Getting close to the end here.
Of 2019 I mean. December is here. The tree and the lights are up. The kids are working their way through their chocolate-filled Advent Calendars. The adults are working on their 2019 KWM Whisky Advent Calendars (and so am I). Both the young and the young-at-heart in the family are trying to avoid the temptation of binge-imbibing their way to an early Christmas. We must have patience, for the holidays will arrive soon enough.
Luckily we have a new batch of seven Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottles just released to help us bide our time. This round has some very interesting bottles, and also some very well-priced buys. Five of the bottles in this lineup weigh in at $160 bucks.ca or less. Only one bottle is priced at over $200.
So, lets break that perforated cut out and pull open the tiny door to take a peak at what is inside the December SMWS Canada Outturn:
- Continuing the spate of flavourful bottles in what is oft called the ‘death spot’ for whiskies in a tasting is A FRUITY FOOL. This is indeed a vibrant, fruit forward and lush whisky with some sip to it. Definitely a great one to start the tasting with, and very well priced for a 15 year old single cask as well.
- Joining in on the fruit forward trend is DONNING THE NIGHT CAP, which is a wonderfully expressive spice and red fruit driven eight year old from distillery number 9. It reminds me of a gorgeous G&M bottling that we had from the same distillery a few years back, but at cask strength.
- Number three in the lineup was softer, but oilier and more complex versus the first two. A REAL SHOWSTOPPER is a 13 year old that is fruity and malty with a delicate herbal note showing up in a delightful manner.
- Next up is our first SMWS bottle from Distillery number 1 in a long, long time. Possibly more than two years if my memory serves (though it rarely does)? KEPT IN THE DARK is a young, high-octane and not heavily-sherried single cask from the makers of the 105 Cask Strength. In fact, it would be fun to do a side by side compare and contrast between those two bottles side by side…
- Every bottle in this Outturn shows of as unique and different than the rest, but possibly none more so than BANANA FLAMBE. This Rum from Diamond Distillery in Guyana is a classically lush, dense, rich, molasses-driven British-style rum. It also comes at a relatively approachable cask strength – at least when compared to a few previous SMWS Rum offerings that have been well north of 60% ABV.
- From there we went onto the oldest bottling from SMWS distillery number 66 that we have seen in a while with DEEP, RICH AND BURNT FRUIT. This is one of those crazy 66′s that somehow manages to be full of rich barley but also tight and minerality driven – a hard combination to pull off.
- Lastly, we returned to the distillery that gave us the first bottle of the lineup, but this time in peated form. It’s PEAT JIM, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT is a Star Trek reference. It is a parody of the famous line “It’s life Jim, but not as we know it” – but wait a minute – that specific line was never uttered in any Star Trek Episode. The line actually comes from the song Star Trekkin’ that was released by a UK band called The Firm back in 1987. Scroll to the 45 second mark for the lyric. That makes this SMWS bottle name a parody of a parody, which I am personally all for. The more geek references the better! I am vamping here, more filling the void with hot air and showing off than adding anything useful about the bottle, but I don’t really need to say anything about it either. This 7 year old Croftengea is that good.
And there you have it! That is my rundown personal rundown for this December’s SMWS Canada Outturn.
For those of you nerds that did not already know that bit of trivial for bottle number seven, you can now hand over your geek credentials. Your nerd cards are now all belong to me. I own you.
You can keep your SMWS membership card though, that thing is important.
Tired of my preamble and looking specifics? Read on below! If you are looking for other bottles from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society you can check out what we have in stock here. If any SMWS bottles show as being out of stock on our website please contact us – we might be able to get more.
As always we would like to give a big thank-you to our awesome neighbour’s Peasant Cheese for supplying the small bites for the tastings.
Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
112.28 – A FRUITY FOOL
This 15 year old Highlander was matured in a 1st fill hogshead and comes in at 52.4%.
Flavour profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow.
Outturn: 263 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A warm invitingly sweet aroma of banana bread cake with butterscotch icing was followed by vanilla scones with strawberry cream as well as blackcurrant jam and red fruit coulis. On the palate neat, gooseberry yoghurt fool and mint chocolate chip cookies as well as orange and Earl Grey iced tea with mint syrup.
With water initially a whiff of linseed oil and new glossy magazines soon superseded by German cinnamon star cookies (Zimtsterne) and banana pancakes with hazelnut mascarpone cream. To taste, sweet and creamy like Portuguese custard tarts (Pastel de nata) or crème caramel with Marsala-baked pears.” $159.99
9.145 – DONNING THE NIGHT CAP
This 8 year old Speysider comes in at 60.2% after maturing in a 1st fill barrel.
Flavour profile: Sweet & spicy.
Outturn: 228 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “After fluffing pillows and unfolding blankets the aromas invited us to relax amongst honey-scented candles and spicy incense. Sweet smells came from the confectionery box with rice paper, wine gums and fruit pastilles whilst floral notes soothed the mood with parma violets and Turkish Delight.
Feeling calmed by ginger and cloves we rested our feet in cinnamon slippers and sipped on hot malted milk drink. The ambrosial smell of menthol on balsa wood drifted past as we tucked into sticky apricot jam on brown toast followed by cookies still warm from the oven and a small measure of bourbon whiskey.” $140
35.241 - A REAL SHOWSTOPPER
From a refill hogshead, this 13 year old Speysider is 55.6%.
Flavour profile: Sweet & spicy.
Outturn: 237 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “We noted at first a very pale fino sherry type colour on pouring but the sweet fruity scent of apples, pears and apricots permeating the air focused our attention on the aroma. A rich fruit parfait as well as a foamy syllabub dessert combining lemon and fragrant rosemary made this a real showstopper.
We tasted it – warm, mouth-coating and syrupy on the palate neat with hints of tobacco, chili and pepper. A drop of water and an invigorating spicy and fresh aroma of lemongrass, eucalyptus and cinnamon appeared while on the palate lemon-poppyseed Linzer cookies and a mango, pineapple and kiwi salad.” $159
1.120 - KEPT IN THE DARK
This 7 year old Speysider comes in at 64.4% after maturing in a refill hogshead.
Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla.
Outturn: 230 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “In the corner of a dark and damp dunnage warehouse a single beam of light danced over the cracked putty of a broken window and illuminated a pile of charred wood and wine corks. The air merged aromas of dried orange skin and grapefruit oil with the heavy spices of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Red fruits waited in the shadows alongside walnuts and Brazil nuts while hot cross buns joined sweet crumbly biscuits.
Water washed away thick layers of dust to uncover old leather and tobacco while a blanket of incense smoke brought turmeric and green tea. Damp leaves were scattered on the floor, however through the darkness came dried mango, apple tarts and melon sweets with butterscotch and cocoa nibs that lasted into a finish bound by cream soda.” $140.99
R2.6 - BANANA FLAMBE
This 14 year old rum from Guyana was matured in a refill barrel and comes in at 51.3%.
Outturn: 204 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “On the nose neat we got served a vanilla bean cream Frappuccino with a dash of peach syrup as well as a warm raspberry compote banana bread muffin. Lots of banana flavours to taste; baked banana chips, banana flambé split with rum-pineapple caramel and spiced banana fritters.
With some water initially a whiff of petrol/engine oil with a touch of wood glue and varnish which quickly faded into the background allowing a Crème Brûlée flambé to take centre stage. On the palate now candyfloss, strawberry liqueur trifle as well as coconut tapioca with pineapple, mango and lime – truly heaven for the sweet-toothed!” $195
66.138 - DEEP, RICH AND BURNT FRUIT
This 20 year old Highlander was matured in a refill hogshead and comes in at 52.4%.
Flavour profile: Lightly peated.
Outturn: 265 bottles.
Flavour profile: “The nose carried the rich opulence of truffle oil with old leather and the subtle spice of sandalwood. Sweet notes oozed like treacle on charcoal and toffee apples delivered fruit that morphed into oranges on a bonfire and tropical fruit in syrup. Delicate wild flowers appeared through a smog of applewood smoke to merge with mixed herbs and salted butter.
Burnt toffee introduced a palate that delved into sticky barbecued ribs and roast pork glazed with marmalade. A hint of heather and violets reconsidered floral qualities however the finish arrived with roasted chestnuts dipped in salt and toasted marshmallows on the end of charred sticks.” $267
122.26 – IT’S PEAT JIM, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT…
This 7 year old Highlander was matured in a 2nd fill hogshead and comes in at 58.6%.
Flavour profile: Lightly peated.
Outturn: 302 bottles.
Panel’s tasting note: “A remarkable concoction of peated jelly babies, medical tinctures, silage, burnt kelp, sandalwood, fishing nets, wet beach pebbles, charred wood, chalk and lively minerality. Wonderfully funky! Develops further notes of dried twigs, farmyard, marzipan and crystallized fruits.
Water unearths pineapple jelly, ointment, wood smoked porridge oats, burnt toast, peppermint candies, toffee apples and then notes of spring greens fried in butter and BBQ char. The mouth is slathered in greasy peats, TCP, tar resin, gentian eau de vie and peat oils. The mineral aspect remains gravelly while water adds leather rags, boiler smoke, paraffin wax, toasted fennel seed and Selkirk bannock. A uniquely characterful dram!” $142