilla herbal tea. A drop of water and it turned very juicy and very fruity – a desert island dr(e)am! Final comment “goddammit it is good”!”
68.28 – MONKBERRY MOON DELIGHT
This 8 year old Highlander comes in at 58.1% after maturing in a re-charred hogshead.
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits.
Outturn: 283 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “This one noses beyond its years with an initial wealth of figs, shoe polish, old school cream sherry, new leather shoes, plum wine, five spice, wine cellar must, cognac spilled on old furniture and coconut cream. Water brings out more tertiary complexities such as strawberry wine, paper ash, dry earth, sawdust, old toolbox, metal polish, blueberry cheesecake, black forest gateaux and a creamy pint of stout.
The mouth opens on bourbon biscuits, grape must, liquorice, milk chocolate, black tea, wasabi dusted biltong, pencil shavings in apple juice and blood orange. With water there’s pineapple upside-down cake, caramelized demerara sugar, poached peaches, apricots and hints of fruity red chili and hot paprika.”
4.257 – GOING THE EXTRA MILE(S)
From Orkney, this 15 year old spent 13 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being transferred to a 1st fill Pedro Ximenez hogshead and comes in at 56.6%.
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits.
Outturn: 256 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “We imagined finishing the Camino de Santiago trail that leads to the shrine of the apostle St. James in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in NW Spain. As we sat on a pew, ‘tired but happy’, the giant incense-burner started to swing. On the palate we were going the extra mile(s) to the coast, to Finisterre, the end of the known world in the Middle Ages.
After a drop of water we had very old sweet wine extremely concentrated, sweet, sour and smoky – but all perfectly balanced! This we had with Idiazabal cheese, lightly smoked with a smooth and nutty flavour as we watched the sunset over the Atlantic. After 13 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead we transferred this whisky into a 1st fill Pedro Ximenez hogshead.”
$219.99 SOLD OUT
66.176 – JE SUIS BUCHERON ET JE VAIS BIEN
This 14 year old Highlander spent 12 years in a bourbon hogshead before transfer to a 2nd fill red wine barrique, and is 60.1%.
Flavour profile: Lightly peated.
Outturn: 264 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “The panel noted a boisterous and playful aroma full of poster paints in an artist’s studio, old oxidatively aged wines, smoked blackcurrant, sautéed frog legs in butter, miso broth, mushroom powder and black peppered biltong. With reduction, we encountered a lumberjack’s woodshed, full of cold axe heads, freshly split logs and oiled chainsaw. Add to that roof pitch, freshly laid tarmac and fermenting lemons.
The palate was surprisingly saline with salt-baked venison, caviar, salted pistachios and sheep wool oils. Water brought the warmth of horseradish, English mustard powder, Belgian farmhouse ale, duck eggs, pickled ginger and sweetened cough medicine. Matured for 12 years in a bourbon hogshead before transfer to a 2nd fill red wine barrique.”
$164 SOLD OUT
53.329 – INTENSE SEASIDE EXPERIENCE
From Islay, this 12 year old comes from a refill hogshead and is 56.5%.
Flavour profile: Peated.
Outturn: 287 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A myriad of aromas: peat smoke drifting towards the harbour, seared scallops and salted prawns, treacle tart, Big Red gum, antiseptic cream and Olbas Oil. The palate is that classic combo of intense sweet and smoky flavours, with salt and pepper savouriness, followed by liquorice and bonfire embers on the finish.
The reduced nose gets seaside swimming pools, ship timbers and tarry ropes, but with liquorice Allsorts and Jamaica cake sweetness, and pulled pork with barbecue sauce (including the barbecue too). The palate becomes sweeter and easier (though still mouth-drawing) – blackberry jam, cinnamon swirls, hot cross buns, kippers, ash and soot.”