The gifts are unwrapped. The tree is tipped over.
The buzzy caffeine from that 50/50 mix of Irish cream and coffee you thought was going to get your through the day is starting to wear off.
The kids are occupied with that favourite new toy that Santa brought them. It will be lost, broken, or forgotten about by the end of the week but for now, the noise it makes is jarring and insidious. If it keeps up you may have to start actively plotting the toy’s early demise.
You find yourself blearily sitting in a cushy chair, intermittently nodding at a conversation happening between relatives of yours sitting on the other side of the room. As survival tactics go, this one will work perfectly until one of them asks you a direct question that cannot be answered with an enigmatic affirmative.
There was something else you were supposed to be doing right now. If you could only remember what.
Suddenly, you remember that the best gift of all still has one door left to open…
Christmas is all about tradition. Yesterday I mentioned the KWM single cask Kilchoman being a bit of aÂ KWM Whisky Advent Calendar tradition. Well, here is another that we started four years ago: The larger 100mL bottle for Day 25, from one of our favourite independent bottlers: the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is the worldâ€™s largest whisky club, and also an independent bottler. As a club, it has close to 30,000 members all over the world, and branches in close to 20 different countries. It is an independent bottler that has been six times accorded the honour of Independent Bottler of the Year by Whisky Magazine over the past nine years.
It bottles as broad a range of single cask, single malt Scotch whiskies as any other firm, and it doesnâ€™t stop there. It has also bottle Japanese whiskies, Bourbon, Grain whisky, Cognac, Armagnac, Rum, and Gin. Whether it is a whisky or another spirit, the Society always bottles the spirit from a single cask, straight from the cask, Unfiltered. Undiluted. Unrivalled.
It was a big year for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society – it turned 35 years old, having been officially founded back in 1983. The CanadaÂ Chapter of the SMWS also celebrated its own milestone, turning seven years old back in October of this year. Kensington Wine Market is proud to be the original home of the Society in Canada, and its exclusive retailer in Southern Alberta and all parts east of Calgary. Over the last seven years, we have introduced more than 550 bottles to more than a thousand Canadian members. Every month we launch at least 6, and usually 7 new green single cask bottles.
Membership to the SMWS is easy and gives you exclusive access to the widest selection of single cask single malt whiskies anywhere in the world. We also hold monthly Outturn tastings at the shop. Only Scotch Malt Whisky Society members can buy our exclusive single cask single malt whiskies, but anyone can try them. Weâ€™re confident once youâ€™ve had a taste you will want to join the club. For more information on the SMWS, you can visit our web page orÂ www.smws.ca.
Image courtesy ofÂ @frombarreltobottle
Now, let’s take a look at this bottle. If you are familiar with the SMWS or have been to one of our SMWS monthly Outturn tastings, you know how this works. Like Neo reading code from the Matrix, you don’t even see the numbers on the bottle – you translated the number to the distillery name subconsciously and are already nodding in agreement with the Society tasting notes on the label or shaking your head at them in amusement. If you are not a rabid SMWS member or a whisky
nerd enthusiast with borderline Aspergian tendencies, then you might be left scratching your head. Where is the distillery name on this bottle of single cask, cask strength single malt Scotch?
The SMWS never reveals which distillery a bottling comes from directly – instead, they codify things by giving each distillery a number. that would be the number 72. The .65 means that this is the 65th cask to be bottled from that specific distillery. If you do a quick Google search for ‘smws codes‘ you will find out the distillery name behind the number – which in this case is Miltonduff.
Andrew already covered a bit of Miltonduff Distillery’s background and history on this year’s KWM Whisky Advent Day 16 for a Cadenhead bottling. Go read that again if you like, for those of you that can’t manage to avoid the family for that much longer on baby Jesus’s Birthday, here is the Cliff Notes version:
Miltonduff was founded in 1824. It is owned by Chivas Bros / Pernod Ricard. It is one of the main malt components used in the second best-selling Blended Scotch Ballantine’s. We do not see any official bottlings from Miltonduff in Canada at the moment, but good indie bottles to pop up frequently.
As for this year’s KWM Whisky Advent SMWS bottle – let’s take a look at what the SMWS has to say:
Scotch Malt Whisky Society 72.65 – Winter Comforts
10 years old – 59.8% ABV – only available in 100mL mini bottles!
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla
Panel’s tasting note: “Aromas combined in an alluring cloud reminiscent of dried flowers and scented candles illuminating the dark corners of a dunnage warehouse. Sweet balsa wood and the subtle spice of sandalwood moved towards the vegetal tones of carrots and parsnips before turning distinctly herbal with the introduction of tarragon and thyme. The palate exploded with a sweet and spicy detonation that splintered off into cinnamon and ginger with dried chili flakes. Sweet desserts swirled as crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e joined mince pies lavishly coated with brandy cream. The viscous and creamy texture continued long onto the finish but became progressively drier as it was joined by lemon pith and fine wood tannins.”
The best part of the SMWS tasting notes is not that it gives you a guideline to what you should be nosing and tasting – don’t think of it like that. In my opinion, the SMWS notes are best taken as a jumping off point for your own thoughts and notes on what you are tasting. You are free to agree or disagree with what is written as you see fit, just as you are free to do the same with my own
delusional blather tasting notes.
As for what I got from this bottle? Here you go (for better or worse):
Kilchoman 100% Islay KWM Cask 10 Year
Evan’s Tasting Note
Nose: floral and yeasty with fresh wood shavings, ripe fruits, pina colada mix, vanilla, melted butter on toast, poached pears in syrup with nutmeg and dash of cracked pepper.
Palate: spicy, woody, and oily on the tongue. It gets slightly creamy too, but that is nearly overwhelmed by the heat. Cinnamon dusted on pineapple, jolly rancher candies, raw ginger, passion fruit juice with a tangy squeeze of lime.
Finish: It has some heat to it for certain, but the sweet tangy notes keep you coming back for more.
Comment: This is a big, sweet and spicy dram. A perfect pick me up to ward off the Christmas Day afternoon doldrums.
And with that, we sign off from our 2018 KWM Whisky Advent Calendar. We hope you enjoyed the journey along with us, and hopefully, we will be able to taste along with you once more in 2019. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, Glorious Festivus, and Happy Holidays from all of us at Kensington Wine Market!
Playing catch-up on our 2018 Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar?