Tuesday, 18 March 2014

SMWS 4.188 A Ploughman’s Picnic

Another day another SMWS Highland Park.  That’s two in March on top of the February one – seems like there are a lot of HPs and Bowmores around (I’m not complaining though).  I tried the 4.186 (Aromatic Spices and Exotic Fruits – a 22 year old refill bourbon) at Greville Street the other day but was disappointed by the delivery.  Great nose though and loads of smoke, a big surprise.  At the bar they claimed no knowledge of the 4.188 so they wouldn’t let me buy a drop, but my friend Q (something of a HP SMWS completist at the moment) sorted me out – thanks for the sample!

SMWS 4.188, Highland Park, A Ploughman’s Picnic, 61.8% A+

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13 years old, 2nd June 2000, first fill bourbon, 196 bottles.  I really struggle with images for SMWS bottles, but as I don’t even have the bottle for this one I’ve finally had to resort to a screenshot from the SMWS site!

Nose – Fresh, lemony, light and with a boiled sweets backing.  With water, the boiled sweets subside and light orange and grapefruit juice elements take over.  Fresh, sweet and with a toffee backing.  Refreshing but quite restrained.

Body – Ripe grapefruit, quite spicy, loads of silky milk chocolate and some oily, musky wood.  A lightly herbal, hammy note (that’ll be the ploughman’s pork pie) and quite peppery. With water, lovely toffee malt, a little chocolate and spice and light oak.  Later, some of the waxy, lacquered chocolate you see in some of the OBs starts to arrive.  Very smooth, quite interesting, again a little restrained but good.

Finish – Quite long, a little hot, young with citrus bitterness but not misjudged.  Despite the youth and strength, well integrated but lacking midrange.  With water, far more complex and balanced with long chocolate tones. 

What's not good about it: Young and a bit spiky, and too strong.  Certainly benefits from water.  A little restrained for me all over, but actually I think that probably works in this case.

What’s good about it: Challenging, bright, sappy, an interesting profile, well made, lots of chocolate and good value. 

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