This week SMWS are opening up the Vaults for various celebrations and you can buy a tasting pack to join in.
9th June 2004, 188 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Perfume (some musk) with a kind of latex, lacquered feel to it - a balloon and a greased tube. Also mineral and slightly austere - dried orange peel and cold granite.
Body - Beautifully clean and jewelled, exactly the kind of "young" (obviously it isn't that young) bourbon cask you can get into a bottle of. A good balance of sweet and mineral.
Finish - Clean, with bitter pith and long orange oils.
The austere nose gives way to a delicious young drinker. Very good.
5th March 2008, 218 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Waxy, medicinal cream, a lowlandery floral peachiness with quite hard minerals and brown sugar. Softer, warmer with water.
Body - Soft, really quite sweet and creamy again, gentle white fruit and milk bottle sweets. Richer and peachier with water, but a bitterness is building.
Finish - A fizzing bitterness against buttercream and royal icing. Very long sugars to the end.
Chuggable bar fodder, the cream and white fruits in the nose and initial delivery is quite classy and very satisfying to drink.
27th October 1995, 202 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Clear and shiny, elegantly fruited. Then some kind of spirity cardboard - light boiled sweets and a beguiling, sort of dirty musk. You need to dig but it's quite old school underneath the spirit.
Body - Sweet and perfumed, icing sugar sweet actually, with Nice biscuits and praline.
Finish - Medium and coldly, dustily sweet. Plasterboard and liquorice allsorts.
Far too sweet for me, the simple sugars riding all over the background mature spirit.
4th April 2011, 524 bottles, 5 years in ex-bourbon hogshead then second-fill toasted oak butt.
Nose - Sweet, simple and winey, with bourbon soaked raisins, chocolate brazils and caramelised orange slices.
Body - An excellently played big casking for a young whisky, this is one of the good ones, with bright, woodsy fruits, very red in character with strawberry laces and chewed liquorice root.
Finish - Medium, the wood against the sugars works. Water adds cake to the whole thing, but brings ringing tannins.
I really feared for this but the spirit works well with the big wood flavours. Fans of the Rocktown bourbons we had will love this.
27th November 2008, 1st fill bourbon
Nose - You won't be disappointed nosing this. Classic Islay, dirty and old school with that slightly plasticky weirdness Ardbeg has sometimes. It's musky, with burnt electronics and almost a drain on a hot summer day. In a good way :)
Body - Soft, then sour and sweetly peated with a bright herbal character - mint, rosemary. Water turns up the burnt peat and liquorice.
Finish - Short, with Kendal mint cake and Pret carrot cake.
This one is a proper cracker. It's been too long since I've had single cask Ardbeg.