Terribly late for June, I hadn’t even cleared the decks from May before it was out. In my defence they put a 3 day malts festival and half term in exactly the wrong place for me to get to June in time.
So here’s the remnants of May. There’s a few “extra” bottles that weren’t in the outturn but were on the bar (and are mainly still on the site). Plus a few bottles that had sold out in the main May outturn before I got to them. Just for completeness sake, I know the moment has passed…
BAR EXTRAS FOR MAY
SMWS 64.89, Mannochmore, School desks and sweeties, 9 years old, 58.2% A+
25th October 2006, 246 bottles, first fill bourbon
Body - Very sweet with more putty (more like window putty now), milk chocolate and a touch of charred chilli.
Finish - Medium, quite hot with malt, papaya and cork.
A proper, young, bourbon cask society drammer. Bar and bottle.
SMWS 37.71, Cragganmore, Angels' delight, 14 years old, 55.2% A+
15th May 2001, 269 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Fruity boiled sweets, hard and clean, floral and clay led. A great young spirit led nose tempered well by an honest cask - pink wafer biscuits and flaking gloss paint. Fruitier, even more honest with water, a lot more vanilla.
Body - More perfectly poised firewater, a balance of sweet, mineral and wood. Milk chocolate and rice paper with water, just a little bit too saccharin.
Finish - Medium with intense fruit juice and more sweetshop. Cragganmore make some cracking spirit.
This is really, really drinkable and life affirming stuff, and much better neat than watered.
SMWS 73.78, Aultmore, Zingy, effervescent and intriguing, 14 years old, 57.6% B+
24th September 2001, 528 bottles, refill bourbon butt
Nose - Sweet and sour, clarty waxes, a sherbet dibdabs dibber, Refreshers and strangely Christmassy (women's perfume, fur coats and leather gloves). It's very perfumed and quite exotic smelling. Fruitier with water, with old leather jackets.
Body - Hot and young, with red apple, shower gel and an intense sweetness that calls to mind first fill bourbon more than the nose does. Better presented with water but more refreshers and definitely odder
Finish - Fizzing and slightly chemical, over sweetened with more of that strange perfume at the end.
An obvious and artificial delivery on top of a rather interesting but slightly over the top nose.
SMWS 46.45, Glenlossie, A two-way street, 23 years old, 52.7% A⊕+
17th November 1992, 240 bottles, refill bourbon
Body - Fruity as expected but with real structure and warming wood spices. Slightly numbing wood oils and a burning tropicality. Much more OB, very drinkable but less exciting with water.
Finish - Long with balanced wood, roasted plums and a touch of charred pork fat.
This is seriously good, with a character way beyond 23 and loads of balance and fruit. Highly recommended.
SMWS 7.128, Longmorn, A sonata of sapidity, 30 years old, 54% A⊕
24th September 1985, 72 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Deep, coffee and biscuity wood, a more expensive men's perfume and at first glance this might have been over the hill… but behind this is that really old Longmorn depth - a burnished, overripe pear and perfume, chalky and slightly alien, like you might get in a very posh perfumier's shop in France (I am dredging a memory there from childhood holidays rather than recent events). Fruitier with water, and richer. Phenomenal, but according to the title it should all be in the delivery.
Body - A first, as expected, with intense wood oils balancing old fruits… But there is a hollowness in the wood and a cheaper hand cream I didn't want to mention in the nose, and perhaps a heavy hand with the spice. Rescued a little with water.
Finish - Very long, a slightly sour fruit that you often get with ancient casks and recently cut old oak and wood glue.
Perhaps this is over the hill after all, too much wood in the delivery and it doesn't quite deliver on the promise made by the nose. Don't get me wrong, an absolutely excellent whisky, but my expectations were very high.
SOLD OUT BOTTLES FROM MAY
SMWS 121.98, Arran, Sweet, succulent and dark, 16 years old, 55.4% B⊕
20th April 2000, 266 bottles, After 14 years in ex-bourbon wood, we put this into a first-fill French oak hogshead.
Nose - Cut oak blocks, varnish… hard to get under the virgin oak. Why would you do that to an Arran? I think I can detect some marzipan, some gloss paint? Better with water, mind you they always are with time anyway, once the shock subsides. Maybe I'm just getting more of the Arran - waxes, wood, fruit.
Body - Better than the nose, the marzipan is definitely here and that bright, green fruit that VO can bring is working well with the Arran. The spirit is undeniably delicious to drink.
Finish - Herbal, green, melon rinds and cigarette tar. Slightly mucky with water.
It's not done the Arran many favours, although I did enjoy drinking it in the end (the delivery is a lot better than the nose). John once told me off for searching for distillery character when the numbering system was supposed to remove that bias. I'm not sure it applies to blasting poor old refill bourbon casks with new oak though.
SMWS 36.129, Benrinnes, Sweetmeats in a Bedouin tent, 14 years old, 57.2% B
14th August 2002, 196 bottles, After 14 years in a first-fill bourbon barrel we transferred this to a first fill charred ex-red wine hogshead.
Nose - I never know whether to expect new oak or red wine with these things, although I'm always hoping for the wine. This has that varnish and hard wood from the recharring but it's much softer and there is a great balance between Benrinnes fruit and cream, and the wood structure. There is something very special in here. I can't smell any wine cask though.
Body - Spicy, honeyed, flashes of interesting cask, very sweet and creamy but quite a hollow richness.
Finish - Medium with too much wood, intense sugars and echoes of fruit.
SMWS 3.264, Bowmore, Bus garage by the machair, 19 years old, 58.2% A⊕
27th March 1996, 252 bottles, refill bourbon. Holy cow I'm looking forward to this…
Nose - Gentle, complex, floral and mineral. Ripe, warm, cut pears. Petrol, pot pourri and new knitting. The wax is subtle and quite hard to put my finger on (as an expert rememberer of different waxes I am tempted to go with a garden wax flare the morning after a BBQ competition, just to amuse or annoy). Yellow fruit with water, absolutely delicious but with gunpowder on exhale.
Body - Explosive flavour. Burnt Chinese stir fry (chilli, ginger, garlic, Sechuan peppercorns) but really dirty too - not sulphur, it's fetid cereal, and not in a bad way. The new make must have been rank but that's what makes such unreal mature peated whisky. Repeated sips become even less rooted in reality, and I am reminded about how good 26 year old Bowmore is. Dustier but less special with water.
Finish - Long and dirty, charred lime shells and unreasonable tannins.
A big, big whisky.