SMWS: April outturn [Easter bottlings]

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It was such a beautiful morning in London i decided to walk from Bank to Greville street.

I passed these two signs on a lamppost on the way there.

I assume down-loading is permitted ?

Arrived, let’s begin:



Glen Grant 1995 21yo SMWS 9.117 [264 bts] 55.3% WB0

SMWS breakfast
SMWS Breakfast
  • N: Oaked sugary plasticine with suggestions that the plasticine note will evolve into a leathery malty toffee, but it doesn’t quite manage to do so. Then again, its not exactly plasticine. It’s a combination [let’s say] of furniture wax, a touch of turpentine, varnish for sure, parsnips [the inspired SMWS tasting panel does it again], though for me there’s equally a note of roasted turnip, raw yellow carrots and lambs lettuce in the complex mix also. The nose is half classic GG with the other half far more curious and [pleasingly] irregular. With time however, the irregularities settle and the nose becomes more a classic, very rounded & majestic, general ’whisky’ nose.
  • T: A fully rounded dram coming in like a ball of sweet barley joy, smoothed over by time in bourbon oak and finished for a year in PX. The PX finish is skilfully subtle. Super roundedness from 21 excellent maturing years.  I occasionally picked up a little cumin seed on arrival.
  • F: ‘Posh wash’ with varnish, sweet liquorice and medicinal candy. Rather nice and neat finish with good medium length.
  • C: A rather dignified dram and a steal at £82. I believe this is one of 264 bottles, not 284 – according to the SMWS outturn issue 250.

Scores 86 points


A little snifter:

Linkwood 1989 27yo SMWS 39.140 [222 bts] 49.3% WB0

  • N: Smells like a Linkwood classic of old, namely a delicious, full-bodied, oily sweet malt.
  • T: Rises [and falls] as woody sweet barley,……
  • F: …. and then drops of pronto.
  • C: Good nose !

Scores 82 points


Bladnoch 1990 26yo SMWS 50.92 [90 bts] 53.1% WB0

  • N: Potent nose on thick mash, putty and beer, some floral notes, hessian sack, brown coconut flesh with husk, fruity toffee,…. and back to the mash for another round. I’ve been resisting SMWS’s suggested orange blossom note but everytime i come back to it, there’s definitely an orange note – similar to the orange in Balblair’s 1983 vintage though that’s more a chocolate orange. This Bladnoch carries an orange aromatic closer to wheatgerm oil with a drop or two of orange essentials.

Bladnoch 50.92.jpg

  • T: Curious, creeping arrival, sweet-medicinal, sweet putty-mash with a garage/garden [chemical/agricultural] note and plenty of peppery & cinnamon heat spice……. Meanders around,….. Adding water is a case of swings and roundabouts. There’s a hint of soapiness into the finish that develops.
  • F: Hot fresh in the centre & edges of the tongue. Finally concludes with a chocolate liqueur, mild-sweet oaked putty and a very slight soapy spirit finish – something i’ve encountered with Bladnoch more than once.
  • C: A good whisky distilled by United Distiller’s four years before the Raymond Armstrong ownership. In many ways very representative of the distillery given it’s alternative & characterful Lowland leanings.

Scores 85 points


Glen Scotia 2001 15yo SMWS 93.74 [276 bts] 55.4% WB0

Glen Scotia 93.74.jpg

  • N: Nicely oaked and creamy/milky/cream-cheese, sweet & sour with plenty of peat in the mix – a peatiness nearing Ardmore levels. There’s some acute saltiness too, a touch of vegemite, sweet tamari>plum sauce, roasted carrots, sweet potatoes,… Though rather quiet at first, more & more char is revealed over time.
  • T: Crisp and tidy arrival of fresh allium peat in the main. Adding water brings a favourable compliment of salty sweetness. Good balance and form throughout.
  • F: Allium-peat & bitter char towards the tail. Concludes clean & spirity with mild peaty smoke.
  • C: I like this a lot and yet i can’t get the new official 15yo bottling WB from the Loch Lomond group out of my mind – it’s the cask character that bowled me over with that one.

Scores 84 points


Bunnahabhain 2006 10yo SMWS 10.108 [198 bts] 49.3% WB89[1]

  • C: Smells and tastes like a wood/vanilla driven, young bourbon-ed Bunna. This was a modest people pleaser but one that didn’t get me going at all.

Scores 82 points


Bowmore 1997/2015 17yo SMWS 3.248 [594 bts] 57.7% WB89.33[8]

Lot’s of peeps are loving this, and with 594 bottles there may be just enough to go round – though it was bottled in 2015 and registered on WB in early 2016. I’d forgotten I’d tried it a few weeks prior to it’s ‘2017 release’ and thought it was good myself [Score: 86, blog]. Let’s see how it fairs today.

Bowmore 3.248.jpg

  • N: Water really opens this up. Light overall and salty with a little toast, vegetal icing sugar and plenty of vanilla.
  • T: Light and savoury/sweet vegetal, a little mint sauce – salted, roasted char and toasted caramel. Decent body.
  • F: A slight heat with all the previous notes from the palate still present.
  • C: A very likeable Bowmore with lots of varied pleasantries. It appears considerably more gentile/less huge today, all round – maybe it’s prone to the elements? At £68 for a 17yo single cask Bowmore, it’s a very decent buy.

Scores 85 points


Another snifter:

Cambus 1990 26yo SMWS G8.8 [222 bts] 56.7% WB0

  • N: Charming, middle-aged grain.
  • T: Neat! it’s perfect in its own right with good form. With water it’s rather prickly and a tad grumpy.
  • F: Beautiful clean vanillas especially on the finish.
  • C: Add water and it’s as if you’ve just received a freshly opened & poured, untempered & shouty, immature cask strength grain. Thankfully it’s perfectly decent grain neat, as if it’s been reduced already – weird. Thanks Phil for the chats and the tastes.

Scores 85 points


Balblair 2005 11yo SMWS 70.16 [198 bts] 56.5% WB0

Balblair 70.16.jpg

  • N: Icing sugar, fruity shampoo, active vanilla wood and spirity floral notes. It’s remarkably [perhaps], Balblair-like which is pleasing.
  • T: It’s not prickly but it is perky with a taut sweetness.
  • F: Moves to sweet grey mash – think buckwheat pancake mix. Desirable sweet-bitter edge.
  • C: I find this more preferable to the latest official bottlings [2000-2005 vintages] – given it’s rounder and less stark.

Scores 84 points


Laphroaig 1995 20yo SMWS 29.181 [204 bts] 57.6% WB88.33[5]

Laphroaig 29.181.jpg

  • N: Lime string-vegetal sweet with a lovely malty savoury sponge and dusty-chalky among many other things.
  • T: Vegetal bitter countered by sweet candy.
  • F: Toasted smoky vegetal – theres nothing unexpected here. Bitter=sour vegetal vanilla ice-cream – interesting.
  • C: It’s vibrant, varied and mature with a youthful outlook. Best of the day.

Scores 87 points


Mannochmore 2006/2016 9yo SMWS 64.89 [246 bts] 58.2% WB84[1]

The SMWS in Greville Street always seem to have 64-Mannochmore left-overs behind the bar. Some are better than others of course, though there was a decent run of them in 2016, scoring on average around 85-86. Let’s finish this session with one of, if not the last SMWS Mannochmore releases of 2016.


  • N: Lively, hot, young, mildly sweet, mildly meaty [pepper speckled ham] and vanilled spirit.
  • T: Edgy, young, winey [Pinot/Sauvignon], spirity and somewhat uncouth. There’s a dry mouthfeel that doesn’t seem like it comes from the cask. This isn’t paint stripper but there are finer basic single grains around.
  • F: Short finish on spirity chocolate.
  • C: Yikes, not very convincing. Water does nothing.

Scores 75 points


It’s ok to have some duffers when the calibre and consistency within a large range of monthly releases is high. Let’s do it all over again next month shall we.