April saw a large outturn at the SMWS. Of the 21 expressions, here’s my selection of six.
Benriach 2009 8yo SMWS 12.9 ‘Colourful character’ [208 bts] 61.5% WB0
First up, a dram courtesy of Geoff and congratulations on his ‘official’ retirement.
- N: Familiar youthful SMWS house style, such is the similar nature of young CS, 1st fill bourbon single cask malts – namely a floury, honeyed, raw bourbon cereal dram. If you like this style, get yourself an SMWS membership ASAP.
- T: It takes water with ease, though raw and a little sour it remains even 90 minutes on. Despite its dry-rawness, it’s somewhat salivating too.
- F: Prickly though cereal-faithful to the last.
- C: A bit too edgy for my palate but I know others liked this very much.
Scores 80 points
Glenfarclas 1997 20yo SMWS 1.206 ‘Sumptuous scrumptious’ [252 bts] 54% WB0
1st fill PX! I’m open minded. There’s no reason why this cant be fine.
- N: Beholds a strange sweetness. Think strawberry Angle Delight with a drop of Ecover washing up liquid. Whilst trying to limit the shopping list, we have sugar syrup, miso, smoky chestnuts, tweet jackets,…, Succinctly put: smoky natural fibres and oriental notes underpinned by an odd sherried sweetness. An unusual yet likeable combo.
- T: Again the PX aides a very particular taste profile that includes leather, smoke, toasted [icing] sugar, a waxy industrial sweetness, gritty oily/mineral notes, carbon granules,….
- F: A dry, sherry-sweet, fresh-ish finish with smokey maple bacon.
- C: These 1st fill casks can be a handful, and then there’s the PX on top – but is this only a finish or the whole 20 years? Overall, it’s curious nature that will certainly work for many.
Scores 81 points
Glen Moray 1995 22yo SMWS 35.207 ‘Pine nuts on a baked apple pie’ [208 bts] 54.4% WB0
1st fill ex-bourbon.
- N: Simple and delicious aromas of vanilla creme brulee, icing sugar, chalky solder, the white flesh of a small red apple and Action Man’s hands!
- T: Floury to peppery [but water sorts the latter], and banana candy joins the still youthful vanilla cream bourbon. Water also makes this one almost bone dry, though there’s still quite some raw resinousness lurking. The heart of this is the cereal spirit that shows its 22 years of worth.
- F: The finish really shines. Soft overall, only a touch sharp/green with a slight cinnamon heat, talc/sherbet, floury vanilla powder and chalk powder at the death.
- C: Decent, uncomplicated malt with a subtle yet effective demonstration of a well matured spirit – one with plenty of understated complexities lurking underside.
Scores 85 points
Glenlossie 1992 24yo SMWS 46.59 ‘A reward for being human’ [252bts] 53.5% WB87
Another similar aged Speysider, this time from a 2nd fill ex-bourbon cask.
- N: This simply needs tempering/opening up/diluting even, as straight out of the box its potent, yeasty and abv fuelled. With water we’ve hessian honey, wafer and sweet oat Digestive biscuits. Becomes a little richer with time.
- T: Glenlossie works great at this kind of age as we’ve seen recently with another 24yo from SMWS’s March outturn [Blog88] – a sister cask? With a somewhat tacky/sticky mouthfeel becoming more waxy on the turn, this simply works. An hour later, we’ve an even richer bourbon depth, albeit sour and slightly chalky. A lovely chew.
- F: With a light cinnamon heat, this finishes on Danish pastries with dried lime pieces, cocoa, crystallising honey, sugar iced buns,.. I could go on.
- C: Decent whisky, through and through.
Scores 87 points
Longmorn 1990 27yo SMWS 7.185 ’Sweet, smooth s’more’ [150 bts] 58.1% WB0
- N: It’s sweet, not that i have a hugely sweet preference, but this I like. You can’t go wrong with this desirably deep/integrated sweet sherry nose with a sweet foosty depth. Notes then of Cognac served with crepes, toast, on-the-turn popcorn and one slowly caramelising marshmallow. Looking again, I found a deep & distant yet permeated mouldy milky sour note combined with a drop of honeyed Baby Cham – a character that speaks of 27 years in a bourbon cask [save for the Baby Cham, that’s more for Sake].
- T: Reminds me immediately of my one day in the Aberfeldy warehouse and a meeting with a particular single cask from 1987. This echoes cask #49’s same uncomplicated nature, clearly heavily aged and drinkable even if somewhat concentrated and woody – but one that holds itself just fine. Later I find lingering sour dry honeyed candy fruits, toasted barley and sour yet sugary? cereal/fruits. There’s some bubblegum/aniseed/cinnamon/root beer heat even with time and water.
- F: It’s toast-dry with a touch of smoke and toasted barleycorn skins, whilst always maintaining those rich sherried candy fruits – albeit distant by now.
- C: Possibly a tad over but very decent and most likeable.
Scores 87 points
Caol Ila 2006 11yo SMWS 53.251 ‘Peat fire magic’ [290 bts] 57.8% WB0
- N: Heavily salty, earthy and oily with plenty of complexity coming with time. Lots here.
- T: Barley ashy, dry stuff, kernels, grain,..
- F: A dry smoke, creosote bitter smoke, charcoal and a burned nutty finish.
- C: Another good dram though I very much admire the official 12yo.
Scores 86 points