We had a good feeling about this one and we weren’t wrong. July’s outturn is dripping with raspberry jam, Quality Street and toast. Incredibly sweet, with lots of ex-bourbon casks and some very high quality wood, it’s capped by some big Islay fun including an old Caol Ila and a young Kilchoman. Happy Summer!
SMWS 85.31, A toy shop in an orange grove, Glen Elgin, 15 years old, 56.1% A⊕
6th October 1999, refill bourbon, 311 bottles.
Nose - Orange hand soap. Beautifully deep and sweet, foam sweets and candied rose petals. Rich Turkish delight (melting chocolate in this heat) and chocolate toffee Quality Street. Bright, balanced, malty and very delicious. Water brings out a lovely herbal quality.
Body - Sweet, spicy and menthol. Horlicks and orange oil, more Quality Street. Spicier with water with a sharper top note that makes it less one dimensional.
Finish - Medium, good oils, gentle chocolate. Spicy and perfumed with water, lots of rose water and lemon oil, pine notes throughout and lemon and lime. Some bitterness lingers at the end.
A really interesting and solid performer. A real taster, highly recommended.
SMWS 77.37, Baked fruits and nuts, Glen Ord, 13 years old, 58.4% A⊕
3rd April 2001, refill bourbon, 293 bottles.
Nose - Light, quality cask and good wax. Lemon tart, roasted cashews, Christmas fruit and nuts, wine poached pears and leatherette. With time, lemon zest - brighter. Again, a really high quality nose - top quality start to this session! Nuts and laundry with water.
Body - Sweet, bright and intense, zippy lemon, pepper and tomato juice. Very savoury, almost with a vinegar edge, quite delicious. Much juicier on the palate with water, loads of fruit and lots of tannic grapefruit.
Finish - Long and quite winey in the finish, sweet and sour and big bitter tannins at the back. Very compelling. Orange juice with water, more spice and burnt toast right at the very end.
This is a big whisky. Balanced and intense, lots of fruit developing with water. Beautiful.
SMWS 55.30, Remarkable freshness, beguiling sweetness, Royal Brackla, 14 years old, 57.6% A⊕
26th September 2000, refill bourbon, 288 bottles.
Nose - Light, clear and clean. Furniture polish, new wood, more lemon, more pastry. Sharpened pencils and cherry Tunes. It has a real, high quality cask thing going on. Sweet and elegantly wooded. With water, warmer and more wooded, some Victoria sponge.
Body - Rich, three dimensional and cakey. Cherry brownies and bounty bars. Big, sweet and bruising. Slightly spicier, a little burnt with water.
Finish - Long, tannic and mouthfilling. Neapolitan ice cream. Fruitier and spicier with water. Very good.
A bit more structure and more three dimensional but sharper than the previous two, still lovely stuff.
SMWS 26.113, A joy to savour, Clynelish, 10 years old, 58.3% A-
3rd June 2004, first fill bourbon, 185 bottles.
Nose - Bright, raspberry jam and ice cream, a touch of iron filings and icing sugar. 7-up and Mr. Whippy. Driftwood. More cask with water, less obviously sweet but better balance, a touch of swimming pool and (by association) suntan cream.
Body - Deep and intense, fruit syrup, almost like neat Vimto. Big, intense, sweet black fruits. Even sweeter with water, wow, saccharine sweet, diet coke concentrate Eek!
Finish - Medium, very sweet, balancing tannins, lemongrass.
Weirdly, a lovely big intense whisky neat and just way over the top with water. Artificial sweetener. Buy it for the neat experience if you like but it's all over the place diluted.
SMWS 26.114, Grandma's summer jam recipe, Clyenlish, 11 years old, 61% A+
16th Jun 2003, first fill bourbon, 238 bottles. Obviously this was the “mid month” special last month to go with the ice cream, but this is the first time I got to try it.
Nose - Bright and metallic, raspberry jam, red wine and permanent markers. The blue hundreds and thousands liquorice allsort. Swimming pool and deodorant. Cigar tobacco. With water, jam sponge, toffee pennies - lovely.
Body - Very sweet, intense ice cream, liquorice torpedoes and red wine. Sweeter and even more mouthfilling with water, bigger on the vanilla and cake - richly sweet but not cloying.
Finish - Long, drying turning into tannins. A touch of sandalwood.
All gone but this was a big one, absolutely delicious and on the right side of incredibly sweet, just.
SMWS 48.59, Cidre de Glace, Balmenach, 11 years old, 62.7% B+
7th August 2003, refill bourbon, 210 bottles.
Body - Arresting! Big, intense, almost sour in the tannins, backed by enormous sweetness. Menthol, wax and pineapple sweets. Even more with water, not spicy but intensely wooded (new pine) and incredibly sweet.
Finish - Long, extremely sweet, very long tannins linger.
An intense but ultimately unbalanced whisky - incredibly sweet and big bitterness at the end, lacks midrange and doesn't hang together.
SMWS 50.65, Tutti Frutti, Bladnoch, 25 years old, 52.5% A⊕+
26th January 1990, refill bourbon, 87 bottles.
Nose - Bright, lewd and fruity at first. Juicy fruit chewing gum, watermelon sweets, freshly cut red chilli and fresh cut flower stems. Pomegranite. Walking a line between fruit and fresh vegetable, tropical with balancing tobacco.
Body - Hubba bubba and chilli, deeply tropical with ancient cask. Toast and honey, floral and a touch of sulphur. A little overbalanced on the tannins with water perhaps? Splitting hairs.
Finish - Very drying to balance the lewd fruit. Long and spicy tobacco. Toffee and oak.
This is extremely good. I love it when a whisky just shouts quality, and is extremely drinkable. You wouldn't be unhappy with this as a £400 OB, the balance is spot on for a single cask.
BUY and don’t hang about, it’s only 87 bottles.
SMWS 44.64, You can fly, Craigellachie, 24 years old, 52% A+
13th August 1990, refill bourbon, 288 bottles.
Nose - Gentle, balanced, soft and sweet but with warming notes of rosemary and cumin. Fruit salad chews and marshmallow, pistachio ice cream? Lovely and sweet but nutty, almost like a sherry, but almost too polite. With water, the tobacco and cask comes out a bit more.
Body - Sweet, gentle, rounded and balanced, with tobacco providing some spice at the front of the tongue while the big old bourbon cask rolls round the mouth. Orange toffee and chocolate. Marmalade.
Finish - Long, winey, hobnobs, then jaffa cakes (not so much the orange, more that "sponge" base plus the chocolate).
This is a seriously delicious whisky but needs to stand up for itself a bit more.
SMWS 35.135, A pure stoater!, Glen Moray, 20 years old, 55.9% A⊕
11th November 1994, First fill toasted oak hogshead, 269 bottles.
20 years (I assume!) in a single first fill toasted oak? A real curiosity. Let’s see…
Nose - Rabbit food, strawberry laces, unmistakably bourbon. Carrot cakes, praline, deeply sweet lacquered with a balancing char. This is a good bourbon nose, very reminiscent of Stagg, although this drops off over time, with some a touch of sulphur.
Body - Sweet and toffeed, floral and fruity, much more Scotch than the nose suggests. Good wood, pepper, fruit. Rather lovely - intensely sweet but with a balancing tannin and sulphur.
Finish - The bourbon is back for the finish. But lots of toffee and good wood, and dark Stagg wood varnish at the end..
Hmm… a fascinating experiment over 20 years that seems to have paid off, for £70?
SMWS 76.123, Warm, joyous and gratifying, Mortlach, 27 years old, 52.2% A⊕
24th September 1987, refill bourbon, 214 bottles.
Nose - Bright ozone, marker pens and light menthol, but very floral and hints of turmeric. Raspberry jam, banana bread with raisins, cedar planks and lots of pastries and coffee. Balanced, competent and expensive (smelling).
Body - Bright, dusty like an old Islay, almost a touch of parmas. Sweet and old, beautiful Danish pastries, more jam! A touch of funk, giving it a little more class. A lovely old cask.
Finish - Medium, old and dusty. Drying at the back of the throat, big tannins. Sweet and very special.
This is just on the right side of the line between great and wrong - there's big bitterness and tannins in here and lots of sweetness, I'm very impressed but John not so much.
SMWS 7.114, Ode to Grown up George, Longmorn, 25 years old, 56.9% A+
11th December 1989, 20 years in refill bourbon followed by 5 years in second fill port barrique, 253 bottles. A controversial multi-maturation for SMWS – although rumour has it this wasn’t the first time. Perhaps the first time declared though.
Nose - Deliciously sweet and fruity, more jam and dirty wine. Magic balloons, new out of the box paddling pool, toast and cranberry jelly. The toffee chocolate Quality Street are back. Extraordinarily ripe.
Body - Very sweet and fizzy, crackers (water biscuits) with butter, old fag ends and wet cardboard. With water, that comes together a bit more - the sweet cheap perfume and some sulphur comes through and it's balanced by better tannins.
Finish - Long and very sweet, cloyingly sweet in fact. There's an element of unfermented wort and yeast starter in here. With water it's better, there's balancing black pepper and tannins, but the integration is off.
This is an awkward whisky with the integration off for me - there's good, interesting things in here but this newly opened bottle needs (in my experience) a good airing and a bit more time and attention than I can give it.
As a controversial and collectable whisky this is still a buy, and I think this will open up with time. I'm sticking with a BUY. But it's not all plain sailing.
SMWS 39.107, Coconut oil and candy floss, Linkwood, 10 years old, 61.3% A
7th May 2004, refill bourbon, 227 bottles.
Body - Extra strong mints and Blackpool rock. Chalky bonbons. Warm, sweet and rather lovely. A little winey.
Finish - Long and winey. Good but quite ordinary in this company. A jobbing society Linkwood.
SMWS 66.68, Bon Appétit, Ardmore, 11 years old, 60.9% A
17th November 2003, refill bourbon, 217 bottles. Must remember not to be too impressed by the peat….
Nose - You can smell the bacon frazzles from the glass before bringing it to your nose. Sweet, smoked streaky bacon, and lavender - a bacon sandwich with lots of butter and brown sauce. Heaven after the enormous amounts of sugar that preceded it. Sweeter with water, but shows its youth a bit - still, lovely stuff.
Body - Sweet, floral with lots of toast and butter. More lavender, lime zest, fried rosemary. Sugar sandwiches.
Finish - Long, intensely peated, loads of tannins and very toasted. Tarry ropes. Less astringent with water but still big, fishy and intense, with pipe tobacco and dandelion and burdock.
This was a serious relief after the candied delights before, but it's quite a big, tough whisky.
SMWS 53.223, Angels and Demons, Caol Ila, 23 years old, 56.5% A⊕
17th January 1992, refill bourbon, 260 bottles.
Nose - Oily and malted, sweet and salty. Mackerel and engine oil, Germolene and mussels cooked in burning hay, with fried rosemary oil. Dry, oily, medicinal but with lurking sweetness, wet cardboard and overripe fruit. With water, fishier.
Body - Tinned pineapple, toast, roasted barley, malt, mango chutney (with pepper and cardamom). Incredibly sweet. Apricot jam with water, on toast! Lots of toast this month.
Finish - Incredibly peated, very numbing. Very, very long, with tropical top notes and more mango chutney. Finally, coal.
BBQ, fish, incredibly sweet, fruit, curry. This is a big, slightly deranged, rollercoaster of a whisky that definitely works and takes no prisoners. Hence…
SMWS 29.160, Fifty shades of dark, Laphroaig, 17 years old, 51.5% A
3rd October 1997, refill bourbon, 267 bottles.
Nose - Sweet, quite light actually, austere with very light medicinal edge and some good cereal. Deeper digging gives honey, soy sauce, tea leaves and seaweed. It's a really gentle Laph but quite rewarding.
Body - Sweet and gentle, popcorn, gunpowder and malted barley. A touch of bandage, some cigarette.
Finish - Quite long, a bit funky, some orange and brett.
To be honest we hit this too late, but how would you know? It's gentle, fishy, calm and forecourt-y. This is good but not as good as last month’s.
SMWS 129.7, An artist in an antique boat, Kilchoman, 4 years old, 64.5% B+
29th June 2010, first fill bourbon, 272 bottles.
Body - Extraordinarily sweet and tannic, brutal. Don't take this the wrong way, but there's a meths thing going on here. A real party smasher. With an iceberg of water, there's extra strong mints and apple, but it takes a lot of work.
Finish - Long, lots of pear. Pastry rolled on marble, but very dry. It's less peaty and numbing than the Ardmore on the finish though.
A good nose on this, but just too intense and young. It has a certain, petrolic charm, but it's too expensive and too young to recommend.