Almost two decades ago I tried to give up smoking using Nicorette patches. They gave you a wall chart and you stuck a little sticker on every day you didn’t smoke a fag. This chaining motivates you to keep on going. The big problem is if you do relapse – and miss a sticker – that crutch is taken from you right when you need it the most*.
Here’s the November 2017 small list, there are 45 more or so coming next week and there’s some epic stuff in there! Sorry this one is late, hope you got what you wanted. Get used to it being late as I will be missing the November big list entirely – the first outturn I’ve missed in over three years. Phil will be able to sort you out I expect, at least with some of it.
I was going to put the 53 and 37 in their own post as they were released between October and November and so I hadn’t tried them until now. But why bother if I’m going to miss an outturn? So they’re just in among this lot.
There’s one serious stand out here. I’ve just bought two bottles of it, considering a third.
SMWS 54.53, Aberlour, Classic honey and oak, 10 years old, 60.7% A-
12th October 2006, 195 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - A mineral, slightly chalky sweetness. Really cold and fresh with waxed woods, proper autumn stuff. A touch of shoe polish, and a little baked apple behind the wax. Good balance and restraint. Fruitier with water, greener apple and added gloss paint and Danish pastry.
Body - Sharp and hard, with a slightly obvious sweetness behind it. Some peppery wood, some candy cigarette. Actual tobacco with water, more wood and a touch of petrol. Definitely better.
Finish - Long with cloying boiled sweets and a lightly fizzing like sherbet lemons at the end. Drying with water.
A robust whisky for winter Autumn afternoons, I really enjoy the nose but it's a little one dimensional on the delivery.
SMWS 41.98, Dailuaine, La Dolce Vita, 11 years old, 59.2% A-
23rd March 2006, 204 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Dependable Dailuaine. The usual elegance - hard toffee with sawdust, polished wood, gentle, expensive perfume and warm, ripe orchard fruit. Very sweet and special with water, slightly medicinal like a big, woodsy rum and also very reminiscent of smelling a really foamy glass of cloudy lemonade.
Body - Warm, ripe stone fruit, then a bit hit of chilli spice and bracingly sweet. Chocolate cake with water.
Finish – Serious chocolate cake richness, with chewed pencil, buttercream icing and a little cracked black pepper. Very long with water, extremely rich.
This started up all elegance and ended up with chocolate cake, absolutely delicious although if you're going to do that I think even Dailuaine needs a few more years on it.
SMWS 9.131, Glen Grant, A cheery treat, 11 years old, 55.1% A⊕
15th September 2005, 162 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Serious wax, again, for such youth, but gentle and slightly louche. Fresh towels and slightly musky (hair wax and old tobacco). It's a lovely thing. After sipping, I'm overwhelmed by sesame on the nose. A surprising belt of cherry sweets with water.
Body - Beautiful again, really considered with Mexican chocolate, almonds and cold glass. Even better with water, tannins, wax and fruit in perfect balance.
Finish - Sesame snaps, Hershey's chocolate and fence panels. Quite salty. Very dry with water.
Absolutely delicious, a masterclass in how young refill bourbon can be just as good as old and expensive.
SMWS 100.17, Strathmill, Fresh as a glacial facial, 12 years old, 57.8% A
23rd February 2005, 157 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Beautiful and clean again, touch of chalky, minty bonbons and ripe with pear and Sangria. There's a real depth here, with liquorice allsorts’ centres, strawberry laces and a touch of cigar tobacco. More boiled sweets with water, more complicated tobacco leaf and fruit.
Body - Liquorice torpedoes, really thick and milky. Thinner and more tannic with water, it has a peppery, toffee character which is structural and drinkable but slightly hollow.
Finish - Quite a lot of heat in the finish, chilli toffee and hot, cinnamon chocolate. Big cereal tannins at the end brings you back for another.
Very tasty, the sort of cinnamon fireball character is good although not quite what I'm after. However this is very nicely put together.
SMWS 36.138, Benrinnes, Fruit baskets in a painted room, 19 years old, 56.1% A⊕+
15th August 1997, 174 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Bright but rich, solventy but with tropical fruit juice and old school permanent markers (in the 80s they were superb). Real age on this nose though, Benrinnes is a byword for tropical and this is definitely that, plus sauna wood and buffed leather.
Body - And it doesn't disappoint - it would be exaggerating to suggest this was 70s Tomatin level awesome, but it is a pretty good stand-in. It has that robust, almost peppery, almost overripe weirdness to it that goes with the tropical fruit like the smell of Durian and hoisin sauce goes with an Asian supermarket. It tastes even older with water, it has fusty old anise baked into a sweet bread
Finish - Highly polished, dark antique French polish, bone dry and full of old tropicality. Drier and shorter with water, like 40 year old whisky is sometimes.
How is this only 19? A frankly fantastic whisky and an absolute bargain, amazingly it is extremely still in stock too. 51 left!
BUY BUY BUY
SMWS 1.204, Glenfarclas, Blackberry lemon pavlova, 20 years old, 53.5% C⊕
5th March 1997, 233 bottles, 18 years in ex-bourbon hogshead, then into first-fill American oak PX hogshead
Body - What…? HP sauce, cigar tobacco, very clearly chipotle chillis and ancho - what did that PX cask have in it before, chipotle chilli sauce? Better with water, but still very weird.
Finish - Long, savoury, spicy. Very bready, very peppery, a very compelling wood, cereal and sour thing raging underneath that awkward sherry finish.
This is a flawed whisky with a hopeful two year finish in PX to cover it up. It kind of works (it's certainly interesting), you should try it at the bar, but you don't need a bottle.
SMWS 39.151, Linkwood, A blue lady and a Seraph's smile, 19 years old, 58.4% B+
27th October 1997, 592 bottles, ex-oloroso butt, then into 1st fill sherry butt. Why finish a sherry butt in a sherry butt? I need to know what it was like before!
Nose - Sweet, restrained, quite hard and metallic. But rich PX underneath, I guess the original sherry was very refill - this is not necessarily bad news though. Deodorant and candy necklace? With time, whiteboard markers and smouldering splints. And something medicinal, like something from the dentist's tray of stuff you can't quite see because you’re laying on your back. And wax. Fruitier with water, with men's Sure deodorant - rather good really, and the wax is more dominant.
Body - Blackcurrant chews, coal, smoking wood, tar, dank sherry cask basically. Much softer and riper with water, suddenly almost over the hill.
Finish - Tannic, soft and ripe. Lots of blackberries at the end.
Another awkward finish, again it's totally drinkable and interesting and this time, not flawed, but it's not quite there.
SMWS 35.189, Glen Moray, Spiced fruit on a treacle tart, 15 years old, 57.7% A-
27th November 2001, 246 bottles, 14 years in first-fill bourbon, then into first-fill American oak PX hogshead. Some big colour on these PX casks.
Nose - Similar to before, the PX is quite a blanket and I'll need to dig. Red cherries and hard wood, kind of VO. Raspberry jam in a big rich sponge cake, buttercream icing. Yet there's proper depth here, a much more successful finish I suspect.
Body - Hard and very wood driven. Last month there was a labelling error on the 35 - port instead of new wood French oak - I wouldn't be hugely surprised to find this has had some new oak in its history but I believe the PX. This has incredible richness but the wood sour is just as big, with leatherette, licked perfume and cherry sweets.
Finish - Long and very hard with lots of wood. That's the kind of tasting note my work colleagues enjoying mocking me for, so I am pleased to be able to supply it again here.
There is a really good whisky in here (particularly the nose) but the delivery has a little too much new wood in it for me. Still - it's full of fruit (particularly cherry) and very intense and quite delicious. Definitely one for the bar, probably a bottle if you are into such intensity at home. It is very, very sweet and rich.
SMWS 37.97, Cragganmore, Old and delightful, yet firm, 32 years old, 49.6%A⊕
24th April 1985, 168 bottles, first fill PX hogshead
Nose - Immediately it's that black vinegar, bright, deep overripe fruit thing, with very dark wood, a touch of coffee, wet joss stick and something from art lessons - plasticine? Pipe cleaners? Cigars and nuts on exhale.
Body - Very gentle, very old. Lots of soft stone fruit with blackcurrant jam on toast, a little silly putty and big, old oak.
Finish - Long and richly wooded with varnished Refreshers. Straying into cheesy with licked joss sticks and black pepper.
This is exactly as it says on the label - very mature, classic old Scotch with lots of structure and just enough challenge in the sour woods.
SMWS 72.51, Miltonduff, Pepper-crusted charred roast beef, 12 years old, 60% B⊕+
23rd September 2004, 252 bottles, 11 years in first fill white wine hogshead, then into virgin oak hogshead HTMC. Hopes are very high.
Nose - I would have loved to have tried this before the VO but I'm still keen from the white wine primary - this has all you'd want on the nose, dank, sulphurous (but well done) with roast beef, earth, plaster of paris and royal icing. It lives or dies by the delivery though.
Body - Nutty, dirty, full of sulphur but just pulling it right. Pistachios, drains, standing water and overripe fruit. More tobacco with water, but amazingly it's even dirtier.
Finish - Petrol and pistachio with Vimto. Hazelnuts and a litter tray with water.
Weird, wonderful and naughty.
BUY but goodness me only if you like it funky. I'm considering it.
SMWS 4.237, Highland Park, Essence of Orkney, 26 years old, 51.9% A+
31st May 1991, 233 bottles, 24 years in refill bourbon, then into first-fill American oak PX hogshead
Nose - There's that toffee, sweet but dry, coastal but sherried complexity that everyone falls in love with first with HP. Back to the chalk of the first dram, and floral too - elegance plus peat and sherry makes gravitas.
Body - Gentle, dry then surprisingly charred and fizzing, almost parmas - black pepper and chewing the end of a pencil that has an eraser on it - slightly metallic. More cereal led with water, still robustly peppery though.
Finish - Coffee and fizzers. Chewed flower stalks with water. The charred, wet oak comes back at the end.
A rich, complex and beautiful nose. This should have been more luxurious though, given the age and the nose. There's a "burning boat on the beach" thing that I really like in the delivery but this should have been more.
SMWS 10.134, Bunnahabhain, Cleaner than a ship's whistle, 9 years old, 60% A+
7th February 2008, 240 bottles, refill bourbon.
Nose - A particularly good chalk and sweetshop note here, above the usual coastal, sandy fun. The peat is ever so slightly young Laphroaig, slightly bandage, but the refreshers and beachgrass is really evocative. Waxier, caskier with water.
Body - Cough! Robustly peated with a real sweetshop intensity, right up to liquorice imps. Water brings Chinese jelly sweets and cinnamon stick.
Finish - Long and full of dark liquorice and parkin. Rolling tobacco on the tongue, black sesame. It's really thick, much blacker than recent 10s.
This is a crazed bottle of whisky, very challenging and absolutely mesmerising.
SMWS 29.232, Laphroaig, Seaside sweet shop on fire, 18 years old, 59.1% A+'
11th November 1998, 240 bottles, refill bourbon
Body - Surprisingly intense, fizzing and woodsy on the tip of the tongue with Sudocrem and talcum powder. Lots of cream, big, bitter wood and a full bong full of bong water.
Finish - Proper deodorant here, sprayed in the mouth. Dark and slightly disturbing with water, the wood, char and Victorian hospital is very dominant. Chloraseptic by the end.
An evasive whisky with a surprising amount of wood for a Laph. It draws you in on the nose each time, and knocks you out with the smoke and wood. I adore the refreshers in the nose.
SMWS 53.241, Caol Ila, Dense smoke over a tarry deck, 6 years old, xx? B+
27th April 2011, xx bottles, refill bourbon
Body - Tar, ropes, phenols.
Finish - Long and bitter, under-ripe green apples. Something beery in the end here.
Time for a beer.