I recently attended another Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) night, a highlight of my whisky calendar, and enjoyed it so much I thought I would do a wee write up of it and share it with you all. The Society nights include a tasting of five of the latest SMWS outrun, as well as a one course meal. The outrun that we were tasting from was the October outrun – the most recent outrun at the time of writing this – which is now available from the SMWS website.
As I have previously discussed on the blog the SMWS use coding’s for bottles instead of putting distillery names etc. on the bottle, this is fully explained here.
All of the drams that we tried on this night were cask strength, as always with the Society, most of which were over 60%ABV, so as you can imagine we were thankful for the meal in-between. Here is a list of all of the cracking drams we tried that night, as well as the notes that I got from them off the cuff, I would have liked to sit down with each of them and analyse them a bit more in-depth, but there were more drams to be had, and I couldn’t say no to them! At the Society’s tastings they give you the panels tasting notes, I always refrain from reading these until after I’ve had a go at the whisky as it stops your nose from being guided towards certain aromas etc. I always like comparing my notes to the panels after I have tried them also.
Dram number one for the night was from the Dailuaine distillery and it was a real treat!
|Cask No.||41.82 – Dailuaine|
|Bottle Name||Lively & Entertaining|
|Cask Type||1st Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrel|
|Alcoholic Strength||60.1% ABV.|
|Number of Bottles||192|
|Tasting Notes||Constantly changing aromas; candied ginger, lemon and honey sponge cake, sour apple sherbet as well as aniseed and ginger thrown in for good measure – this one just would not sit still! So we took a sip – what a surprise; spicy chocolate-dipped pineapple with sea salt as well as sour cherry and black pepper ice cream – we certainly did not get bored with this one. Water calmed it down – well, a little – slightly smoky white peppered strawberries with a balsamic vinaigrette on the nose and milk chocolate with zingy coconut lime and sea salt in the finish.|
Wow, this whisky has a fantastic nose. It is very sweet and very exciting. The big note that came forth for me was coconut ice-cream, I’ve never had a tasting note stand out so prominently for me before. With time, and trying to divert myself from the ice-cream, there was also crème brulee, rich milk chocolate, white pepper and golden syrup. And an odd note almost like sun tan lotion. With water more fruit came forth with green apples, lemon rind and rhubarb and custard sweets. A cracking start to the evening!
The second dram of the evening was a 13yo Aultmore matured in a Refill Hogshead. I’ve had Aultmores in the past; it is a very delicate and subtle whisky, and this was no exception to that rule.
|Cask No.||73.77 – Aultmore|
|Bottle Name||Back in a Briary Bower|
|Cask Type||Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogshead|
|Alcoholic Strength||60.6% ABV.|
|Number of Bottles||288|
|Tasting Notes||The nose starts with a fleeting lemon and lime freshness, before shifting to subtle floral notes, eventually settling to tempting honey and crème anglaise sweetness. The palate synthesises all those elements impressively and the sweetness has a lovely sharpness to balance it – dry pear, flower stems, candied orange and lemon slices and tinned mandarins – with a teasingly tannic, tongue-tingling finish (leather, wood and sugar-coated fennel-seed Mukhwas). The reduced nose has sylvan floral echoes of briary, dog-rose bowers, Florentines, sherbet lemons and chocolate-coated nuts. The palate now combines lemon and ginger tea with toffee and chocolate – as balanced as a Bach masterpiece.|
I’ve tried several Aultmores before and it is a delicate and subtle whisky. This single cask bottling has all of these same hallmarks. Initially there is a slight whiff of citrus zest, possibly lime, then after this it is dominated by loads of grassy/hay and herbal notes. With time notes of honey and damp saw dust come through as well as honey dew melon and bitter lemon rind. With time in the glass this dram became quite biscuity and almost meaty.
The colour on our third whisky of the evening was immense; I was a glorious deep amber colour. It turned out to be a Glen Moray matured for 10 years in a first fill Moscatel Hogshead.
|Cask No.||35.150 – Glen Moray|
|Bottle Name||Corn N’ Oil|
|Cask Type||1st Fill Moscatel Hogshead|
|Alcoholic Strength||60.8% ABV.|
|Number of Bottles||276|
|Tasting Notes||Looking at the colour we prepared ourselves for a surprise and what a surprise we got! Creosote treated wood fence, burnt molasses candy, spicy sweetened chestnut puree and Tortuga Caribbean rum cake. On the palate neat, it was a tannic, oaky, spicy and sweet attack on the taste buds but all in perfect balance. A drop of water and we found ourselves on a pirate ship with warning shots being fired at the enemy , ‘Surrender or die’ – they surrendered and we celebrated drinking Corn N ’Oil, very dark, oil-like blackstrap rum mixed with a sweet spicy syrup called Falernum.|
Well. This whisky is…different, it’s not like anything I have ever had before. The nose is simply fantastic. There is meaty, winey tannins upfront on the nose with a big toffee/burnt caramel note. Lots of woody ginger and dried cashew nuts. The palate was a bit of a let-down after the nose, it was incredibly mouth drawing and very drying and tasted pretty sulphury and metallic. With water it was hugely improved however with rich Manuka honey, more burnt caramel and red wine coming through.
The penultimate dram of the evening was a very old bottling of Linkwood, 26yo, from a Refill Hogshead. This was my first ever Linkwood and I really enjoyed it.
|Cask No.||39.135 – Linkwood|
|Bottle Name||Magical & Heavenly|
|Cask Type||Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogshead|
|Alcoholic Strength||58.8% ABV.|
|Number of Bottles||186|
|Tasting Notes||We loved the nose – calling it ‘special’ and ‘magical’ – exotic fruits (juicy pineapple, mango, melon, dried cherries) rubbed shoulders with brandy snaps and chocolate-drizzled Pavlova – plus cigar boxes and pipe racks. The neat palate had more attack – tongue-tingling leather, tobacco and spice – but dark chocolate, manuka honey and dried pineapple and papaya made it easy to forgive. The reduced nose continued the dream – tropical trail mix, mejool dates and bougainvillea by a holiday hotel pool. The palate, with just a touch of water, was totally rehabilitated – cherries in chocolate, mango, sugary coffee dregs, polished wood and spices – rather heavenly, actually.|
Wow, what a nose! Candy floss, dried papaya, pineapple backed up with a good amount of sweetness. I would never have guessed that it was a 26yo whisky, the cask has been used a good few times before this fill if its 26yo! It’s sweet, fruity, buttery and really well balanced. With time it begins to show it’s age with more leather, tannins and wood spice. This whisky is just very buttery an oily feeling, especially on the palate; buttery short bread, buttery popcorn, butter, butter, butter. It’s literally like silky and sweet melted butter.
The last dram, as always with any SMWS tasting, gets a bit peaty. Our peat monster for this evening was an 8yo Bunnahabhain, the details are below.
|Cask No.||10.98 – Bunnahabhain (Peated)|
|Bottle Name||Super Smoky Firestarter|
|Cask Type||2nd Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrel|
|Alcoholic Strength||60.4% ABV.|
|Number of Bottles||168|
|Tasting Notes||This is a young Firestarter of a dram! The initial nose was super smoky, sweet and salty. Delicate bourbon notes managed to shine through despite the intensity of the smoke. There was also a curious mix of smoked fish, white chocolate and ash. The taste was that of a coastal bonfire, those who gathered around enjoyed smoked monkey nuts and tuna nori rolls. Water lit a barbecue, fuelled by charcoal and hickory and very occasionally smattered with sea spray. On the palate the sweetness had really intensified and we found flavours of smoked apple, ham hock and heavy, thick, grey smoke.|
Initially on the nose there are strong notes of fishy, coastal, salty peat. On the palate it is really vegetal, bitter vegetation like daffodils and dandelions, mixed in with a heavy, thick smoke. It is a spirit driven whisky, it’s meaty, and malty and has a sulphury tang to it. There is a light crème anglaise on the nose from the cask but little but smoke and spirit character is getting through. It is a sweet, savoury and smoky delight.
Well. There we have it, a write up of another fantastic whisky fuelled night. I always find it interesting comparing my notes to those of the panel after a tasting, and seeing how close or far away I was. And seeing how outrageous some the panels notes are. A personal favourite note of this tasting was on bottle 35.150 ‘A drop of water and we found ourselves on a pirate ship with warning shots being fired at the enemy’ I know just what they mean…
The highlights for me were probably the first and third whiskies, 41.82 (the 11yo Dailuaine) and 35.150 (the 10yo Glen Moray). The Fourth whisky, 39.135 (Linkwood) – Magical & Heavenly, was just that, it was a great great whisky; I just couldn’t justify the price for it. In the end I treated myself to an early Christmas present getting a bottle of the Dailuaine and the Glen Moray which I will be reviewing in the future as they are such interesting whiskies.
Thank you to Jim Coleman – the SMWS ambassador hosting the evening- and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society for yet another excellent evening and I look forward to the next.