Sadly there’s little SMWS whisky activity down in Brighton, but a few times a year the seaside city of the Seagulls gets a sneak preview of the society’s upcoming releases. Eleven days ago [17/11/17], we got to try five drams ahead of the [typically huge] December outturn. Hosted by SMWS Ambassador David Smith, here’s the five we tried.
Clynelish 2004/2017 13yo SMWS 26.120 ‘Oil be dammed’ [198 bts] 52.1% WB0
- N: This needed plenty of water and plenty more time [60 mins+], as it’s thoroughly resinous, robust and locked in at first sight. Lighter fruits come through initially with a peppery mineral edge and a suggestion of Monster Munch – you know which flavour, the best. Later we’ve vanilla dunnage, grass/hay and light & sweet lemon – somewhat Littlemill-y. Really though, not a great deal here.
- T: Forget it neat. Diluted, we’ve a winey oily Speysider moving towards a grain-vanilla linseed direction. Woody vanillin all the way through. Later, more creamy dunnage and another salute to Littlemill.
- F: Resinous linseed/putty and the inevitable vanilla. Finishes warmly on chocolate caramel with some plasticine, salad leaf & popadom notes at the death.
- C: Overall, sweet, light & good/simple. Whilst not very Clynelish-y there are so so many examples of this type of whisky from the SMWS.
Scores 84 points
Aberfeldy 2008/2017 9yo SMWS 60.27 ‘A truly unforgettable experience’ [611 bts] 61.9% WB0
Aberfeldy: ’The home of Dewar’s’ so the welcome signs at the distillery announce. Glenturret do a similar thing with a huge copper Grouse [PIC??] at the entrance to symbolise their links with Famous Grouse. David Smith [SMWS ambassador], tells us Tommy Dewar was the third man to own a car in the UK. I read somewhere that the first car went to the King.
- N: A hint of smoke and more than a hint of rubbery [sulphury] sherry. Further details include rubbery raisins, spud gun metal, paprika [SMWS spot on], and husky dried coconut.
- T: A big blatant sherry punch. Water brings a woody sugary/caramel sweetness and a marginally improved form but there’s little finesse here.
- F: Woody dry and fruit sweet with a chocolate conclusion.
- C: This is similarly as delicious as the society’s ‘Temptation to the Dark Side’ [28.33 WB], but forget subtlety, forget balance and forget distillery character. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, blatant no brainer campfire whisky – once well watered down. That’s assuming you like a sherry bomb from time to time.
Scores 83 points
Glen Moray 2001/2017 16yo SMWS 35.194 ‘A composition in wood’ [158 bts] 59.8% WB0
I always think SMWS code 35. signifies Linkwood, which happens to be situated on the other side of Elgin town.
- N: Woody, earthy and characterful with notes on dark toffee and hints of coffee liqueur. Those 16 years begin to speak given time, the spirit clawing for some airplay away from the dominant cask.
- T: Much like the previous Aberfeldy, it’s all cask. Blatant oloroso once again trashes the spirit and any distillery character attempts [if there were to be any]. The rubbery sherry is ultimately sulphury, softened only a touch by those 16 years of maturation.
- F: Glenrothes-esque sherry finish moving down the caramel & chocolate biscuit route. A little sweet putty and caramel to conclude.
- C: 16 years brings some delight against the backdrop of that overbearing wood influence.
Scores 83 points
Glenlossie 1992/2017 24yo SMWS 46.55 ‘Raindrops on a lavender bush’ [281 bts] 52.7% WB0
52.7% abv for a 24yo gives an estimated annual angel’s share of only 0.63% [Glenlossie’s new make strength is 67-67% SW]. Remember that the so-called angel’s share is necessary and desirable if maturation magic is to occur.
- N: Leather, dunnage, candy-sweet>vegetal tannin=lactose. Later more coppery sweet with savoury>sweet lemon>ade cordial.
- T: Hurray for refills and age. We’ve barley nectar liquid gold right here, a style of whisky that only age and certain casks can provide. Very firm and robust juice following along runny honeyed hay lines.
- F: Sweet clay/white plasticine/grey buckwheat dough, savoury sweet straw and dry lemon. Reminiscent of many an SMWS Strathmill.
- C: Certainly the best of the night so far, though the Clynelish [which became like this Lossie’s younger brother by the end of the night], wasn’t far behind. Can the Laphroaig up last top the charts?
Scores 86 points
Laphroaig 1998/2017 18yo SMWS 29.225 ’Slapped by a kipper’ [240 bts] 57.4% WB0
- N: Sweet & lightly toasted oily vegetal, sesame oil [without the twang], sweet-savoury medical bandages, box hedge leaves, pickled onions, spinach, holy basil [tulsi] and light pickled sour lemon. Surprisingly light [oily] smoke levels though you always know it’s there. Plenty of in & out funkiness throughout.
- T: Barley-sweet-smoke with a massive soft green side.
- F: Mild crushed aspirin, smokey squid ink [SMWS], and liquid smoke. Muddy vegetal smoke at the death with oaky smoked vanilla.
- C: Very good yet unmoving.
Scores 85 points
With thanks to David