This outturn was brought to you by the flavours of raspberry jam, coconut, chocolate hobnobs and too much spice!
Great outturn this month though. Some interesting “tasting” whiskies in here and a few big “drinking” whiskies too. If that makes any sense. Those Islays at the end are massive. Get ready…
SMWS 17.39, Relax, take it easy, Scapa, 12 years old, 56.1% A⊖
23rd January 2002, refill bourbon, 243 bottles.
Nose - Light, dusty but rich ice cream. Peaches and cream, raspberry jam, pastry and coconut, with a mineral high note. Really beautiful, rich, creamy and delicious. Hopes are set very high. With water, lighter and less of that richness but good light vanilla and lemon.
Body - Initially sweet and delicious, but then spicier and younger than expected. Finally really quite hot and quite harsh – roast (burnt) lemon and lemon pips.
Finish - Long but very hot. Ashen, sour and quite harsh with water.
A beautiful nose but a serious flaw with the heat.
SMWS 7.118, Long johns and velveteen smoking jackets, Longmorn, 12 years old, 59.1% A-
17th September 2002, refill bourbon, 224 bottles.
Body - Sweet, oak sour, more pastry and spicy again. Deep boiled sweets on the tip of the tongue.
Finish - Long and hot, dry and tannic. Lemon curd.
Better on the spice but still a bit challenging. Again, a lovely nose, lovely fruit but marred by the spice.
SMWS 7.117, Mouth-coating, viscous and weighty, Longmorn, 24 years old, 55.2% A+
15th June 1990, refill bourbon, 244 bottles.
Nose - Ripe, deep and balanced. Toffee pennies, hob nobs, white flowers, coconut ice, hot butter and deodorant. Grow-bag. With water, significantly fruitier, but pleasantly dusty like a hot summer day.
Body - Tobacco, toast and (retronasally) fresh coconut dug out of the shell with your teeth. Sweet but balanced, spicy again. With water, more masculine in the delivery.
Finish - Medium, straying into bitterness. Pine oil. Salt.
Interesting, quite intense. A really compelling savoury pastry and coconut edge, not totally integrated but interesting.
SMWS 30.85, Citric and sweet duality, Glenrothes, 21 years old, 50.2% A⊕+
9th June 1993, refill bourbon, 203 bottles.
Nose - Everything I'd hoped for. Deeply, deeply sweet, quince jelly, Brasso (thanks Ben), Sauternes and copper coins.
Body - Deep, fruity and tropical. Dusty oak and good tannins, macaroons and malted barley. Popcorn and fizzers. Delicious.
Finish - Long and understated, but tannic and drying. Very well poised. Sweeter with water.
A beautifully put together whisky. I'm so happy!
SMWS 48.56, Popcorn in a sauna, Balmenach, 13 years old, 56.3% A⊕
1st November 2001, first fill bourbon, 214 bottles.
Nose - Fresh, bright and zesty. Lemon sherbet, orange ice cream, a touch of garage forecourt and tomato leaf. Balanced by good cask - vanilla cream. Just lovely. With water, the cask comes through a bit more, with just a touch of peat. Beautiful.
Body - Deeply sweet and more pastry, earth and tomato plants. Vanilla cream and chocolate hob nobs with water. Ripe, biscuity and a little pineapple.
Finish - Medium long, Sauternes, deeply sweet. Lovely.
A beautifully made whisky, and wonderful drinking. Not a duff note played.
SMWS 39.106, Deliciously sweet but feisty, Linkwood, 10 years old, 61.1% A⊕
7th May 2004, refill bourbon, 264 bottles.
Body - Dark toffee and jaffa cake, blood orange and PVC glue. With water, lovely intensity and more balanced.
Finish - Long and sweetly oaked. Almost endless pain au raisin. Very good indeed, although not quite as good as the Balmenach.
SMWS 121.78, Dinner time!, Arran, 15 years old, 54.9% A⊕
2nd December 1999, refill bourbon, 281 bottles. A more modern Arran – so younger but made later, rather than (as usual) tasting stuff right at the end stops of how old it can theoretically be. So they should have got better at making the spirit, right?
Nose - More chocolate hobnobs. Light stone fruit, menthol tobacco, sugar puffs and Victoria sponge. Shampoo, whipped cream and Danish pastries. With water, some acrylic paint and more tobacco. It is very shampoo - in a very good way.
Body - That balanced sweet, dry, oak thing that older Arran is doing so much these days. Unripe apple and suet pastry.
Finish - Long, balancing sulphur. Dusty oak and cherry. Very good.
SMWS 41.65, Sweet couscous with Argan oil, Dailuaine, 30 years old, 48.7% A⊕
25th September 1984, refill bourbon, 86 bottles. Another ancient Dailuaine!
Nose - Sweet but dry, more fairy liquid, shoe polish and Pritt Stick (in a good way). Oloroso sherry, new printed card (John says vinyl but I think the record cover) and new carpet.
Body - Salted lemons, oak floorboards, nice biscuits, bright, complex wax and coffee. Pretty epic.
Finish - Pepper, grapefruit juice and lingering lemon zest. Quite long, very balanced overall and generally epic. Enormous. But lacking just a touch of midrange.
SMWS 64.61, The Angel and the Devil, Mannochmore, 13 years old, 57.6% A+
5th March 2001, first fill bourbon, 231 bottles.
Body - Lovely. Dark, ripe and cherried, but balanced with dry citric top notes. Some new make - not fully formed, but interesting and oddly compelling.
Finish - Hot and buttery, a little cloying, over the line in terms of sweetness. A confused dram that doesn't quite know what it is.
It took me a while to decide what I thought of this. It's good, definitely interesting, and quite challenging. I probably wouldn't drink it if I had it at home. A taster.
SMWS 4.205, A riddle wrapped in a mystery, Highland Park, 14 years old, 62.1% A⊕
2nd June 2000, first fill bourbon, 213 bottles.
Nose - Deep, burnt oak, embers. Beautiful Highland Park toffee. Herbal and intensely sweet with a touch of Germolene. Deeply satisfying, intense and warm, with that earthy, baked pine thing that's so society Highland Park. A really lovely nose.
Body - Ripe, intense orange and toasted oak. Charcoal and chocolate malt. Pickled lemon and Sichuan peppercorns.
Finish - Big, bitter oak and aspirin. Deep toffee. An echo of peat finally. Water brings more toasted notes with salted, roasted peanuts.
The nose is just wonderful. But the delivery is a little bitter. It's still a strong buy.
SMWS 27.109, Guns on the grouse moor, Springbank, 16 years old, 58.3% A⊕
31st May 1998, Refill sherry gorda, 738 bottles.
Nose - Immediately sexy. Mid-range heavy, dry, nutty sherry and Springbank engine oil. None of the over-nutty dryness of the 27.107 though, plenty of sweetness from (yet more) raspberry jam filled fried doughnuts, caught caramel, dark marmalade and good level of sulphur. Incredible on the nose.
Body - Wow. Intense nutty sherry but balanced perfectly against massive character, red wine and stuffed vine leaves. Salty and slow baked ham hock. Complex and winey. Balanced.
Finish - The nuts and wine comes in waves. Lingering cabbagey sulphur takes the edge of the perfection but I would expect this to sort itself with some time and air.
BUY - it's a real shame about that sulphur in the finish (in the nose it's perfect) but I'm confident it'll open up. This is an epic whisky, it's put a real smile on my face.
SMWS 29.161, A bodega is burning, Laphroaig, 14 years old, 60.4% A⊕+
14th April 2000, refill sherry, 494 bottles. This will be popular, fortunately there’s loads of it.
Nose - Intense and wonderful. Ripe toasted peat, bandages and germolene and toast and butter. The wine is perfect in here. It's like the intense TWE signatory Laph 15 but a bit less intense. Wonderful.
Body - Doesn't disappoint. Big hitting Laphroaig, sherry and TCP. Numbing peat, vinegary and ashen. Fabulous.
Finish - Long, balanced, beautiful. Intensely peated, long burnt barley and burnt sulphur.
Wonderful stuff, again. Society Laphroaigs can do no wrong at the moment. Make no mistake though, this is robust.
SMWS 53.220, Flirting with Florence Nightingale, Caol Ila, 17 years old, 57.2% A⊕
3rd March 1997, refill bourbon, 253 bottles. Good to see Caol Ila back on the menu! You had me worried for a bit then…
Nose - We should have done this before the Laphraoig (sorry John). Sweet and sour, S&V. Barley and acrylic. Cut cherry, spaghetti bolognaise, permanent marker. Strawberry glaze and vanilla essence. Laundrette. In time, some seriously old Islay comes through.
Body - Rich and ripe - Portuguese vanilla tart. Tobacco and licked new leather.
Finish - Salty. Tannic. Leather belt. Big and brutal but also has a backnote of that old dusty Islay thing - that's what you're left with. This is old beyond its years.
Another interesting whisky, but very drinkable too. Tannic, very drying, but loaded with sweetness. Really divided but definitely works. What a remarkable whisky.
Have a great month!