On a recent visit to Edinburgh, my friend and I found ourselves at a loss with about 2 hours to kill, so, being whisky lovers, we decided to pay a little visit to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Queen Street venue to pass some time. Any excuse right? While there we had 4 drams from some of the society’s recent releases which I decided to do reviews of, this review is of the first of those delightful drops.
Dram number one was 39.151, which, if you know your SMWS codes (you can find out more about them here) means that this one came from the Linkwood distillery, in Speyside. The details for the bottling are below:
|Cask No.||39.151 – Linkwood|
|Bottle Name||A Blue Lady and a Seraph’s Smile|
|Cask Type||1st Fill Butt/ex PX|
|Alcoholic Strength||58.4% ABV.|
|Number of Bottles||592|
|Tasting Notes||Blue lady tea and After Eights, plus fruits and flowers. The palate is as sweet as a Seraph’s smile. Previously in an ex-Oloroso butt.|
Firstly, let’s discuss the cask maturation of this one. It’s not 100% clear from the cask information provided on the label. This Linkwood was distilled on the 27th of October 1997. It was then matured in a refill Oloroso sherry butt for a number of years, before being finished in a 1st fill Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry butt. The finishing period isn’t stated and the bartender at Queen Street wasn’t sure but as it is a fairly recent practice for the society I can’t imagine it would be hugely long. Either way, I think we are in for a sherry monster here so let’s get started!
Very earthy to start with but packed with dried fruits, raisins, sultanas, mixed peel. It’s incredibly rich and almost like a ruby port on the nose, with a slight soapyness to it. The soapy note is very odd but at the same time really nice, it’s floral and grassy with lots of ‘green’ aromas and lemon rind. As the soapiness subsides a punch of dark and sweet flavours come through, with sticky toffee pudding (baked dates, brown sugar, caramel sauce, rich spiced sponge etc.) melted dark chocolate and freshly roast coffee beans. This is followed by a big whack of spice at the back of the nose with cloves, cardamom and bay leaf.
Soft and gentle arrival with a wave of stewed dried fruits, sticky dates and figs. There is warming spice with cloves and again cardamom and again there is a lot of sweetness with this dram. Its thick and rich with flavours of black treacle and muscovado sugar. The alcohol brings a fizzy feel to the palate through the development as the spice powers through once more with hot pepper and anise. Despite the fizzy alcohol prickle and high ABV it does feel fairly subdued, compared to the nose, but water opens it up hugely. It takes away some of the sharper spice notes and brings blackberry jam, stewed plums and some milk chocolate. The palate is very tasty, though it doesn’t quite live up to the nose.
The finish is quite intense in flavour with big fat juicy Maryland raisins, mixed peel and stewed fruits. The finish feel a bit generic sherry cask if I’m honest but it is impressively rich, likely the result of the PX finish. The finish is short though, it dies off quite fast but the intensity of it makes up for it to me.
For the first dram of the afternoon we were certainly off to a flyer. A very intense and rich sherry monster, it would be a hard act to follow so possibly not the best dram to start with but when we saw the label of the bottle we just had to get a try of it. If you get the chance I would recommend trying this one, I would definitely have got myself a bottle at the time had the finish been slightly longer – and if I didn’t already have an obscene number of bottles at home, I’m running out of hiding places!