September always feels like a turning point in the year for me, and I probably I am not alone. Fall has not officially started yet, but summer vacation is over for many of us and the kids are back in school. This is the start of a busiest time of year here at Kensington Wine Market, as we ramp up for all of our fall tastings and festivals and prepare to sell and build our 2019 KWM Whisky Advent Calendar.
Society-wise, it means we return to seven new releases in the Outturn, instead of the six releases and one featured returning bottle as we run in June, July and August. Here is what we tasted our way through this month:
- This Outturn is on the relatively affordable side of things, with only one bottle costing more than $200. Two of the bottles are available for less than $150 and the rest are priced between $180-$190.
- The lineup as a whole has a fun chronology to it trading between fresh and style to more funky bottles for most of the tasting.
- On the fresh side of things, we start with a young but very well put together Linkwood. This is one of my personal favourites from distillery 39 in recent memory. Style-wise, it compares well to the equally great BenRiach we had in August, but with more spice and and green wood notes coming through, and a little less creaminess.
- In what could be a sign of a post-brexit apocalyptic future in which all Scotch Whisky comes from one single remaining distillery – we have two very different Loch Lomonds in this Outturn. One is older and unpeated (or perhaps shows the bearest hint of peat?) – the other is quite young and peated. Which is better? the 135 or the 122? That is for you to decide. I, for one, welcome Loch Lomond as are our new distillery overlords. May their multiple-society-number reign be righteous and true.
- The first Glenlivet we have seen in a while is spicy and rich with vibrant fruit notes. It reminds me of a few SMWS and indie Longmorn I have enjoyed over the past few years or so.
- The fourth bottle in the lineup comes from distillery 37 – which also gave us the most expensive SMWS bottle we have seen so far in Canada back in April of this year. This one is younger and does not break the bank. It is also shows some wonderful yet not over-the-top sherry notes and the barest hint of peat.
- Possibly the funkiest bottle of the night was the 46.70, which shows a heavy Madeira Cask influence. I thought it would be divisive because of this, but it turned out to be more of a crowd-pleaser at the tastings.
- Bottle number six comes from my personal favourite Islay distillery, SMWS number 10. It is on the unpeated side of things but big and oily and malt-forward with a bucket of salt on the palate. I honestly would have guessed this was from distillery 66 if I had tasted it blind without the cheat-sheet to read from.
- I already mentioned the young, peated Loch Lomond, which was the last of the night, but good grief did I enjoy this one. It packs a lot of flavour and fun into a young whisky package.
Curious about the seven new bottles? Read on below – but first I would like to thank the always wonderful Peasant Cheese for providing the small bites to go along with our monthly pilgrimage up cask strength whisky mountain. Also, don’t forget we have plenty of past releases you can browse anytime on our Scotch Malt Whisky Society Pages.
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And now, onto the Outturn tasting notes proper.
39.167 – A BIG TROPICAL ADVENTURE
This 8 year old Speysider is 56.5% after maturing in a 1st fill barrel.
Flavour profile: Young & spritely.
Outturn: 241 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “Layers of exotic fruit became entangled in a jungle of sweet fragrance as we chopped our way through the perfumed wilderness. Pink rose and jasmine exposed a path that led us to lychee and papaya dressed with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Ripe banana and pear progressed to pineapple and freshly peeled satsuma, before being coated by sweet pastry to form apple tarts.
The palate carried a chewy mouthfeel like strawberry sweets and Turkish Delight that dipped into hot and juicy realms. A green freshness transpired like apple skin mixed with cardamom pods and sweetened to ripe orange. Grapefruit and green wood encased the finish with the mouth-numbing feel of cloves.” $134.99
135.5 – INTRIGUING? CAPTIVATING? FASCINATING!
This 17 year old Highlander was matured in a 2nd fill barrel and comes in at 56%.
Flavour profile: Spicy & dry.
Outturn: 259 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A warm, sweet, earthy aroma of quality potting soil using peat, bark and recycled mushroom compost was soon joined by the scent of a brand new Mackintosh raincoat and sweet gooseberry pickle – intriguing? It certainly intrigued us! To taste, like spicy savoury basmati rice with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and curry powder as well as peas, sweetcorn and sliced almonds – captivating?
When we added water we were brewing a Chinese chrysanthemum flower-based infused tea and drinking cactus juice liqueur (tequila, triple sec and herbs) as well as kummel (liqueur flavoured with caraway seed, cumin and fennel) – fascinating!” $189
2.112 – A LILTING EXPERIENCE
This 11 year old Speysider was matured in a refill barrel and comes in at 60.2%.
Flavour profile: Sweet & spicy.
Outturn: 194 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “On the nose neat we were lilting with “the totally tropical taste” of pineapple, grapefruit, mango and peach next to demerara sugar and mangosteens. On the palate neat we remained in South East Asia with Phat Thai – stir fried rice noodles with shrimps in garlic red chili pepper, palm sugar and lime, commonly served as street food in Thailand.
Diluted we were served banana ice cream with a warm plum compote and a sprinkling of chia seeds whilst to taste like a mixed fruit and spice cake using glazed apricots and peaches alongside dates and raisins soaked in pineapple juice and cream sherry.” $182.99
37.117 – ROYAL FRUITCAKE
This 15 year old Speysider comes in at 55.6% and spent 13 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being transferred to a 1st fill Pedro Ximenez hogshead for the remainder of its maturation.
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla.
Outturn: 255 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A rich concoction of dried fruits lay before us as dates mixed with sultanas and prunes soaked in Armagnac. Floral tones floated above like a bowl of potpourri with a fresh edge that leaned towards spearmint. Sweet malty aromas brought a milky edge that carried earthy elements as we discovered rhubarb crumble with custard. The palate echoed the luxuriant temperament as dried apricots, figs and orange came wrapped in milk chocolate and with a sprinkling of black pepper and spice.
Flowering heather reintroduced a floral layer that delivered a woodland scene resplendent in fresh fern. The character remained soft and juicy until the end with flavours that lingered long after the final sip. After spending 13 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead this was transferred to a st fill Pedro Ximenez hogshead for the remainder of its maturation.” $185.99
46.70 – RUSTIC FARMHOUSE KITCHEN
This 17 year old Speysider spent 15 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being transferred to a 1st fill Madeira hogshead for the remainder of its maturation and comes in at 56.2%.
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits.
Outturn: 235 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A variety of sauces came to mind nosing neat: cranberry with port & star anise, fresh yogurt mint and even a gravy using the juices from roast meat. Rich, sweet and substantial like rosemary braised red cabbage with smoked herb sausages which were accompanied by root mash and wine braised shallots.
With water we collected apples in a vintage harvest sack made of canvas leather and then made them into an old fashioned apple and ginger chutney which we enjoyed with toasted brioche. After 15 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead we transferred this whisky into a 1st fill Madeira hogshead.” $216.99
10.161 – WISH YOU WERE HERE
This 10 year old from Islay comes in at 61.1% after maturing in a refill hogshead.
Flavour profile: Oily & coastal.
Outturn: 244 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “We felt transported to ‘singing sands’ on the west coast of Scotland and as we walked along the beach with the familiar sound to every step we made; the salty sea air gently blowing into our faces, we spot the occasional seal popping his head curiously out of the water – it was goodbye to cares.
A little lively on the tongue – imagine frolicking otters having plenty of fun. Diluted we spot an old abandoned boat amongst the kelp stems washed ashore and on the palate now very different – herbal, oily and salty but at the same time as sweet as those long summer days in Scotland.” $183.99
122.23 – HIGHLY A-MUSING
This 7 year old Highlander is 57.7% after maturing in a 2nd fill hogshead.
Flavour profile: Peated.
Outturn: 301 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “The first nose had the sweet smokiness of honey-cured bacon and curried smoked salmon cubes, followed by liquorice and the light medicinal smell of muscle rub. On the palate a ferocious attack of sweet perfumed smoke but, taking into account the age, all fairly well balanced and quite satisfying in a mysterious way.
With water, like a salt and oil body scrub enriched with Dead Sea minerals, sweet almond oil and a snuffed out perfumed candle. To taste, a very sweet start before charcoal grilled spiced pork herb sausages arrived and a lengthy slightly bitter finish.” $144