SMWS Canada December 2018 Outturn

It probably goes without saying that things move at a frenetic pace this time of year at Kensington Wine Market. As a retail store, we have plenty of people coming in our doors to complete some festive holiday shopping. Beyond that, you can look at this blog and see a new post each day through Christmas Proper going up for our very own, made in-house 2018 Whisky Advent Calendar. If that isn’t enough, add in the general KWM Chaos(TM) and the periodic social media-related directives whims of our Fearless Leader. The planet itself even possibly conspires against us, seemingly spinning faster near the end of the year – never leaving enough minutes in the day to get everything done.

Even with all of this going on, we still find time for the monthly Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada Outturn tastings – and for good reason. With all of the encroaching cacophony at least one of us needs to taste their way through seven new cask strength, single barrel offerings.

Call it my own way of searching for zen in these times of more severe entropy; aspiring to find it in green bottle form. If other people attend and manage to put up with my eccentric ramblings and taste along then all the better. My ego also demands satisfaction!

All that said (or perhaps better left unsaid), if you are reading this you probably aren’t here for me – you want the details on those wonderful bottles in the lineup. Here is what were are looking at for December 2018:

  • Speyside, of course, is represented. However, it only makes an appearance in three of the seven bottles, which is somewhat low considering how many distilleries reside in the region. All three of the Speysiders are owned by one company. Unsurprisingly I feel each of them are far better than anything official put out by that company. Hello Corby/Pernod-Ricard!
  • One of these Speysiders is rarely seen in any form beyond blends: Distillery number 108. This is, in fact, the first time an SMWS 108 has made its way to Canada.
  • The Highland Island region is represented on two bottles, including a premium SMWS bottle from Distillery 31 – that bottle is one of the oiliest whiskies I can recall ever tasting. It is quite a treat!
  • It is the first time in a long time (years even!) we have seen SMWS Canada bottles from numbers 72, 31, and 26. The 26 is a delicious treat showing typical waxy fruit notes but also including an abnormal amount of saltiness…
  • The Islay bottle is amazing and likely won’t make it to the shelves before selling out. It may only be nine years old, but this 10 is amazing, drinking well beyond its age in my opinion. I do have a love for that distillery though…

When the dust settled, we were looking back at a fun Outturn that allowed us to catch up with many old friends not seen in a while also taking comfort in the presence of a few regulars. I am talking about distillery numbers as well as the wonderful people in attendance who managed to tolerate my aimless discourse. It was a great group to hang out with – we laughed, we cried, and we all enjoyed good food supplied by our next door neighbour’s Peasant Cheese.

Eventually, we had to wrap up our visit and made plans to meet again in the new year… All in all, it was just as a good holiday get together should be – without that one crazy uncle and that in-law that you cannot manage to get along with.

As at least one wise person probably once said: you can pick your bottles, but you can’t pick your family.

Happy Holidays!

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This 25 year old Speysider is 54.8% after maturing in a refill hogshead
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla
Outturn: 222 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The nose is just typical – a leather handbag containing sherbet straws, floral and sandalwood perfumes and a cigarette packet – found in a French Polisher’s workshop. Lots of delicious stuff on the palate – choux pastry, plum jam, rhubarb and custard, vanilla sponge and rum-soaked fruits; crystallized ginger, tobacco leaf and chili jam to finish. The reduced nose suggests a sassy lassie in a leather skirt entering an aromatherapy parlour – cigarette in one hand and a honey-guzzling Winnie the Pooh in the other. The palate becomes sweeter but with an acidic edge – orange and ginger marmalade, Moffat toffees*, marshmallows, clean oak and blackcurrant. (* acidic toffees from a southern Scottish town)” $294.99

The first-ever release of distillery 108 for the Canadian branch, this 10 year old rarely-seen Speysider was matured in a 1st fill barrel and comes in at 62.7%
Flavour profile: Sweet & spicy
Outturn: 222 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The panel were intrigued to try this lesser seen distillery. On the nose we found vanilla cream, soil, wood spices, flaked almonds and dried apricots. With water this developed into pumpkin flesh, sesame oil, rosewater, perfumed custard, vanilla marshmallows and rhubarb sours. The palate was syrupy in texture with an unexpected richness. It showed notes of cough mixtures, caraway, pine resin, sweetened ointments, spices, chili pepper, roasted nuts, melon and juicy fruit bubblegum. Water worked a treat and brought forth notes of violets, gomme syrup, damson jam, plum sauce, five spice and crispy duck.” $150

26.121 – A REAL PICK-ME-UP
From the Northern Highlands, this 13 year old is 53.3% after maturing in a 1st fill barrel
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla
Outturn: 214 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “A potpourri of dried petals and leaves from a variety of flowers infused with tangerine oil combined with a new Barbour jacket, a hint of stem ginger spice and a spritz of sea salt spray made this an invigorating zesty, oily, waxy fragrant experience. Mouth-filling sweet poached pears in honey, ginger and cinnamon syrup before a gentle spiced apple cake with a salty sweet lemon drizzle topping took over in the long finish. Diluted, like a snuffed out vanilla-scented candle next to a plate of gravlax (cured salmon served in a honey mustard sauce) and on the palate salted caramel sauce and a tangy vanilla lime smoothie.” $194.99

This 9 year old Speysider is 60.6% and was matured in a refill barrel
Flavour profile: Young & spritely
Outturn: 210 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “A sweet citric aroma of freshly squeezed lemon sprinkled on pancakes covered in sugar and cinnamon was followed by rhubarb and ginger syllabub and the fresh scent of slices of juicy pear. The taste neat had plenty of chili heat at the beginning but then offered a balance of zesty orange marzipan and juicy fruit-flavoured wine gums. With the addition of water, Limoncello-mint sorbet and fresh blackberries on the nose whilst the palate certainly benefitted from the dilution with a sweet creamy, now slightly spicy, mouthfeel of coconut rice pudding with cardamom spiced honey pears.” $130

This 52.5% Highland Islander spent 27 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being transferred to a 2nd fill toasted hogshead for the remainder of its maturation
Flavour profile: Oily & coastal
Outturn: 240 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “A fresh tartness greeted us with the invigorating waft of damp pine forest and lime juice with balsamic vinegar over red onions. Lime juice moved towards frozen margaritas ahead of red apples that ventured into more musty terrain with noble rot dessert wine and leather. Water released pear drops and toasted pine nuts with stuffed vine leaves. Greasy notes appeared with a mouth-coating viscosity like old engine oil mixed with orange zest. Black cherry pie and apple turnovers made way for a balanced finish of dry oak with mint yogurt and Moroccan spices. After spending 27 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead this was transferred to a 2nd fill toasted hogshead for the remainder of its maturation.” $371.99

From the Highland Islands, this 14 year old comes in at 54.3% after maturing in a refill hogshead
Flavour profile: Oily & coastal
Outturn: 259 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “The initial nose instilled an atmosphere of serenity as we gently bobbed along the coastline in our oak canoe, which had been freshly waterproofed with tar. The sun was beating down and we could smell the flowering gorse bushes high on the chalk cliffs beside us. Tucking into our smoked Bavarian cheese sandwiches with plenty of spiced fruit chutney we enjoyed the sounds and smells of the sea, with clean salty air and nearby rock pools. No sooner had we taken a sip a storm arrived and the waves became mammoth breakers as we found ourselves being rocked side to side. Chunks of driftwood banged against the sides of the boat and with a mighty crash lightning struck, charring the apple crumble and scattering ash around us as plumes of thick wood smoke swirled in the wind.” $194.99

This 9 year old from Islay was matured in a refill hogshead and is 60.1%
Flavour profile: Peated
Outturn: 264 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “Time had slowed to an undemanding meander as we relaxed outside the seaside cafe with the autumn sun gently warming our souls. The clean and salty air carried with it the evocative aromas of ship’s rope and fishing nets as small boats passed before us. From the kitchen came the tummy rumbling smells of smoked prawns, roasted parsnips and grilled portobello mushrooms drizzled with walnut oil and a sprinkling of rosemary and thyme. Finally our lunch arrived… a platter of scallops and barnacles cooked in caramelized butter and fresh oysters served with a generous glass of chilled manzanilla sherry.” $158 SOLD OUT!

That is the December 2018 Outturn. You can more information on these as well as other SMWS bottles on our website here. See you in January!

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