It’s been a very long time since I was involved in a SMOS outturn, nearly three years ago and that was at a stood up, festival style tasting. There are some lovely whiskies in here, my picks are the Glenburgie and Glenrothes, and would have been the Glen Moray but that’s been, gone and sold out a while ago.
Cask #5012, refill hogshead (bourbon assumed)
Nose - Gentle, zesty, a little chalky with coffee undertones (maybe even talcum powder). Lightly waxy (birthday candles), cut oranges and posh apple juice. Chalky/waxy is more dominant than the citrus but this is beautifully fresh. Gentler fruit with water, a little milk chocolate.
Body - Lime curd and lemonade. Quite zippy neat, gunpowder or iron filings. Lemon zest with water, and lemon bonbons later on.
Finish - Medium to long, with satsuma skins and lots of oils (incense oils with water). Some bitterness with water and deodorant, black pepper at the end. Tropical burps.
A bright, zesty, quite hot but delicious whisky with lots of lemon. Good for bracing weather.
Cask #5134, first fill bourbon
Body - Delicious - ripe orchard fruit balanced by zesty spirit. Slightly woodier with water. Extremely drinkable.
Finish - Short but fruity, with peppery chalky notes and a touch of musk at the end. Flapjacks with water.
This is a real cracker (I am growing ever fonder of Glen Moray). You could spend all evening with this. Recommended.
Cask #9914, "hogshead" presumed refill bourbon, 275 bottles
Nose - It wants to be clean and fruity and big but it's a little more restrained and interesting than that. Very sweet at first with tart tatin, but then kind of herbal and earthy like a new bag of potting compost. Mexican hot chocolate holds things back with its hollow complexity. So sort of like an earth filled pastry with olives and apple slices. And deodorant. I like it!
Body - Sweet, but zesty, but slightly spicy and sour - kind of a Thai curry thing going on, curry leaves, fish sauce and lots of red chilli, and meaty with coconut milk. Wow, that's delicious. Slightly less interesting with water but a more drawn out development
Finish - Long with that sour fish sauce running through it, and lots of toffee. Really umami. Salty on the tip of the tongue and more coconut at the end.
Slightly palate crushing this one, but phenomenally rich and tasty. I am such a sucker for complex and slightly funky Asian flavours in Scotch and this is seriously pushing my buttons.
Cask #9057, "hogshead" presumed refill bourbon, 281 bottles
Nose - Sweet, toffeed with a milky, floral character. Baileys, Tippex and dried mango slices here, and a little milk tart. Seems tasty but a little simple. Cleaner and slightly more citrusy, and a little ozone with water.
Body - Aha much more interesting on the delivery, that musky, tropical richness I was hoping for with flecks of sulphur, spice and a rich backing of cream, cask and Wham bars. A little less good with water, that creamy, oily complexity was important.
Finish - Long and complete, the creamy note taking over from the fruit with the cask backing it all the way. Those milk bottle sweets at the end. Slight astringency with water, like liquorice root, but somehow much fruitier too. Tropical burps (of course!)
Super delicious this, all I could do to stop myself just drinking it.
Cask #3839, "hogshead" presumed refill bourbon, 237 bottles
Nose - Unexpectedly coastal and slightly peated, this noses quite like a gentle (but young) Bruichladdich. More interesting with time and after sipping, pastry and wood glue. Restrained sweetness, cut flower stalks, toffee pennies and granite, this is quite a hard-nosed whisky from a relatively inactive cask.
Body - But the delivery starts to promise really great things, I'm not sure this should have been pulled quite so “young”! Rich pastry, a dusting of refreshers, great cask and a sour, almost overripe fruit. Retronasally tropical with petrol and cough candy. Surprisingly minty with water, not sure where that came from.
Finish - The finish is classic mature refill Bruichladdich, tannic but sweet on the tip of the tongue, approaching fizzers with apples at the end. And mint bonbons.
Interesting, delicious in the delivery, and quite arresting, but not something I'd want a whole bottle of.
Cask #8172, refill "hogshead" presumed bourbon, 241 bottles
Nose - Flinty, creamy cereal (pinhead porridge with cream and whisky, my favourite holiday hotel breakfast), this is as honest and flawless as I'd expect, with each box ticked in a gentle and considered manner. Balanced, a little fizz, a gentle tropical Scotch, but very polite. Classier with water, the wood, the polish and the fruit step up another level.
Body - Green apple, apple pie, toffee and oils. There's something like chocolate liqueurs here - that weakly fruity and obviously boozy centre that coats your tongue - and coffee and cask round it out. Delicious, and very Glenrothes.
Finish - Very long, with tannins and ripe cut pear. Cleaner and more orchardy with water.
This is as good as I'd hoped. Highly recommended.
Cask #0602, bourbon barrel presumed refill, 165 bottles
Nose – Waxy and chocolatey, more damn apples, slightly more tropical than the Glenrothes, with a lovely hazelnut cask backing that hints at coastal, hints at peat but just feels like elegant, mature, waxy Scotch. It's lovely. 63.3% is very high for 28 and so hopes are high for water - which makes it fruitier and richer, but still elegant with more walnuts than hazelnuts.
Body - Nuts and apples, sour, rich, berries, herbal and tannic like a red wine cask. Slightly musky, spicy ethanol. A lot richer, a lot cakier with water, banana and walnut loaf.
Finish - Very long and very tasty, liquorice torpedoes and Sichuan peppercorns, quite meaty and lots of nuts and chocolate at the end. That walnut loaf is right through the end of it with water.
What a rich and delicious whisky.
Cask #100229, presumed refill bourbon, 344 bottles
Body - Soft but sour, like the afterglow of a big lambic beer, this brings the Asian funk of the Glenburgie but it's clearly older - older fruit, slightly lactic, really mouthfilling. Older, some sulphur, some tobacco with water.
Finish - Long with fruit tarts, fruit toffees and fruit chocolate. And Nutella.
You can't beat mature Bunnahabhain. There seems to be an endless supply of it with the indies, but this is a good one. Robust against the fruit, old but with real flavour, like I like them.
Cask #1030, "hogshead" presumed refill bourbon, 327 bottles. Lower the Ledaig trap!
Nose - Clean, cold and as sweet as a winter sunset on a beach in Kent. Cold white wine, salt and vinegar monster munch (which I don't think exist although may have once) and wet slate tiles. Sweeter and even more corny with water.
Body - Hot dogs, toast and charred peaches with lime, Chapulines and Cajeta. Actually the nose is quite goaty now you come to mention it…
Finish - Competition BBQ rub, really sweet with soft brown sugar and mace. Oily.
This is a superbly tasty Ledaig, not just a young bruiser but well matured and a great cask pick, the kind of thing that would be (rightly) gone by 9:30am at SMWS. Yet here it sits, still in stock…
Cask #900161, sherry butt, 564 bottles. "The third cask we have released from a parcel of sherry butts we have been nurturing for some years" - hopes are high.
Nose - Sweetly charred, gastrique and black cherries, cigar tobacco and blackcurrant jam. The fruit is so soft and succulent, the peat is so robust and in your face… but the blackcurrant jam and travel sweets makes it all better. More intense with water, liquorice imps and burning hashish.
Body - Ah… oddly young and slightly virgin oakey in the delivery, I am surprised at that. But it has that intense cigar tar and burnt coffee thing that makes me think of Octomore, and big, fruity tannins.
Finish - Pure sweet shop, haribo and big blue chewy dolphin sweets. Cola bottles and pineapple cubes.
This is a really intense whisky, much more of an Octomore than a Ledaig. So much tar and fruit, it's perhaps even more intense, and the kind of thing that would knock you sideways at a whisky festival.