Now a few of you noticed that I had been a bit down in the dumps after my last SMWS outturn visit in December [blog], but I did clarify my thought & feelings/grumblings were mood-dependent. I also stand by those sentiments.
2018 sees me in a far more revitalised and positive mood for new single malt releases, helped in part by a lovely SMWS 1,2,3 in February [blog], which included a cracking Allt-a-Bhainne of all things. Thankfully I was in town to catch some of the March outturn, much of which hadn’t made it through the snow. Here’s five that did, with a [not mine] birthday bonus dram. Overall quality was high.
Cameronbridge 1982 35yo SMWS G4.16 ‘Mellifluous contentment’ [216 bts] 49.8% WB0
Finished in a 2nd refill ex-sauternes barrique.
- N: Rich yet fresh, sweet creamy vanilla barley.
- T: The ex-sauternes cask works a treat here, sweetening and complimenting the still youthful, waxy sweet-fresh grain. With some varnish and wood spices it develops towards bitter-sweet caramel – vanilla ever present.
- F: Sustained finish with a move towards sour cream.
- C: ‘Rich yet fresh’ it is. Good Sauternes usage. Robust grain.
Scores 83 points
Braeval 1994/2006 12yo SMWS 113.12 ‘Refreshingly minty’ [196 bts] 58.9% WB0
For a corkage fee you can now bring your own bottles into the SMWS – fair play. To celebrate his birthday, a kind gentleman bought along this Braeval – a rarity for the SMWS and further afield. The last SMWS release was in 2007 I believe.
- N: Ooh yeah! With moderate old skool-styley depth, we’ve notes of fruity grasses and toffee in a hessian sack. In the same vein as Glenlivet or Balvenie from an earlier era.
- T: Savoury grassy toffee at first, drying and turning a little bitter before moving towards the candy sweets and chocolate icecream. Holds a lovely dry-ness.
- F: Short but with mild/light candy fruit lingerings.
- C: Lovely surprise. Impressive depth/maturity for a 12yo. Something happened to whisky in the mid-late 2000’s when this style slowly but surely became less prevalent.
Scores 87 points
Auchentoshan 2000 17yo SMWS 5.62 ‘Crumbled sweets in a leather satchel’ [240 bts] 58.8% WB0
Fifteen years in ex-bourbon with a two year 1st-fill ex-oloroso hogshead finish.
- N: I’m straight on my BMX and off down to Desmond’s for all sorts of [1980’s] sweetshop candy. Amazing chacha-esque [Georgian Brandy] candy fruits, pink wafers, pink icecream, a little chalk, mild Lush [rose] soap, scratch n sniff fruits, red string, murky aniseed drops, cinnamon drops, ginger, honeycomb, bubblegum,…… So many candy sugars but it’s never grotesquely sweet – there’s a remarkably light delicacy to this 17yo.
- T: Like the nose, the palate is abound with firm flavours but the spirit is again pure, light & delicate. Descriptors however speak of vibrant synthetic>>scratch n sniff=stationary>acetone fruity flavours and [Strathclyde-esque] caramel/butterscotch<shortbread into pancakes<toasted danish waffles. Another wave sees aniseed drops,… oh so many things. I’ll have to take a bottle.
- F: Candy/cognac sugars with more rose and pink wafers.
- On the back of a bewildering visit to the Auchentoshan distillery last year [blog], I imagine this must come close to exhibiting the essence of Auchentoshan, if that were such a thing. [Maybe the Flemish Jedi could clarify?] Furthermore, I recently said about the SMWS cask #5.60 “Perhaps the most characterful Auchentoshan I’ve had” [blog]. I imagine both 5.60 WB & 5.62 WB are closely related. If so, what a difference a year makes. By far the best Auchie I’ve tried.
Scores 87 points
Dailuaine 2004 13yo SMWS 41.102 ‘Kiwi marmalade on a hot cross bun’ [258 bts] 55.6% WB0
From an ex-oloroso butt to a 1st-fill red wine barrique. Yikes! Out of the pan,…
- N: Bubblegum oloroso, dampish pepper, scented stationary rubbers, sweet redcurrant jelly, a little strawberry and gooseberry-tutti-fruity. Water brings out more subterranean notes of soft mineral, simple dry soil,…. [no further notes].
- T: It’s a big dram. The oloroso speaks first before things get interesting. Oloroso shifts to a more [strange] PX/Amontillado sherry style with rubbery arm bands and weird-sweet dry-cream putty,
- F: More funny business on oloroso bubblegum with cinnamon to the fore.
- C Tastes far less wrong than it looks on paper. Somehow it works though clearly this style isn’t going to please everyone. Not recommended as your first Dailuaine or it might taint your perception of that wonderful distillery’s character forever.
Scores 84 points
Glenlossie 1992 24yo SMWS 46.58 ‘Living the high life’ [282 bts] 53.2% WB86.25
- N: Similar to the Braes; richly honeyed & grassy.
- T: Despite a welcoming arrival, it’s more astringent than the gentler Braes. Water brings them closer together but time is key. Honeyed with a little candy after some desirable dunnage-y refill bourbon action, this really starts to sing after an hour or so.
- F: Softening over time, creamy candy notes with a touch of flint.
- C: Give it an hour+ and it’s a cracker. A mark more overall than the Braeval, though the Braes wins the nose.
Scores 88 points
Glen Scotia 2006 11yo SMWS 93.81 ‘Maple peat-smoked bacon doughnut’ [180 bts] 58.5% WB0
- N: We are at the Butchers! I’ve never nosed such a meaty dram, raw and poor/processed meats at that. Interesting that the SMWS tasting panel went for fish on the nose. I got turkey slices, maple ham, meats>cheeses – all slightly sweaty – meaty-stuffed [large] olives, canvas tents,…
- T: A strong robust spirit presented with pickled onion/sage stuffing meats, vinegary meaty>peat,…. A unique meaty doughy dryness ensues, like a smoky processed meat Wellington if you will.
- F: More highly processed meat slices: smoked ham>turkey=chicken.
- C: Unique, memorable, particular. Ideal food-pairing whisky obviously.
Scores 88 points
SMWS: “March’s Outturn has been created in recognition of International Women’s Day on the 8th and pays homage to the inspirational females in all of our lives“.