October 2016 is an exciting month as far as the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is concerned, the club was launched in Canada at the Kensington Wine Market five years ago in October. Since then we’ve launched more than 425 different single cask single malts, as well as some grains and a few other treats. This month we have just such an “other treat”, C1: Nectar Celeste. It is the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s first ever bottling of Cognac, and was a big hit at the tastings. It is a fine, very elegant single cask cognac, and you don’t see those very often.
The most popular malt at the tastings in Calgary was, 10.90: Muckle, Massive intensity of smoke , and sadly they are all sold out. While the smoke was intense I found the peat to be the most prominent characteristic, reminiscent of falling face first into a bog… not that I’ve ever done that! The Orcadian, 4.217: Nordic nosh was also very popular, nearly selling out. It is a lighter style malt than its Highland Island distillery is known for, but very elegant! The peated Highland Malt, 66.82: Girtty turned pretty, was also popular at the tastings, and also nearly sold out… very savoury and bacon-y, it is a monster for both its sherry notes and phenolic levels!
My personal favourite malt of the month was 9.88: A heart starter, a 25 year old Speysider matured in a Refill Sherry Butt. I’m sipping some right now as a matter of fact, whilst preparing this post! Soft but very fruity, layered and spicy it is my kind of malt. It reminds me of some of the old vintage bottlings of the distillery (SMWS #9) Gordon & MacPhail is famous for. The final two malts had their fans as well, Hunter is in love with 55.24: Cherry pie moonshine and even though it is a beast 128.6: Rumbling, reverberating resonances was also popular. It was a stellar lineup for the Society’s 5th Anniversary in Canada! Here are the details on the range:
- 55.24: Cherry pie moonshine – 52.7% – 20 Year – 2nd Fill Hogshead – Speyside - Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet - Outturn: 189 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “We are in a scene from chapter two of Mark Twain’s book ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ back in the 19th century in the Midwest. Tom has to whitewash a big wooden fence but convinces his friends to pay him to have a go themselves. Evocative aromas of late summer cornfields, pumpkin pie, corned beef hash sandwiches and homemade lemonade fill the air. The taste neat was like corn on the cob with salted butter or homemade blackcurrant jam on crusty bread. Water added to that autumn feeling; root beer, candied ginger snaps and to top it all ‘cherry pie moonshine’.” Drinking tip: “Whilst reading the ‘Autobiography of Mark Twain’” – $199.99
- C1: Nectar Celester – 48.4% – XO (Blend of up to 50 years) – French Oak – Cognac, France - Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet - Outturn: 450 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “The nose neat had a magical intensity; wood smouldering through a magnifying glass, a soldering iron, a burning incense stick, campfire banana splits as well as curled-up treacle scones. The taste offered a pleasant heat with a tingly spiciness of cinnamon and aniseed combined with the creamy freshness of rum & raisin and elder flower & ginger ice cream. A drop of water released herbal/menthol aromas and we were transported into a warehouse on a hot day sharing ‘la part des anges’. Sweet and spicy right on the tip of the tongue and a wonderfully dry, slightly bitter chocolate finish – Celestial!” Drinking tip: “Try neat and then add a drop of water and wait” – $243
- 9.88: A heart starter – 55.3% – 25 Year – Refill Butt – Speyside - Flavour profile: Spicy & dry - Outturn: 542 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “Little aroma beyond ‘dry’ to start with: very dried fruits, dried out leather, ash, soot, but soon opens to present fruitcake mix, ‘over-steeped jasmine tea’, toasted Brazil nuts, warehouses, mushrooms. Nice texture; sweet overall but very tannic, even ascorbic; some burnt jam in the aftertaste and bitter coffee dregs and dark chocolate in the finish. Surprisingly, water introduces a meaty note – fresh tuna – with buttered croissant, high strength cocoa powder, then treacle toffee, fig pigs and salted caramel. Not so tannic now, with dry liquorice, coffee, dark chocolate and burnt toast. Very unlike the familiar light-bodied proprietary bottling.” Drinking tip: “In place of espresso” – $224.99
- 128.6: Rumbling, reverberating resonances- 59.9% – 7 Year – 1st Fill Madeira Hogshead - Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet - Outturn: 270 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “The nose had the deep sweetness of cinder toffee, dried dates, trifle, marshmallows and Black Forest cherry cake with chocolate shavings; it also had dessert wine and a furniture restorer’s workshop. The palate found old books in libraries, cherry brandy, Christmas pudding, mincemeat pies and after-dinner chocolate mints. The reduced nose had crème caramel and syrup tart, developing into spicy Oddfellows sweets, Aftershock liqueur and rumbling, reverberating resonances of leather handbags, pipe tobacco and raisins. Intriguingly, this whisky emerged from the cask with a natural haze. It is perfectly delicious.” Drinking tip: “After dinner – ideally Christmas dinner” – $182.99
- 4.217: Nordic nosh - 53.9% – 19 Year – Refill Hogshead – Orkney - Flavour profile: Oily & coastal - Outturn: 234 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “We felt like filling our plate from the buffet at a garden party. Whilst some got smoked mackerel salad with beetroot, sweet potato and horseradish seasoned with red wine vinaigrette, others enjoyed sweet cured marinated herring and new potato salad with sour cream. The main course was sweet and slightly ashy, barbecued succulent herbal sausages, Swedish meatballs, dry-cured smoked ham and summertime sweet pickles. With water, the vegetarian option, grilled glazed kebab skewers with zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes and pepper in a honey mustard oil dressing and in the finish, slightly burnt with a hint of ash, marshmallows.” Drinking tip: “At a garden barbecue party” – $214.99
- 10.90: Muckle, Massive intensity of smoke - 61.4% – 9 Year – Refill Hogshead – Islay - Outturn: 258 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “The nose chucked a muckle, massive, immeasurable immensity of peat-smoke and smouldering sawdust all over us – we also found dark toffee, grilled prawns, liquorice, American Cream Soda and a wet dog scampering through flower-beds. The palate was simply breath-taking – tar, smoke, ash and liquorice – but developing cheekily in the glass – barbecued scallops, grass, earth, stone, school cagoules and waxed jackets. The reduced nose gave us nougat, dark honey, heather and ‘Snickers in a humidor’. The palate now – no nonsense, big peat smoke – but balanced with sweetness and savoury pork crackling. Even meek peat freaks will keech their breeks for this!” Drinking tip: “End of the night dram or after serious exertion” – $130.99
- 66.82: Girtty turned pretty – 57.5% – 17 Year – Refill Gorda – Highland - Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits - Outturn: 606 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “This smells like a heavily Sherry-fed fruit cake, a strong chocolate Porter matured in Sherry casks, a roast leg of lamb with rosemary jus and burnt honey, orange and clove glazed ham; those were just some of the remarks. A unique nose neat was followed by God’s wrath in the form of smoke, embers and brimstone on the palate sweetened by melted hot dark chocolate and spiced Brazil nuts. With water, aromas of loaf cake and mulled cider with mince pies and the taste still massive, “pull down your pants, as this one will kick your …” – don’t say we didn’t warn you!” Drinking tip: “Just before a rugby match whilst the opponent team perform the Haka”- $177.99
In addition to this month’s new releases you can browse all past releases on our Scotch Malt Whisky Society pages!