Quite a gentle one on paper, but a lot of good stuff in here nonetheless, particularly in the 40-50 quid range. Also, a surprisingly large amount of white wine cask matured whisky, including a fabulous 9 year old Miltonduff (the sister cask of 72.41, which was in the enormous November outturn). And how about a (relatively mature) new Kilchoman?
Often I find with these flights that there’s a taste that reoccurs. It might be lingering on the palate, or it might be in the air. Maybe it’s just my brain or nose that day or maybe it’s autosuggestive. This month it’s mezcal. I try and filter it out once I identify it!
I don’t have notes for them, but the new Glen Grant (9.100, Coffee and cigarettes) and the Balmenach (48.54, Milkshakes and Medicine) are very good, they’re BUYs, particularly the 9 – both are in the low 40s price-wise.
SMWS 41.64, Sharing, caring loving dram, Dailuaine, 30 years old, 53.5% A+
25th Sep 1984, refill hogshead, 210 bottles
Nose - Deep, dark, magic balloons, marker pens and a backing of new make cereal and caramelised meat and sugar. Sweet, intense, juicy red fruit, pineapple - so complex and intense, but a bit obvious. With water, juicier, shiny toffee and a touch more savoury.
Body - Intensely wooded, spicy, catches the back of the throat with wet oak. With water, a little gentler on the oak but still challengingly bitter.
Finish - Quite short, a little flat.
SMWS 35.128, A tropical tango of taste, Glen Moray, 11 years old, 60.5% A
10th Dec 2002, first fill barrel, 239 bottles
Body - Intensely toffeed, spicy honey glaze. With water, more spice, a bit more herbal.
Finish - Medium, oily, a little musk. Water - a little bitter. Meh.
SMWS 84.17, Fluffernutter, Glendullan, 13 years old, 56.2% A+
4th Oct 2001, refill barrel, 207 bottles
Body - Sweet, oily and intensely spicy. Mouthfilling and intense, almost peated but with a real orange zest zing. Intensely summery.
Finish - Agave. Long and intense, like a mezcal.
Very good, summery and zesty but a little challenging in terms of intensity.
SMWS 85.29, Glen Elgin, Best of the Med, 15 years old, 54.2% A+
6th Oct 1999, refill hogshead, 290 bottles
Body - Deep, waxy and spicy at the back of the throat. Musky like Seville orange and lime - plus a hint of rosemary. More menthol with water and a bit of E45 cream.
Finish - Medium, oily, musky like a HP. Good stuff, not mind blowing but interesting, complex and well balanced. You won’t be disappointed with this but it falls just short of a buy for me.
SMWS 50.63, Bladnoch, Boozy buccaneers!, 24 years old 58.3% A⊕
15th May 1990, refill bourbon barrel, 126 bottles
Body - Sweet, zesty and darkly sexy. Refreshers. Spicy and Chinese - rice, ginger and chilli.
Finish - Intensely spicy, bitter but balanced. Long and winey - green wine gums (thanks Sam). This is a big bruiser, complex and intense Bladnoch. Takes no prisoners and totally confident, good stuff (as expected).
SMWS 73.69, Aultmore, Dark side eclipsed by sweet joys, 22 years old 52.9% A⊕+
27th Oct 1992, refill sherry butt, 620 bottles. The good news is that this fabulous whisky is plentiful and in the pair. The bad news is that it’s there with the Bowmore, which is uncharacteristically disappointing this month. Oh just buy it.
Nose - Dark and dirty. Deeply winey, vegetal, foresty - big old wood and sulphur. But lovely with coconut, toffee apple and smells almost lightly peated. Really reminds me of the leather from a horses tack. Really musky, meaty, earthy and delicious.
Body - Massive - peppery and deeply winey. Bright, but intensely tannic, complex and balanced. Beautiful. Even better with water, more red wine and balanced sulphur and sweetness. A massive whisky.
Finish - Medium, almost oversweet with dusty refreshers and long, perfectly balanced sulphur.
SMWS 72.43, Miltonduff, Bunsen burner and burnt capacitors, 10 years old, 59.8% A⊕
23rd Sep 2004, 1st fill white wine hogshead, 262 bottles
Nose - Fresh with ozone, but fruity and a little floral. Heavily oaked chilled chardonnay, corn and undergrowth. Minted potatoes, flint, lemon and copper. It's a bright, intense, metallic and well-judged nose.
Body - Wow - rich, waxed, warm and winey. Toffee and sulphur, deep and balanced. Epic. With water, even more intense, perfect sulphur.
Finish - Long, toffeed and ripe.
So as I said, this was the sister cask of 72.41, which was filled on the same day and turned out the same ABV (so I’m assuming from the same run of the still), into the same cask type. Although there’s another (part of, at least) year on the clock, it’s amazing how different these whiskies are. Let’s see….
SMWS 72.41, Miltonduff, Girlie holiday breakfast dram, 9 years old, 59.8% A+
23rd Sep 2004, 1st fill white wine hogshead, 273 bottles (did 11 bottles evaporate in a year or is it just the cask being different!)
Body - Sweet, zesty, ripe and fizzing. Intensely wood and citrus. Spicier citrus with water.
Finish - Long, bright lemon toffee, balanced and intense.
BUY (still available in the bar, but not online)
Comparing the two - 43 has more sulphur, sweeter with more wax on the nose. 41 is spicier, brighter and more citrus.
On the palate, 43 again more sulphured and sherried, big tannins. 41 is sweeter, waxier and feels older. Overall the 41 is spicier and more challenging, the 43 is much more rounded and "sherry". Both very good.
SMWS 66.65, Ardmore, 'Holy smoke!', 10 years old, 62.7% A+
5th Oct 2004, 1st fill white wine hogshead, 270 bottles
Nose - Wine and peat (and sulphur) really work together, they fill each other out. Medicinal - bandagey, with frazzles, but very fruity too - apple and peach. A bright, but ripe peat and fruit experience.
Body - Sweet and sour, seashells and blue cornmeal. Ripe cereal.
Finish - Long, sweet raisins, burnt tart tatin.
A complex and interesting, but ultimately young Ardmore. Good stuff though.
If you're an Ardmore fan, BUY
SMWS 3.206, Bowmore, Dark and mysterious, 15 years old, 56.9% A-
25th Sep 1997, refill sherry butt, 445 bottles.
A surprise duff note from this month's Bowmore, and it's a mid-teens refill sherry too! Those are the money numbers… This was a Canadian release from a year ago (according Google).
Nose - Sweet, dark and winey. Overripe fruit, chocolate covered fudge and a backnote of new leather belt. Opal fruits, peppered smoked mackerel, and just a hint of fried onions (not in a bad way). With water, gentler and sweeter, spicy with red wine oak. Very nice.
Body - Big, spicy and peppery. Dusty cereal and very sweet at the side of the tongue. Sulphur tannins and mouthwash. With water, more generic Bowmore and more ordinary.
Finish - Long and numbing, intensely medicinal. With water, classical Bowmore but with too much bitterness.
A challenging Bowmore neat, and better with water on the nose, but doesn't work (too bitter, too one dimensional).
SMWS 129.6, Kilchoman, Peated Candy, 6yo, 58.9%
6th Nov 2008, first fill bourbon, 243 bottles.
Nose - Warmer, quite closed... but hang on…. apple skin, hard malted barley, dried earth, gravel, 80s swimming pool… The peat is soft and earthy, a bit dungy, and a museum - the bit where no-one goes, the evolution section of the natural history museum. More flash floor cleaner and strawberry laces. As this opens up it's getting better and better. With water, massively sweet like grilled bananas? And that deep, competent wood that Kilchoman effortlessly offers up at tiny ages. Happy days…
Body - Massive delivery of sweet, floral peat. Eating flower petals - something you smell as sweet but is massively bitter. With water, caramelised - floral and chilli peanuts and tomato juice?
Finish - Quite short but really floral. Beautiful grapefruit. With water, more wood, and mint toffee.
Another fascinating whisky. Highly recommended. And people wonder if they should join…!
As if that’s not enough, there’s this on the bar, not in the outturn – a 24 year old full term in a refill port barrique? And only 147 bottles? Esoteric. Pop along to Greville street and pick one up if you’re so inclined!
SMWS 7.113, Longmorn, 'Takes you to another place', 24 years old, 51.7% A⊕
11th Dec 1989, 2nd fill port barrique, 147 bottles
Nose - Bright, rich and astringent, grapefruit and almost buttery. No way would you call port on the nose, but it's delicious. Water brings more grapefruit, but now warm wood, sherbet fountain, more butter, and a light sherry note.
Body - Spicy and winey, sharp but rich. Very satisfying, and almost roast pork with water. Fabulous stuff.
Finish - Lingering grapefruit. Spicy and numbing. Very compelling.
Here’s one more! On the off chance that anyone’s still reading… This one’s also lost it’s outturn, and available at the bar.
SMWS 48.49, Balmenach, Herbal enough to please a gerbil, 26yo, 49.2% A+
30th Mar 1988, refill bourbon hogshead, 241 bottles
Nose - Elegant, restrained but luxurious, like an old Glenfiddich - a deep, malty balance in there. Toffee and turmeric, privet hedge, lemon bon bons and overripe apple. Good but restrained (but quite lovely on the nose).
Body - Deeply sweet, loads of malt immediately, juicy and balanced. Very drinkable - gluggable even. With water, no difference but then develops quite a lot of intensity and some interesting spice. Like popping candy.
Finish - Long, lemon and sweet. Quite juicy, a balancing touch of tannins. I really like this but it doesn't do much for 26 years in barrel and you can get the juicy delivery from a 10 year old. But with water, very interesting and quite complex. A confusing but very interesting and reasonably compelling whisky.