This was the first outturn in November and went live October 28th. Unfortunately I was away that week and I wasn’t able to come in to write notes, so my month of being on the back-foot began.
Better late than never anyway, I hope that this is useful to you at the bar (buying bottles or drams) or later when considering auction bids*. For me it’s as useful as it always is, a written record of what I’ve tasted. Also I couldn’t resist adding a couple of these to my collection (7.152 and 35.168).
* actually because the whole outturn went “live” again last Friday some of these are back in stock on the website.
SMWS G8.7, Cambus, Caribbean banana fritters, 27 years old, 59.7% A⊕+
12th June 1989, 240 bottles, 2nd fill sauternes hogshead. "After 25 years in an ex-bourbon refill hogshead, we transferred this whisky directly into a Sauternes cask for the remainder of its maturation"
Nose - Parallel tracks of sweet, hard grain, and buttery croissant. The initial impression is of a really classy, intensely casked grain - sweet, but balanced with floral notes and the titular fried bananas. Oddly there's a note of ground, cooked beef (as you would for a cottage pie with leftovers) - one of those that you can't stop once you’ve smelled it. White chocolate on exhale. God it's good though. Even better with water, that meaty note blends better with the wood and vanilla, with chocolate tart at the end of the Sunday lunch.
Body - Intense wood, intense vanilla, very much like a bourbon. Banana milkshake, coconut ice cream, but milky hot chocolate with water. There's a touch of cat piss too, and something slightly fetid.
Finish - A wooden rollercoaster, that Sauternes cask is massively sweet in the finish, with an almost medicinal amount of wood. Bitter, almost cigar tobacco at the end, and numbing with water.
A big, bruiser of a grain, with a quite aggressive cask but very drinkable and that nose is just so mature and delicious.
SMWS 64.83, Mannochmore, Pink gin and green Chartreuse, 13 years old, 61.4% B
11th June 2003, 192 bottles, 1st fill bourbon
Nose - Initial impression is one of an OB - robust, well presented, balanced but quite young. Cadbury's chocolate, splints in the science classrooom, fresh potting compost and a really interesting sweetness and funk, like lime curd and Haribo… or something. Very interesting - quite a hot radiator note with time which makes it seem a little older. More complex, better integrated with water, and a good toffee sweetness with a touch of refreshers with lots of water.
Body - Sweet but sharp, big tannic oils and sour plums. Baked apples, perhaps a few raisins. More liquorice, less fun with water. Quite ordinary.
Finish - Short with liquorice root and bitter lime peel. Charred lemon shell with water.
A decent, interesting nose which develops nicely with water. An ordinary delivery that worsens with water.
SMWS 7.152, Longmorn, ‘Deeply absorbed but at ease’, 12 years old, 59.7% A⊕'
22nd September 2003, 162 bottles, 1st fill bourbon
Nose - On inhale, it's all classy OB Glenlivet, with dusty, yellow wood, cigarette tobacco and a honeyed backing. Damn there really is something totally classic in here - gentle toffee and leather. Light bonfires on exhale (not that it's peated). I would have had this down as a much, much older, weaker ABV OB. That really works for me. Give it time and water and it's even better, cigars now with beautifully integrated cask musk.
Body - I'm so pleased to report that it's just as classy on the delivery, with baked apple and fresh pear, warm white wine and oak chips. Refreshing, just, but loads of depth and well restrained.
Finish - Medium with black tea and toffee pennies (first input from the fresh bourbon cask). Sweeter but weaker with water. That charred wood is still lurking, not sure what that's all about.
A seriously delicious, classical drammer. Highly recommended
SMWS 7.153, Longmorn, Tea for Two, 11 years old, 60.5% A⊕
7th September 2004, 222 bottles, 1st fill bourbon
Nose - Slightly woodsier than the 152, more brown than yellow wood, but still fresh and vibrant with roasted apples and candy cigarettes. Lemon tart - vanilla, slightly citrus but quite rich, and good pastry. More fruit and pastry with water.
Body - Much, much less restrained, sharp and sour, much younger in the delivery - licked perfume, green apples, grapefruit. It is most definitely delicious, but it just isn't as elegant (by some distance) in the delivery. I can't stop sipping this though. Better with water, more glazed.
Finish - Long and quite bitter, but there's this really beautiful deep fruity cask behind there trying to get out (actually come to think of it there was a flash of it on first taste). More tobacco at the end (like your mouth a minute after a puff on a cigar).
A fruity, seriously delicious whisky that is unfortunately being shown up by its more elegant friend. I reckon Phil could make up a smutty joke about that but I'll have to defer to him…
SMWS 48.75, Balmenach, Strawberry Balsamic Tiramisu, 11 years old, 57.9% B⊕
29th March 2005, 210 bottles, 1st fill bourbon
Nose - Deeply sweet and fruity for a "young and spritely", with good structure (ozone, hard wood) backing up the fruit (marmalade, roasted plums). Mr. Whippy with strawberry sauce and chocolate flakes (that's a bit of a stretch - maybe if they made them slightly mocha). A lovely, sweet nose, perhaps even better with water.
Body - The initial delivery is juicy, rich, sweet and very fruity - absolutely delicious. The latter half is a bit a bit young and sharp, unripe pears and kiwi. Weirdly sour-er with water, like white tequila.
Finish - The youth shows through here, medium, young and spritely but there's still some richness and good tropical burps are keeping me going (obviously I can’t be sure if this whisky is the one providing them).
A solid whisky - fabulous nose and a decent delivery.
SMWS 41.80, Dailuaine, Classic – barley meets oak, 9 years old, 58.2% A-
14th July 2006, 540 bottles, 1st fill Oloroso butt
Nose - Young and sour, and slightly meaty, like distant fried burgers. This reminds me of a certain disappointing sherried vatted malt from a reputable independent bottler. Time to start digging… hard pear, raisins soaked in bourbon, peeled apple. All a bit obvious really. Better with water, more fruit.
Body - As expected… sour wood… but actually that does develop very nicely - marker pens, scented erasers, a striking sugar and cask balance. And then there's this neat Ribena fruit musk. Slightly medicinal with water.
Finish - Long, really long with really delicious, strawberry sweetness. And just a hand on the structural tiller from some sulphur.
I was really looking forward to being indignant about how rubbishly young this cask was but in the end, it was really interesting. I love the massive fruit and balancing wood in the delivery here. The nose under-promises, the palate over-delivers. Good advice, I think you'll agree.
BUY but only for the jaded
SMWS 39.137, Linkwood, Apple-Sour Cream Crumb Pie, 26 years old, 59.1% A⊕
30th April 1990, 210 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Tropical wax, slightly restrained. Toffee apples this time, maybe apple and blackcurrant crumble, if that's what a Crumb Pie is. The more time I spend with my nose in this glass, the better it becomes - it's definitely apple and blackcurrant pie, bramleys and custard. But that orchard fruit is balanced out by lovely, classic refill cask. What a surprise, the 26 year old Linkwood cask smells nice! It's better with water too, deeper everything - cask, fruit, oils.
Body - Very dry, apple wood and a grown-up sweetness, like slightly caught caramel. A touch of cut flower stalks, a little coffee. Sandalwood box with water, and a rebellious funk.
Finish - Long and numbing, licked wood and sawdust, quite an element of virgin oak about this one. Very long actually, wood oils and retronasal fruit. Cigar with water.
Cracking. Crushable, interesting, complex.
SMWS 9.112, Glen Grant, Aniseed Balls Tea, 20 years old, 61% A+
23rd April 1996, 216 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Honest, this one, but with the kind of vanishingly light chocolate, coffee and fence panel I would have associated with a very refill sherry cask. Slightly soapy, I kind of get the aniseed balls thing – there’s a little black grain in the middle of aniseed balls… it's like that on the nose. Fresh, mineral, ozone, and stewed black tea. Really light though. Better with water, a fruity funk, a touch of travel sweets, some crayons.
Body - Again, I would have said very refill sherry. There's a lot of sugar here but it's just behind the wood - and it's wood like you'd get on an old grain, i.e. tired cask but lots of years. Better with water again, apricot tart and marzipan.
Finish - Long, hard with deep pastry sweetness. The finish of a very young first fill bourbon. Much more complexity with water, and now really long. Lingers in the mouth with its oils like a mescal (not that there's any smoke). I should start this review again…
A+ is an average score, including it neat - good stuff in general but I would keep it at the bar.
SMWS 50.85, Bladnoch, Conversations with my son, 25 years old, 60.4% A⊕+
15th May 1990, 144 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - The world is awash with 25 year old Bladnoch, and it's classic laundry and apple stuff, with crisp bar towels and apples sweets, Edinburgh rock and hard, green, refrigerated apples. A freshly opened packet of camel lights. It's really classy, what a distillery. More intense with water (darker sugar).
Body - Another one that skirts across young and old… man! there is a really intensely, gloriously old streak of old library and mature cask in here, but the initial delivery is punchy with cheap Chardonnay and rolling tobacco. Intense oils on the tongue and a freshly sliced apple. There's 30+ year old fruit in here with water, what a whisky.
Finish - Long and full of toffeed fruit, burnt toast and honey and those oddly unpleasant strawberry tube sweets (in a good way). Very, very long with water, tannins and tea, birthday candles and buttercream icing.
A big, important, fruity and delicious whisky that keeps on giving minutes after sipping.
SMWS 35.168, Glen Moray, Essence of BFG, 15 years old, 60.4% A⊕
17th May 2001, 594 bottles, Virgin oak butt, heavy toast medium char. I presume this is a finish, a short one, and originally from a sherry butt.
Nose - Cigar tobacco, canned black cherry (that's the BFG in the title), polished parquet flooring (school hall) and meringue topping. It's quite abrupt though, fennel seeds close the door. Really groovy with water; bong water and blueberries.
Body - This whisky was definitely in a sherry butt originally, it's pure Amontillado in the delivery, with almonds and ham and fennel seeds, delicious drinking though (in that Gorda way I like and many don't) with quite insistent (but good) sulphur. The fruit and funk really sing with water though; dry, weird and beautiful.
Finish - Long and meaty with lots of ham and membrillo. Toffee pennies and kebabs (meat, pickled chilli) round it out. Oh - pencil cases at the very end!
I really, really enjoyed this, but I can see that you would have to be a sulphur skater to do so.
SMWS 36.115, Benrinnes, Let’s get the party started, 13 years old, 57% A⊕
23rd April 2003, 192 bottles, first fill bourbon
Nose - Ah… great, fresh, chalky society cask, clean and young but cask led with waxy fruits, polished leather and new cigars - just a hint of ground coffee beans behind it. Just delicious. More buttery with water, more feminine too.
Body - More deliciousness. Creamy, buttery and perfectly fruited, with unripe green apple, cut raisins and orange pith, all balanced by peppery wood. Even better with water, riper apple and a lovely retronasal complexity (waxes, cleaning products, new carpet).
Finish - Pure limoncello for a moment, then a long hot finish, with more black pepper and stewed tea. Even better with water. Toffee pennies and wax at the end.
This is seriously good. A fantastically balanced and confident whisky, lots of complex fruit, very grown up.
SMWS 46.44, Glenlossie, Life is but a dream, 23 years old, 53% B-
16th September 1992, 266 bottles, Virgin oak butt, heavy toast medium char.
Nose - Sweet, lovely old whisky, then Pritt stick and card. Every time - sweet fruit, envelopes. There's more to it, it's a bit otherworldly - but every time I get something sweet, I get some dissonant wood note that blocks it. Probably the least integrated nose I've ever smelled. That alone makes it fascinating.
Body - The insanity continues. Whose idea was this, it should have been in November 2! Sawdust and sanded varnish, bitter with chewed coffee beans and burnt toast, charred sausage. Young, peated whisky with water.
Finish - Long with instant gravy and stale coffee. Kalamata olives perhaps.
Let's say no more about it.
SMWS 3.290, Bowmore, In a shaman’s teepee, 17 years old, 58.6% A+
25th September 1998, 150 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Gentle - talcum powder and chalky bonbons. Seriously clean, all fresh towels and hand soap, the peat is buttery and slightly solventy, and there's ozone, wood fires and cleaning products. It reminds me of an evening on holiday somewhere hot.
Body - Complicated. Sweet, apple sweets, then more chalk and joss sticks, treacle tart and charcoal. Star fruit with water - tropical, young peat.
Finish - Really long, really complex. Quite hot. Christmas cake - especially the icing.
SMWS 29.198, Laphroaig, Seaside surprises, 16 years old, 59.3% A⊕+
1st July 1999, 228 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Musky; warm white wine, warm oak. Liquorice torpedoes and fur coat (yes I know that is ridiculous, but think how it smells when you stick your nose in and inhale). Really very personal, including the bandages. Amazingly, it's even better and even more musky with water.
Body - Deliciously complete and ripe, nutty (whole almonds in the shell) and fruity (roasted apples and cut peaches). More bandages and oak. Cloudy lemonade with water.
Finish - Charred, slightly rotten lemon shells and roasted chicken carcass. Numbing Sichuan peppercorns and heaven facing chillies. Juicy though.
This is a big one.
SMWS 10.100, Bunnahabhain, Pirate ships are burning, 9 years old, 61.6%
1st December 2006, 264 bottles, refill bourbon. These young peaters are always simple compared to an older Laphroaig, but good for it. Ideally you'd taste them with the other younger drams but you can hardly follow this with 23 year old Glenlossie.
Nose - Pastry sweet, but coastal with charred wood. Slightly fetid, like yesterday's bonfire after it rained overnight, but a fresh, grapey sweetness is a lovely offset to that. A little bit beery. More "fried" with water, and some Kalamata olives.
Body - Sweet TCP, old plasters and milky tea. A really attractive delivery - malty sweetness, lemon and coastal, charred wood in great balance. Very, very drinkable. Even more mouthfilling with water.
Finish - Quite short, clean like a chilled white wine. Lots of tannins.
Sweet but robust, great balance and perfectly integrated. Simple SMWS perfection, get a dram if you still can.