This is a very large outturn that signals the beginning of Christmas. Whisky begins Christmas in September and ends at the start of December. I suppose people who are into things that take a minimum of a decade to be awesome are into planning ahead too!
There’s no mention in the notes or labels of any of the bottles in this outturn of any finishes being used, and I’m a little concerned that this isn’t actually the case. I don’t remember seeing any gorda casks at Glenrothes when I went there but we have one apparently 19 years, full term in gorda here in this outturn. I’m not adverse to finishes obviously but I do like to know (in forensic detail if possible) where my whisky has been.
By the way, this is also a really, really good outturn and it’s going to cost you a lot of money. It’s full of cracking first fill bourbon, great value young bottles, menthol and sugar, enjoy and Merry Christmas!
SMWS 7.139, Longmorn, Salsa Verde, 11 years old, 60.5% A+
7th September 2004, 186 bottles, first fill bourbon
Nose - Bright and fruity, but grainy and exotic, like a silver tequila. Tropical with fruit salad chews and banana Nesquik. Despite all that rich, sweet fruit it has a balancing hard edge (like a yellow grain whisky). Even better with water (more wood, more rich wood and hard mineral). I like it.
Body - Very hot neat, spicy with more bananas and crème de menthe. A bit too tough with water.
Finish - Long with menthol cigarettes and numbing like extra strong mints. More tobacco with water, and cinnamon jawbreakers. Mint and tropical burps (that's a new one).
Careful digging is required to extract the quite balanced and significant fruit, wood and menthol in this dram - just drinking it means the spice dominates.
SMWS 41.77, Dailuaine, Spring in your step, 11 years old, 59.1% A⊕
11th May 2004, 198 bottles, first fill bourbon
Nose - More restrained than the Longmorn, a touch of strawberry and flat pack furniture (pine planks and cardboard). But give it time (new bottle, I paused this one for the Glenlossie) and a world of fruit and almost Sauternes like sweetness comes through with Victoria sponge and ripe peach. More fruit, more cask musk with water. Lovely.
Body - Beautifully sweet, lacquered wood with tons of fruit (strawberry daiquiri mix) and wham bar. Even fruitier with water, but balanced by grown up, slightly funky notes (like a raspberry Lambic)
Finish - Long, more dessert wine with candied orange peel and glace cherry.
What a difference a little patience makes. A fantastic whisky.
SMWS 46.42, Glenlossie, Yummy Scrummy, 13 years old, 58.3% A+'
31st May 2002, 498 bottles, first fill Oloroso butt (not sure about this - the printed material all says refill, the label says first fill)
Nose - Sweet but structured sherry (dry currants, slightly sour), rich underneath with pastry and strawberry jam… but it’s right on the line between sweet and dry, with just unwrapped cigars, liquorice and burnt toast just underneath the surface. More juicy fruit with water, it opens up quite nicely.
Finish - Medium long with liquorice imps and numbing like Sichuan peppercorns. Mint at the end.
I love the nose on this but the delivery is a little sharp/sour. Still, it's a well-structured sherried drammer.
SMWS 54.39, Aberlour, 'Get a kick out of it', 9 years old, 59.9% A+
4th April 2007, 216 bottles, first fill bourbon
Body - Big, structured and more crushing menthol. But it lends it some maturity it wouldn't have otherwise had - that lacquered oak is something you can either get in 9 years with a very active cask or 40 years with a third fill.
Finish - But the finish is where it definitely feels 9 - it's long but sour and numbing (water helps). Good background funk though.
Young but high quality, a good one for the bar.
SMWS 64.79, Mannochmore, Mango in a rum spiced syrup, 11 years old, 59.3% A⊕'
26th May 2004, 156 bottles, first fill bourbon
Nose - Ripe, tropical fruit (let’s go with mango), UHU glue and oak staves. The balance of rich, refreshing, sweet, floral and acid that fruit has is here too, and it's making me think of a beach holiday (and it's not just the name - it is very hot here right now!). Underneath all this pineapple upside-down cake fun there's structural wood, Sudocrem and musk. There's also an intense society edge to it that takes me back to my first days as a member. Very good.
Body - Quite a rollercoaster, I'll see if I can remember what happened. Initially young but then immediately swept into tropical fruit (practically Lilt) but before we hit sweetened rum it comes back to quality cask, a touch of tobacco and spice, toast and honey and a background toffee funk. Less good with water (fortunately - and tellingly - this dram was mostly gone before I added any).
Finish - Brief but clean, you're left with fruit, mango curd (if such a thing exists) and panna cotta.
This is a fantastic whisky for one so young, highly recommended
SMWS 39.131, Linkwood, Caribbean habanero hot sauce, 9 years old, 59.9% A⊖
17th February 2007, 198 bottles, first fill bourbon
Nose - Hard and woody, I can get the name in the astringent red herbal smell of chillis, although you don't usually get them with shortcrust pastry and frangipane. After the sugar rush before, this has some dryness on the nose backing up that first fill cask - cigarettes, beer and perfume. I can get behind that.
Body - Spicy hot, very red, loads of chilli backed by classic young Linkwood tropical bourbon. Repeated sips (it is actually quite compelling) reveal more of the Linkwood and less of the red chilli, but give it a rest and the fire comes back, more-so with water, which also brings neat orange squash, weirdly.
Finish - Long with chilli chocolate and Mexican hot chocolate.
I'm no longer quite so much behind this although it's an interesting curio. You can't doubt the quality of the underlying whisky but the red chilli is a flaw (for me).
SMWS 48.78, Balmenach, The perfect hammock dram, 13 years old, 58.3% A
25th November 2002, 216 bottles, first fill bourbon
Nose - Light orange juice and new cardboard, washing up liquid (towards the magic bubbles end) and a touch of wasabi. With time, the orange juice deepens and strengthens and the cardboard becomes more like cigar box, but the washing up liquid remains.
Body - More chilli, chilled white wine, a little (very welcome) touch of sweet funk and loads of toffee. More herbal with water, but the shortbread biscuits rolled in brown sugar come back to get you.
Finish - Tomato stalks, a little bandage, a whole bag of demerara sugar, lots of candied orange at the end.
Things are good on paper but this is a tiring whisky - too much sugar, not enough structure.
SMWS 35.165, Glen Moray, Variety - the spice of life, 13 years old, 52.9% A⊕+
25th April 2003, 180 bottles, first fill chenin-blanc hogshead
One of two Glen Morays in the pre-xmas outturn - this appears to be full term in chenin-blanc, the other is 20 years full term in first fill bourbon. Although I am beginning to doubt that elsewhere I can believe it for Glen Moray and I’m quite excited about both of these. Great colour on this one by the way, you would have thought it was sherried.
Nose - A big, meaty, musky nose, herbal but fresh and yet funky. Again, I'm reminded of funky beers, this has a rye, brett edge to it. But this isn't beer, or red wine, it's a white wine cask and I love these for the same reason I love Fino casks - there's a fresh elegance behind the wine funk that makes them complex and refreshing. What else? Pipe tobacco, salami, tomato leaves and marinara sauce.
Body - Fabulous. It's approaching the gorda red (big, funky, dry nuts and sulphur) but balanced by green - cucumber skin, olives, Bepanthen and kiwi fruit. Fascinating, complex and balanced.
Finish - Long but gentle; kiwi, strawberry laces and more tomato leaves. Didn't try it with water.
An incredibly complex cask influence that's never overpowering or unbalanced. What a beautiful whisky. I've been buying a lot of society Glen Morays recently, so great to cross it with the gorda (but with a twist).
SMWS 35.154, Glen Moray, Rewarding end, 20 years old, 54.2% A+
27th October 1995, 216 bottles, first fill bourbon
Nose - Restrained sweetness, lanolin, hints of Ribena. Ryvita with butter and honey, fresh strawberries with their leaves., chocolate and ozone. It just seems a little… obvious compared to 35.165. A lot better with water (and time), more lemon cereal and more balanced.
Body - This London Cheesecake, with glace cherries and strawberry laces. Tastes like a 9 year old, ironically, with water - cereal and lemon.
Finish - Medium and gripping - very sweet, slightly astringent. Lemon shells at the end. Tropical burps.
This is good, and well-priced, but my personal preferences are overriding that and comparing it to the much more interesting previous Glen Moray. If you want fruity and mature, I'd go for the (similarly priced) Mannochmore.
SMWS 9.107, Glen Grant, Intriguing adventures, 23 years old, 51.4% A⊕
16th November 1992, 216 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Masculine hand soap (charred oak, flowers and leather) with ozone and cut flowers and freshly cooked pasta. A touch of petrol. There's a gentle, slightly burnt, slightly toffeed, quite classy character to this. Very restrained, quite classical.
Body - A beautiful, gentle, tropical delivery. Thick, gentle mango juice backed by a little fresh mint leaf and cask funk.
Finish - Long, a little spice, more complex wood. Tannic at the end.
This took a while to get my head round after all that sugar and that gorda, but it was worth it. Classy and really drinkable although a little pricey.
SMWS 50.79, Bladnoch, Tickly, zesty and exotic, 25 years old, 49.4% A⊕+
28th May 1990, 114 bottles, refill bourbon.
Nose - Why is all Bladnoch 25 years old? Having spent the last 10 whiskies exploring good, young, first fill whisky, this definitely shows the 25 years on the nose. Wood well balanced with ripe melon and lemon curd, lemon sherbets – yet still masculine with leather and tobacco. With time, that melon becomes slightly more tropical, like pineapple with lemon juice. Even better with water, window putty and cloudy lemonade.
Body - Refreshers and sherbet dib-dabs, knocking on alien Islay - it's really weird when that happens in a non Islay (like that BBR Auchentoshan) and I'm guessing not everyone has my penchant for it but I do love that. I've certainly never had it in a Bladnoch before. That with the lemon is a lovely, refreshing but exotic combination.
Finish - Long and juicy, homemade lemonade with mint leaves and incompletely dissolved sugar. Tropical burps and a touch of cask funk.
Fascinating and endlessly drinkable. Totally fantastic. I'm flinching at the price but it's a very strong
SMWS 121.90, Arran, Spiced Pear Planter's Punch, 16 years old, 52.8% A⊕
31st July 1999, 258 bottles, refill bourbon. It's been too long!
Body - Deeply sweet, but fresh - like the Fino cask I was thinking of earlier. Slightly musky, with very thick double cream and poached pears. Even better with water, wine cask and Ryvita with marmalade.
Finish - Medium and almost clarty, one of the creamiest whiskies I've ever tasted. Quite winey too, wood structure, a touch of sulphur and heat, and so… much…. cream….
An extremely accomplished whisky.
SMWS 36.108, Benrinnes, Warms you from the inside out, 9 years old, 58.2% A⊕
16th March 2007, 486 bottles, 1st fill Oloroso butt
Nose - Warm, nutty and tickly on the nose, with chocolate covered raisins, petrol and overripe mango. With time, pineapple cubes, Gorda and granite, burnt, salted caramel with rosemary. I quite like this.
Body - Sweet, big and nutty, new leather and toast, but not over sherried at all. Some spice from the youth but it works well against the sherry. More toffee with water, good musk behind that with a touch of gunpowder and summer evening.
Finish - Medium, lots of leather and Oloroso.
A bit obvious at first but with time and patience it's quite the blockbuster. Recommended.
SMWS 30.93, Glenrothes, Tonka Bean Crème Brulee, 19 years old, 59.1% A+
17th April 1997, 786 bottles, refill gorda. This is a weird one.
Nose - Very refill! Window putty, mirror cake (thanks bakeoff), I'm guessing this rich, cakey, vanilla tone is the Tonka bean (which I've never tried, and should according to this). It's warm and inviting, but a bit weird. Hand cream with water.
Body - Overripe, dark and very fruity, like a fruit cake with white chocolate and apricots. And brutal tannins. Less of that brutality with water, I'm quite enjoying this red fruit, marker pen and cake thing.
Finish - Long, spicy with red wine cask by the shovel and liquorice root.
Well… this is a weird one. I'm really enjoying drinking it but it would take you an age to get through a bottle. As gordas go it's restrained on the nose but the opposite in the delivery. It is very, very wine cask. Is this full term or a finish? If it's a finish, what went into it in the first place?
BUY (but beware)
SMWS 66.89, Ardmore, Sea breezes over Lilliput, 12 years old, 59.6% A
17th November 2003, 168 bottles, first fill bourbon
Body - It's as you'd expect from the nose but a lot sweeter… oranges and preserved lemons against the Laphroaig-style peat, deep fried panko too.
Finish - Roasted lemons in the chicken pan, candy cigarettes and old bandages. That sweetness is cloying by the end though, too much first fill.
A solid but quite ordinary peater.
SMWS 10.95, Bunnahabhain, Smoky porky perky pokē, 10 years old, 59.8% A+
20th December 2005, 198 bottles, 2nd fill bourbon. The tasting panel's choice 2016! Terrible name.
Nose - Sweet medicinal peat, TCP and germolene, freshly cut ginger.. Really strikingly sweet sour, like a vinegar is in BBQ sauce (or like a gastrique). A really lovely, but young and confident whisky.
Body - Ordinary big peat at the start but then a jolt of cereal, like a fresh pilsner, with lemon sherbets and caraway.
Finish - Long with gin and lemon, malted barley.
An honest, interesting, but simple whisky.
SMWS 3.284, Bowmore, Salt and Smoke, 14 years old, 56.7% A⊕
8th May 2001, 186 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Very light. I see the name - salty and peated and seaweed and… there's more. A ripe but understated white fruit, almost cold milk, white wine, white flowers, Camel light tobacco. Quite a pure nose.
Body - A big whack of fresh sage, remarkable. It's almost like dried American hops, and the blessed start of old Bowmore in here - that's the second weird combo of alien Islay in this outturn. Just delicious.
Finish - More dried hops, grapefruit juice and refreshers. Preserved lemons at the end.
A remarkable whisky. Atypical but it all comes together in such a fascinating way, ideal for the jaded palate and one of the best whiskies in the outturn (despite the score).
SMWS 3.286, Bowmore, Islay village peat-smoke haze, 17 years old, 57.8% A+
Nose - Light again but more mineral with toast, lychee and S&V. Very light toffee and mature cask underneath the citrus peat, cut runner beans and malted barley.
Body - More standard peated Bowmore compared to the 3.284. S&V, preserved lemons again(!), baked apples and barley sugar. Fried whitebait.
Finish - Long and fresh, good cask-led fruits and spice.
It's a long way into this outturn and I think this is good but it's not remarkable for a society Bowmore. Still worth buying on an absolute basis but I've had a lot better here.
SMWS 29.186, Laphroaig, Spicy smoky seaweed salad, 16 years old, 56.1% A⊕+'
1st July 1999, 138 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Really interesting. Full of TCP, this is fresh, complex, rain soaked and elegant. Blonde wood and Sauternes against the TCP, like the Octomore Comus, but there's a real back-of-the-sinuses belt of swimming pool which takes the edge off once you know it's there (thanks Darren). Having said that, this is really, really good, really old school.
Body - One of the most TCP forward Laphroaigs I've had in a long time. Deep, bright, tropical TCP (that's a new one too), fresh bandages and pineapple. This is remarkable mainly because it actually tastes of TCP.
Finish - Long and dirty, medicinal with the beginnings of alien Islay.
Jeez… it's phenomenal.
19 is definitely my limit for detailed notes in one extended sitting! Thanks to Darren for being my assistant for the evening.