A couple from the January 2015 outturn that I wanted to try but was distracted by shiny secret extra bottles, and as Phil rated them highly I circled back for them before February landed.
While wildly different they’re a really good example of what’s good about SMWS. They’re intense, challenging, interesting, a bit young and good value. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked whether joining SMWS is a good idea, and it’s access to bottles like these, and the big Port Charlottes, that easily demonstrate why (if you’re passionate about whisky) joining is a no brainer.
SMWS 39.105, Linkwood, Pirates puddings on the deck, 14 years old, 58.1% A+
Nose - Intense red fruit - like dried cranberry, with pine planks, and yoghurt coated raisins. Still, quite light and a nice sulphur edge, and a good shiny sweetness to it. With water, it takes the edge off the youth - more rounded and reasonable, and with time, an almost hoppy floral character, plus a dusty, almost peaty musk, which is lovely.
Body - Sweet sulphur, fizzing oak, crunchy cereal bar. With water, much more gentle, soft sulphur and orange squash.
Finish - Medium, boiled sweets and long wood sourness. With water, some spice comes through.
What's not good about it - A little uncompromising at first. Also there's an off kilter sourness in here.
What's good about it - But with time and water, a really structured and interesting young Linkwood comes through.
SMWS 66.59, Ardmore, Nieve de Leche Quemada, 12 years old, 57.4% A+
Nose - A lovely light, elegant peat smoke. Ripe and wooded, sweet and bright, almost vinegar sour, like salad dressing on cress, or fresh, salty chips, and oyster shells. Some swimming pool (haven't smelled that in a whisky for a while) and perhaps a hint of VWP sanitiser. With water, even brighter, even sweeter, and a bit more masculine (in a musky way).
Body - Insistent but balanced cereal peat. Then a big hit of bitterness right at the roof of the mouth. Very sweet with a counterbalance of chewed aspirin.
Finish - Long, spicy, very insistent with the bitterness and a lingering cough candy boiled sweetness. With water, refreshers and oats.
What's not good about it - Quite challenging actually - I might not turn to this too often.
What's good about it - But this is an excellent example of a proper SMWS dram. These younger bruisers are good fun. Intense, surprising and insistent, balanced, not too expensive and good drinking. And a perfect dram to take at the bar.
Thanks Phil for the bottle shots – I totally forgot again.