November is the busiest months of the year when it comes to whisky tastings here at Kensington Wine Market. With nearly a tasting every day (and sometimes two in one day!) of the week for the first two weeks we are running non-stop to set up tastings hosted by ourselves, by Brand Ambassadors, and to tear apart the store for an upcoming sold out whisky festival. Just to add more fun to the mix we also through in a wine and/or beer tasting or three just to add to the fun!
The month started with two Scotch Malt Whisky Society Outturn tastings on Wednesday, November 1st and then there was a third SMWS tasting on Saturday the 4th. It was my privilege to host the two Wednesday tastings and Marty pitched in to run the Saturday event.
How does the Outturn look? As always it is an interesting and varied lineup featuring a 26-year-old Grain, two Islay Malts (one unpeated!), and a beautifully peated Highland Malt among others. Post-Brexit pricing still seems to be in effect as only one of the bottles in our lineup tipped surpassed $200 – and it did so just barely. Flavour and Value are the watchwords here, and Quality has not slipped one bit.
A big shout out to our neighbour’s at Peasant Cheese for providing the small bites to compliment the whisky as always.
Curious about other available SMWS bottles? You can check out what is currently available at our store here. Feel free to fire Marty or myself an email if you have questions on any of them – or pop into our store for more information on and perhaps even taste of the curious and ever delightful green bottles.
Dive into the Society notes down below!
G8.8 – BOTANIC GARDENS AND A SAWMILL
This 26 year old single grain whisky from a closed distillery comes in at 56.7% after maturing in a refill hogshead
Flavour profile: Light & delicate
Outturn: 222 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The initial nose has subtle fruits and flowers – patience coaxes out soft toffee, chocolate-coated bananas and mandarins in syrup; all on clean new oak. The palate has an attractive delicacy – caramel wafers, ice-cream, honey and cherry chocolates, balanced by spiced bourbon, nuttiness and hints of grapefruit. On the reduced nose, sweet treats of orange and lemon candied slices, candy corn, and shaved coconut on chocolate custard are laid out on a table somewhere between the botanic gardens and a sawmill. The reduced palate has vanilla, custard creams, chocolate limes and marrons glacés, with some bourbon-like char and spice in the finish.”
Drinking tip: “When you have the luxury of time”
48.87 – FRISKY WHISKY
This 11 year old Speysider from a 1st fill barrel comes in at 58.4%
Flavour profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow
Outturn: 204 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The welcoming nose had something floral and woody, like a fuchsia hedge – also coconut, mango and pineapple; French fancies, honey and chocolate. The neat palate was lively – those fruits again, some citric sharpness, dark chocolate with ginger and a few other woody spices (nutmeg, anise); mouth-filling, mouth-watering and tongue-numbing all at the same time. The reduced nose was an explosion of fruit and honey sweetness – tutti-frutti, soft stone fruits, crème caramel, barley sugars and rice pudding with cinnamon. The reduced palate combined sensual chocolate caramel wafer and bourbon biscuit sweetness with playfully frisky fruitiness and warm ginger cake and chili spice.”
Drinking tip: “When feeling frisky!”
10.106 – SALTED LEMON SHERBET
This 10 year old from Islay comes in at 60.1% after maturing in a refill barrel
Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet
Outturn: 198 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The whisky, at first, released a life affirming vibrancy reminiscent of waxy citrus fruits, candied peel and lemon sherbet that fused with mineralic and salty overtones. Then sweeter notes of Jaffa Cakes, salted caramel, white chocolate and lemon drizzle cake entered the game alongside the rich and malty feel of digestive biscuits. Water released more juicy fruits and gentle spice like cinnamon swirls, plum pickle on oatcakes and sweet plums with the return of citrus fruits this time in the form of lemon curd. The finish left behind light honey with wood shavings and the tannins of strong black tea.”
Drinking tip: “For high tea by the sea”
37.87 – PUFF PASTRY PLUM TARTS
This 13 year old Speysider, at 58.8%, was finished in a 1st fill charred ex-red wine hogshead after maturing in an ex-bourbon hogshead
Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet
Outturn: 228 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “We entered a stately home and walked through the hall of marble white granite limestone, passing the armour’s gallery, downstairs to the kitchen with an open hearth. We were offered baked brie with apricot preserves and almonds as well as warm bread with sunflower seeds. After a drop of water the sweet smell of puff pastry plum tarts and apple strudel made us even hungrier and we enjoyed a sticky toffee loaf cake with fudge icing. After 12 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead, we transferred this whisky directly into a 1st fill charred ex-red wine hogshead for the remainder of its maturation.”
Drinking tip: “Getting warm and cozy by an open fire”
71.43 – SWEET AND SPICY WITH A SAVOURY KICK
This 9 year old Speysider was matured in a refill butt and comes in at 65%
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits
Outturn: 618 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The aromas are heady and inviting – dates, gingerbread pastry, rich toffee and a whiff of balsamic. We imagined a glazed ham, all spice, black pepper and pickled vegetables on the side. The taste at full strength was big and sweet. Cinder toffee with “builder’s tea” (strong, with milk and sugar) and a touch of burnt sugar from the bottom of a saucepan. With water, there was mulled wine with oranges and spices and a freshly baked apple and plum crumble with caramelized sugar and cinnamon. The taste left us wanting more – sweet and spicy with a little savoury kick, mince pies, cereals and crème brûlée.”
Drinking tip: “A pleasingly big sherried dram for its age”
3.291 – TICKLE YOUR FANCY
This 20 year old from Islay comes in at 56.5% after maturing in a refill hogshead
Flavour profile: Oily & coastal
Outturn: 263 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “‘That tickles my fancy’ was the first comment. Warm, sensuous and the delicate spiciness of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg with juicy segments of blood oranges, hints of tobacco and honey cured salmon gravlax. On the palate big and creamy with plenty of oak and spice; caramelized wood flavours balanced by salty chocolate and chili meringues and doughnuts with burnt caramel and sea salt – this is huge! Let’s try and tame it; now deep earthy aromas found in a Pu-erh-tea combined with Dundee marmalade and walnuts. Still big but with a juicier mouth-feel, rum soaked raisins and pineapple cubes and a never-ending gingery finish.”
Drinking tip: “For those “Joie de vivre!” moments”
66.95 – SWEET REEK
This 11 year old Highlander was matured in a refill hogshead and comes in at 61%
Flavour profile: Peated
Outturn: 264 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “Reassuringly sweet with pink wafer biscuits and Turkish delight dusted with icing sugar and wrapped with a soft cloud of gentle smoke. More floral notes developed with violets, red roses and apple blossom that fused quite magnificently with malt extract and sticky cough mixture. The syrupy texture extended to the taste with a mouth-coating character now delivering liquorice sweets, overcooked blackcurrant jam and considerably spiced haggis that had been grilled until the edges had become crispy. The finish was substantial and irrepressible leaving a warm and sweet smoke reminiscent of pork crackling on the barbecue.”
Drinking tip: “Drink when you do not wish to taste anything else for the next few hours”