A really solid outturn this. I was expecting something boring to ease us back in after the ridiculously large November outturn. And then the chaos and excitement of December - loads of amazing Japanese gear, the bourbon and the beautiful Macallan/Rosebank pair (which, having lived with them for a month have turned out to be two of my favourite whiskies of the year).
But no, this is a great bunch, with some really solid fifty quidders, a big old Macallan, another old, graceful Bowmore, a Royal Brackla, an old grain from a new distillery (Dumbarton) and an awkward but fascinating Springbank.
I’ve not got as many notes here as I would usually have, mainly because I got waylaid by other interesting things including an absolutely beautiful 24 year old Jura old friends like this 23 year old Glenrothes, as well as some other things I’ll write up later on. But I will try and return for the rest of the outturn before the month is up or they’re all sold out. I’ve got your back, right now, for the Macallan and Bowmore though.
If you’re wondering why they nearly all say BUY underneath, it’s because they’re worth it. More here.
And if you’re wondering what A⊕ means, I wrote up my scoring system here.
SMWS 35.115, Glen Moray, The Gentleman’s Private Club, 17 years old, 53.5% A⊕
First fill designer barrel, 179 bottles.
Nose - Sweet and simple. Juicy and spirity with emulsion paint, stollen, freshly varnished oak and orange fondant quality street. With time, the sweetness freshens up and becomes more balanced. Water releases more orange juice.
Body - Sweet, wooded, some spicy peppers and Sichuan peppercorns, a little clove. Water balances it out, and it becomes seriously delicious.
Finish - Long, very sweet and quite sharp. With water, some musky wood.
A sweet, delicious whisky. Good balance and intensity.
SMWS 55.26, Royal Brackla, Outdoor, masculine dram, 14 years old, 57.3% A⊕
Refill bourbon, 313 bottles.
Body - Intensely wooded and incredibly sweet. Cinnamon jawbreakers and icing sugar. Bracing and increasingly delicious.
Finish - Quite short, balanced, lingering wood sour.
A challenging and quite fascinating whisky, but not perfectly put together - lacking integration but very interesting.
SMWS G14.1, Dumbarton, ‘East meets West’, 28 years old, 47.8%, A+
Refill bourbon, 163 bottles.
Nose - Seriously oily, like massage oil with lots of corn, fried pork fat and something fresher - like marashino cherries? Quite odd but quite pleasant.
Body - Wow - seriously herbal - parsley and fresh cut flower stalk, fresh with ozone.
Finish - Short, clean and fresh. Refreshing and summery.
An interesting and very clean dram with a really oily, corn led nose. BUY this and save it until summer.
SMWS 24.128, Macallan, Posh ladies on the prom!, 29 years old, 51.1%, A+
Refill bourbon, 209 bottles.
Nose - Light, sweet cereal, midget gems and a little garage forecourt (petrol, coffee). Water washes it away a bit, but deep wood sweetness remains.
Body - Very sweet, very spicy, deep musk and quite a lot of wood. Water brings the bitterness from the finish forward but tones down the delivery too much.
Finish - Long and bitter, but pleasantly so. Long wood sour and orange zest. A complex and interesting finish.
An elegant delicious and fresh dram, but not up to the cost or the billing.
SMWS 27.108, Springbank, A savoury experience!, 14 years old, 53.2% A+
Refill bourbon, 174 bottles.
Nose - Very strange. Pizza with tomato sauce made with cheap oregano, but some sweet wax and wood in the background. Very restrained but not wrong, apart from a slightly young note l don't really appreciate. Might be closed because the bottle was freshly opened too. Highly irregular for a Springbank.
Body - Boom - no more restraint, and a return of the Springbank character. Intense citric acid and sweet wax. All is forgiven. More Springbank wood and oily with water.
Finish - Long, oily, sharp S&V crisps. Lingering intense acidic notes, and good musky wood.
An odd whisky and an odd development. Very interesting. Still a BUY if that appeals.
SMWS 3.235, Bowmore, The happy camping holiday, 26 years old, 50.9%, A⊕+
Refill bourbon, 202 bottles.
Nose - Dark, balanced and ripe. Much more grown up than the November 26yo Bowmore, only the faintest hint of parmas and fizzers. Beautifully sweet (fairy liquid), floral, but with savoury complexity supplied by buttery mashed potato and fried rosemary.
Body - Wow - intense parmas and spicy toffee, with modelling clay and flat pack furniture and a back belt of tannic sulphur. Weirdly like mango squash in a new plastic cup (thanks for that one Sam). With water, more "ordinary" parma led old Bowmore but still backed up by that balancing, structural sulphur.
Finish - Quite long, spicy and woody. Quite intense actually. Water lessens the intensity of this overall and brings out an unbalanced bitterness - much preferred neat. As usual with these old Bowmores, the peat is haunting and totally integrated rather than it being “peated”.
An absolutely epic whisky.
SMWS 53.218, Caol Ila, Philadeplhia cigar 'perfection', 14 years old, 64.4%, A⊕+
Refill bourbon, 242 bottles. Quite a young Caol Ila for an SMWS release, hence a good price. And quite mild for a young Caol Ila also. Fabulous, as usual, though.
Body - Sweet, structured, good bitterness, beautiful musky wood and sulphur.
Finish - Long, dusty refreshers, floral and beautiful.
I love it.