Whilst in Edinburgh, I finally made it to The Vaults – home of the SMWS. En route I took a walk through Holyrood Park and a jaunt up Arthur’s Seat.
And then onto Cadenhead’s. On the other side of the road, a band were performing from the first floor windows.
Raining when I arrived at the Vaults, the sun was beaming yet again an hour later. I asked at the bar whether they had any ‘Jamaica me Crazy‘ [Blog]. What were the chances? None! So I went for R11.4 instead.
Worthy Park 2010 6yo SMWS R11.4 ‘Tasty Treat’ [267 bts] 66.1% SMWS
- N: Rubbery/waxy herbal resins, over-ripe bananas, banana liqueur, banana candy, varnishing freshly sanded floors, a touch of floral vanilla eucalyptus/vapour rub & shoe polish, goji berries – still partially dehydrated,….. Water brings out blueberry muffins and a sweet herbal tincture quality. I simply love the nose which only gets better more than an hour later, with a milky note forming. Here’s hoping [as always], that the palate follows suit.
- T: Spicy start [neat] with a sultana and banana chew. More blueberry muffin with water though diluting brings a firm bitter note too. It’s a little sharp throughout but that doesn’t detract from the caramel savoury-sweet, herbal, waxy-dry chew – feeling very Jamaican and faithful to the essence of sugar cane. Turns from caramel to [white] chocolate at times, before residing with a herbal waxiness which has something of the mouthfeel quality of Coco Lopez [hardly Jamaican now].
- F: Strikingly a blackcurrant Tunes lozenge finish. There are more muffin-like qualities with water, coupled again with that controlled bitter note that continually lifts off as fruity vanilla notes settle things. A dry butyric<astringency merely niggles from time to time, part of a long finish that possesses a desirable complexity and tastiness. Savoury herbal to the last with a clean banana-ry herbal witch hazel conclusion.
- C: £59 for a decent bottle of Worthy Park with an underlying, distillery Rum-Bar/Jamaican character is highly desirable. Thankfully [for drinkers], these decent single cask rums are still slipping under the radar.
Scores 88 points
It’s looking like a strange flight, as always. I order food [which was excellent and fairly priced], before asking after #64.
Mannochmore 2008/2017 SMWS 64.98 ‘Champagne Sherbet’ [201 bts] 60.5% WB82
- N: That’s young Mannochmore alright, presented at full power. That means, vanilla rocket fuel with a bucket of pencil shavings thrown in. Water isn’t going to touch it, though having said that, some bung cloth & fruity candy=berries do emerge with dilution. Like the 1988 vintage that follows, there’s an emerging coppery farmy note, though with little creaminess/cheesy-ness by comparison.
- T: Yikes! It’s like a Strathmill with balls. Despite the sheer initial power, the honeyed malt does manage to flow through. Seemingly this malt doesn’t budge or waver past that, but give it plenty of water & time and the malty honey qualities do relax some. There develops a floral/fruit candy quality from within that malty grip, and also some biscuit notes also, but that fairly un-wavering form soon becomes tedious.
- F: Pillow-soft dryness on the turn, with vanilla, pencil shavings, a little more sponge, a biscuity maltiness with a few baked raisins thrown in and a touch of baking powder. Not dissimilar to young Balblair on the finish, known for its robust quality spirit.
- C: Sometimes this style of malt comes across better after more interesting/complex/academic whiskies, as a welcoming time-out dram – the more plain & resolute qualities potentially appearing more remarkable & admirable by contrast. I haven’t greeted the last few Mannochmore releases from SMWS with great fanfare, but this one [released in 2017], is closer to the money.
Scores 82 points
Finished in a 1st Fill Charred Ex-Red Wine Barrique, I got a free and generous snifter after baulking at the dram price of £18.50 – though only £175 a bottle. That maths ain’t right.
- N: This gives off oils that only age brings, along with a refined vanilla cask dunnage note – what Charles Maclean more appropriately calls bung cloth [I think]. Peanuts come to the fore alongside oily candy and floral boiled sweets. It’s a familiar nose with common traits that many a well-aged whisky from a decent bourbon-cask display. Last time I came across it was a few days earlier at the Fringe [Blog], in the form of a 1979 BBR single blend. A touch of metallic clotted cream comes later, surprisingly cheesy – almost cheesecake-y & also brie-like.
- T: Water helps it breathe and separate but initially it arrives like a wedge of crystalised sugars and a vanilla/bourbon-led maltiness. Those 29 years of maturation don’t seem to have conjured much complexity, the spirit seemingly unwilling or unable to transform into much more than a beautifully balanced/neutral cask-aged spirit. It’s a simple yet pleasing profile if a tad dry.
- F: Old bourbon-led finish, so no surprises there. Wine, what wine?
- C: There are younger & cheaper options but this is a fine older expression at a decent price.
Scores 87 points