Sunday, 23 February 2014

A recent pair of SMWS Highland Parks (4.181, 4.182)

My journey from questioning the point of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society to bordering on obsessive has been short.  Tom Thomson is the architect of this – but the whisky speaks for itself. 

SMWS 4.181, A muscle man from Orkney, 54.6% A+


16 years old, 17th April 1997, refill sherry butt, 650 bottles.

Nose – Raisin and wine oak cask.  A wash of oak smoke and a real edge of dusty, dry raisins.  Dark Seville orange and rich sherry.  As you dig deeper, more dried fruit and mixed peel, some fresher darker wood and some really beautiful oak.  Eventually, some candied, bright edges and lemon boiled sweets.  Really enchanting nose.

Body – Spicy, hot but with unexpectedly high cereal levels and oaky sweetness.  Some cedar planks, some chilli and then that oaty raisin.  It’s unexpectedly dry and oaty – disappointingly so.

Finish – Cereal, barley, long with more sherbet lemon.  Washes down to spicy structure.  Well integrated.

What's not good about it: Cereal and oat is a little too prevalent.  Lacks richness, and its ultimately a disappointing palate given what was promised on the nose.

What’s good about it:  Highly addictive nose with loads of complexity.  Faultless sherry cask, lovely sweetness and a great finish.


SMWS 4.182, Slippery shape-shifter, 57.1% A⊕

4.18213 years old, 15th October 1999, first fill bourbon barrel, 230 bottles.

Nose – Malted barley and sweet, light malt tones.  A little apple flesh, some orange pity, then moss and damp humus. Quite a rich, tropical nose develops, with cocoa backing. 

Body – Chocolate and more milk chocolate, a little pineapple, some banana – quite spicy.  Sharp and sour in the same way that pineapple is.

Finish – More banana, some spice, rich, tropical sweetness.  Getting sweeter as we progress.  Lovely finish – very long and ends on numbing cloves.

What's not good about it: Sharpness is a little arresting.

What’s good about it:  Wonderful rich, tropical body.  Very long and wonderfully balanced finish.  Fabulous stuff..

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