Tuesday, 8 August 2017

SMWS August 2017 outturn 2/2

The balance of the drams I can get my hands on from August.  I’m missing a few from this very large outturn – 3.302, 64.82, C3.2 and R8.3.  There’s a R9.2 somewhere too, not sure about that.  Anyway there’s so much here I’m not complaining about missing a few. 

Thanks to Chris for taking all these bottle shots!

SMWS 54.50, Aberlour, Expensive perfume on a fruity tart, 10 years old, 60.4% A+

21st April 2001, 197 bottles, refill bourbon

image001Nose - Light, fresh and clean. Nothing overdone, more mineral and wax than fruit, although there is a sweetened, chalky sweetshop note to this. Chewy meringues, a little acrylic paint, and a slightly sour berry feel. More floral with water, there's the perfume, and there's a more pronounced, creamy, almost lowland musky fruit.

Body - Really creamy in the delivery, rich and full of vanilla, and so much oil. Slightly floral, a little milk tart, a little spirity. Much improved with quite a lot of water, there's a zesty fruit - orange zest and cooking apple flesh.

Finish - Slightly hot and biscuity in the end, perhaps a French baked tart. Quite short though, with clean woods at the end.

A tired cask has, over a short period of time, had just a small, steadying hand on some excellent spirit here. This is a fresh and delicious drammer, bar and bottle.


SMWS 48.91, Balmenach, Sweet, juicy and perfumed, 10 years old, 60% A

28th February 2007, 145 bottles, refill bourbon

image002Nose - Slightly plainer, more one dimensional than the Aberlour, this has less wax and more fruit, but a very full sweetness, a much fresher cask. Marker pen, artificial strawberry and cut cherries.

Body - Very ripe and mouth filling, with fruit salad chews and twists of lemon peel. More bitter with water, balsa wood and I'm sure there's a lick of smoke in there.

Finish - Long and fruity, good structure from the cask and lots of sweetshop. Bitter at the end. Tannic with water.

In contrast, another excellent young spirit in a much fresher cask, this drinks like a first fill. Tasty stuff for the bar, but these young fresh casks are tiring for a bottle.

SMWS 36.133, Benrinnes, An irresistible experience, 19 years old, 55.2% A-

15th August 1997, 171 bottles, refill bourbon

image003Nose - Very gentle. Slightly stale milk chocolate (an old chocolate digestive) and a deep, understated sweetness, like smelling a cold wham bar. There's some mint in here too, and a little sauna wood. Fruitier and more complex with water, a touch of old cigarette tobacco.

Body - Biscuity, perfumed, very gentle, a very refill cask here again. Crunchy green apple and biscuity malt, and then a very fresh and vibrant squeeze of ripe orange, quite lip smacking.

Finish - Quite new makey - that malty twang - although that's not a flaw here. Short and citrussy, slightly spicy (chilli heat) and perhaps a little too sweet at the end.

An interesting experience, there's something really special in the nose but in the round this doesn't have the vitality of the Aberlour or the intensity of the Balmenach.

SMWS 64.93, Mannochmore, Tutti frutti spiced cream, 12 years old, 57% B+

26th May 2004, 227 bottles, first fill bourbon

image004Nose - Clean and white again, creamy but barely there. Vanilla cream, a little peach perhaps, roasted plums? More interesting with time, there's a slightly deeper sourness in here, some paint.

Body - As suspected, this has ice cream plus a gentle but jarring bitterness. Some lip gloss, even some pork crackling… it's growing on me. Richer with water, but still very white.

Finish - Short and biscuity, apple pips and pear skin. Unfermented wort.

Too pale, too ordinary. Not flawed, just not that exciting.

SMWS 96.11, Glendronach, Frisky fun, 10 years old, 57.6% A

8th June 2006, 210 bottles, refill bourbon

image005Nose - A confident citrus nose here, freshly squeezed orange juice, orange zest and a lovely clean spirit. Behind this, well balanced sweetness and lots of waxed wood, almost beeswax. Reminds me a little of apricot jam.

Body - Rich but fizzing in the sinuses. Clean, ripe orange again. Rich and delicious with water, with a slightly hot edge that detracts a little.

Finish - Young and zesty, quite long for it though with chewed orange peel and caraway seeds. Wood glue with water.

This is delicious and compelling, if a little simple.

SMWS 9.125, Glen Grant, Strolling in paradise, 13 years old, 60.9% A+

17th June 2003, 220 bottles, first fill bourbon

image006Nose - Peach and baked plums with raisins. A little petrol, some warm candle wax and fruity cask. Very professional. Slightly medicinal with water, a little younger feeling.

Body - Harder than I was expecting, big fruit and toffee but fizzing hardwoods and white grapes. Unchanged by water, you might as well add some as you get more whisky.

Finish - Quite long with intense, sweet woods. A balancing hand with grapefruit zest and icing sugar.

This is a sociable whisky. Delicious, robust, balanced but a real drammer.


SMWS 4.233, Highland Park, Asian-style barbecue, 11 years old, 64.2% A-

31st January 2006, 234 bottles, refill bourbon

image007Nose - Initial feeling is that this is a little young, a little hollow. The smoke here is uncharacteristically charred, but there's more depth in time. Cherry lip salve (quite faint), Pritt Stick and Marlboro.

Body - There's an incredible sense of Asian-style BBQ here! Very distinct sesame and hoisin sauced pork ribs. Bitterly peated, rich, malty tannins. A brown, rich, malty delivery, extremely umami and satisfying to sip.

Finish - Medium, a little bandage. Tannic and drying, like chewing a paper towel. Sichuan peppercorns at the end. Actually, then some berries.

Well… this is actually really compelling but it does so much so wrong I wouldn't want to have to work through a bottle. Definitely worth a dram at the bar though, probably an evening ender. Mind you, I haven't got to the paint stripper yet.

SMWS 41.94, Dailuaine, A small glass of happiness, 12 years old, 57.3% A⊕

25th August 2004, 216 bottles, virgin oak hogshead HTMC

image008Nose - I misrepresented, it's not paint stripper. Sweet as anything though, and as expected, hard oak and berries. Quite fresh orange zest (Christmassy here) with glacé cherries and Pimms.

Body - It's the full Christmas pudding actually, the raw batter as you set it aside for its overnight tempering before steaming. Full of oranges, and very warm and rounded - lots of VO character but no harshness. Absolutely delicious.

Finish - Medium and citrussy, like the finish from chewing on a sliver of orange zest. Rich cereal. Even more integrated with water.

Really delicious, but these casks just do my head in. VO is the great leveller, reducing all distilleries to the same "thing", even if that thing is unpredictable. I'm beginning to see why SMWS release so many of them.


SMWS 44.84, Craigellachie, Smooth edges, 13 years old, 56.6% A+'

27th June 2003, 221 bottles, virgin oak hogshead HTMC

image009Nose - Some sulphur in here immediately, this presumably spent some time in a sherry cask before the VO. Works well too, this is dried fruit - raisins and fig rolls - plus coffee and toast with marmalade. There's a really compelling richness here. Even better with water, more fruit. More damn oranges, and recently oiled, sanded oak.

Body - Hot, rich cereal, burnt fruit and chilli chocolate. Sherry or VO? This is on a knife edge. Thick cut marmalade, toothsome slices of peel. Rich fruit, toast and sulphur with water, and some clay.

Finish - Medium to short but that red chilli, black pepper and deeply sweet fruit is pretty exciting.

This is also really good. Damnit. Dirty though.



  1. Ben where's your new acronym - HTMC - coming from?

  2. Hi Unknown - yep Mourning Becomes is right. They've ALL been HTMC so I'm just writing that in case it changes one day.