Another month, another brilliant range of whiskies from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, or as we in the know like to call them, the SMWS! This month’s lineup ranges from 10 to 27 years of age, and the oldest of that lineup is especially interesting. The distillery, who’s name cannot be explicitly mentioned to protect the innocent, is sister distillery to the closed Brora distillery in the town of the same name. Its whiskies are are distinct with a beeswax-honey character. The distillery never bottles anything older than 14 years of age, and usually from Ex-American oak casks. But here we have a 27 year, from a Refill Sherry Butt, a very unusual expersion of _______, and a stunning dram. If you missed out on this month’s tastings, be sure to pop into the store for a wee taste!
- 26.89:Â An exotic tearoom experience – 56.6% – 27 Year – Refill Sherry Butt – Highland/Northern – Outturn: 485 Bottles – Panel’s Tasting Note: “Lemon drizzle cake, dried pineapple cubes and waxiness on the nose give way to fresh ginger, gorse flowers and wood glue. Tasted neat, there was a spicy pepper heat and the waxy notes. The taste also offered peaches, vanilla pods and an apricot cake. Adding water led to notes of vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce, lemon sorbet, spiced apple tea and an indulgent orange spiced soap! The taste was warming and exotic introducing Turkish delight, old fashioned perfume (lavender) and a hint of Moroccan spices. This cask comes from the Brora distillery, whose name means â€˜sloped gardenâ€™.” Drinking Tip: “A dram for after church high tea.” – $206.99
- G8.3: Surprise me… - 59.0% – 23 Year – Refill Hogshead – Grain – Outturn: 250 Bottles – Panel’s Tasting Note: “Even at this age the spirit is still spirited; the aroma is of golden syrup and toffee popcorn, with juicy green apples and pears behind; very slightly woody and dusty: â€˜a cupboard shelf covered in Fablonâ€™. The taste is sweet and sour – kiwi fruits, lime cordial, Seville orange, sour cherry, stewed tea â€“ with a short finish. Reduced, the aroma initially becomes more oaky (a musty sea chest, a brush shop), then sweeter â€“ lemon puffs, lemon meringue pie. A soft mouth feel; a sweetish start (â€˜white jelly babiesâ€™), then bitter lemon, with a very short finish. This large grain distillery near Alloa, built 1806, closed in 1993.” Drinking Tip: “Frozen, as an aperitif.” – $178.99
- 35.86: Sumptuous breakfast dram – 59.3% – 11 Year – 1st Fill Sherry Butt – Speyside – Outturn: 629 Bottles -Â Panel’s Tasting Note: “The nose suggested sumptuous breakfasts â€“ cinnamon toast, marmalade, bran flakes, prunes, coffee, pancakes with syrup,cranberries and Nutella on toasted bagels; beyond breakfast, some nutty sherry, garam masala, Deep Heat and polished oak. The palate was ultra-rich â€“ extravagantly boasting its showy wealth of burnt fruit cake, coffee grinds, hot-cross buns, cloves, treacle,orange oil and leather. The reduced nose introduced menthol and eucalyptus, liquorice and Bombay mix, while the palate acquired a juicier sweetness â€“ Toblerone, kiwi and liquorice and blackcurrant. The distillery, once a brewery, was previously owned by Thorneâ€™s.” – Drinking Tip: “After dinner (or with a sumptuous breakfast)” – $119.99
- 121.62:Â Steak and ale pie - 54.2% – 16 Year – 1st Fill Sherry Puncheon – Island – Outturn: 547 Bottles – Panel’s Tasting Note: “Smells of a brewery mash room – dried yeast, real ale, hops and doughy bready aromas; but a whiff of plasticy antiseptic, wet peat, orange syrup and tobacco brought us back. Lightly rich to taste with cookie dough, woody tobacco, honey and a bitter aftertaste; two Panellists enjoyed steak & ale puff pastry pie. With water we now had baked apples, pork sausages, Daddies brown sauce, honeyed ham with cloves and figs. On the palate it was surprisingly light but greasy (likened by one to a greasy meat pan before deglazing to make gravy) with apple strudel, over-brewed black tea and brown sauce. From the island dubbed Scotland in miniature.” Drinking Tip: “Perfect accompaniment to a meal of steak and ale pie.” $149.99
- 4.178:Â Eating ice cream in a humidor – 59.1% – 12 Year – First Fill Barrel – Islands/Orkney – Outturn: 215 Bottles -Â Panel’s Tasting Note: “A mixture of sweet and fruity notes are predominant to start with; lemon meringue pie, buttered mandarin orange cake, rum soaked raisin and passion fruit sorbet. With time sultanas and nutmeg appear but all the while there is an ever-so-light clean smoke prevalent. The taste neat is like eating an ice cream in a humidor. Less sweet than on the nose with maritime flavours of oysters, shrimps and other shellfish more dominant. After adding water the aroma changes to spare ribs on a barbeque but still sweet; Scotch pancakes, milk chocolate and a flaming banana pizza. The taste is now minty, cooling and slightly salty and in the finish like aniced milk shake. This sample comes from the distillery whose 18 year-old single malt was crowned â€˜best spirit in the worldâ€™” Drinking Tip: “A dessert dram or whilst waiting for your coffee after dessert.” – $124.99
- 66.42:Â Snorkelling in the bathtub - 54.5% – 10 Year – Refill Barrel – Highland – Outturn: 232 Bottles – Panel’s Tasting Note: “We were greeted by a warm wood burning fire with some heather and peat being thrown on top. Additional aromas are that of bacon frazzles, rosemary oil, ham steak and dried cured salty salami. In the background is the smell of a plastic paddling pool in the warm sunshine. The taste was like the end of a cigar; sweet, smoky and hot. The heat was also like that of hot metal grills barbecuing burgers and sausages. With water, aromas of grilled chicken with a lemon and coriander marinade next to well-used snorkelling equipment with a hint of salt and chlorine appearing. The taste is now like a citrus refresher sweetie, scented candles, Bavarian smoked cheese and an ashy charcoal note in the finish.” Drinking Tip: “Setting up a barbecue next to the swimming pool.” – $114.99
- 53.194:Â A CalMac ferry dram – 60.1% – 17 Year – Refill Sherry Butt – Islay – Outturn: 605 Bottles -Â Panel’s Tasting Note: “The nose gave us fruit salad chews, sherbet lemons, blackberries, lime and oysters, but mainly it was smoke, melting tar, brine, Germolene, coal-tar soap, seaweed, cigar ash, rubber tires and exhaust fumes (like a CalMac ferry). The palate delivered loads of ash, soot and sweet smoke â€“ chilli-roasted nuts and a charcoal barbeque with smoked mackerel and charred prawns. The reduced nose offered first aid boxes, canvas, burnt mackerel skin and something earthy (terracotta plant pots, grow-bags). The taste was sweeter â€“ peanut M&Ms and candy-coated fennel seeds â€“ a fine sweet-salty balance with lots of heat, from the biggest distillery on Islay.” Drinking Tip: “Chill out with this, sitting on the harbour wall watching the boats.” – $161.99
Past Releases Still Available can be viewed on our Scotch Malt Whisky Society pages.