Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa’s here, and he wants to give you whisky. As Christmas approaches, the SMWS is offering this year-end parcel, chock full of goodies. Thoughts follow.
SMWS Cask 27.97 – 13 year old Springbank from Campbeltown – Amazing color, amazing nose, amazing everything. It’s hard to go wrong with Springbank, this one bottled from a refill gorda. Lightly nutty/marzipan on the nose, then an explosion of flavors on the tongue. Creamy sherry notes, orange peel, and buttered toast on the palate. Long, long finish with a hint of smoke — but not overly hot despite an alcohol level over 57%. Do not pass up if you’re a Springbank fan. This outturn’s “President’s Choice.” Distilled 1998, 115.2 proof, 180 bottles allocated for U.S. A / $110
SMWS Cask 9.62 – 8 year old Glen Grant from Speyside – Young and a bit brash, but worthwhile. Classic Speyside, with big nougat character, some coconut and banana, fired with coal smoke. Touches of toffee on the finish, leading to a lingering and smoldering finale. Not overly complex, but a solid, young spirit. Distilled 2002, 124.2 proof, 149 bottles allocated for U.S. B+ / $85
SMWS Cask 42.10 – 7 year old Ledaig from the Highlands – Traditional Highlands malt, but very young, and very, very hot. Not really a thrill without water, which brings out notes of heather, orange, and fresh-cut grains, plus touches of cedar box, leather,tar, and light matchstick smoke. Nothing unexpected though. A fairly simple dram. Distilled 2005, 125.4 proof, 60 bottles allocated for U.S. A- / $175
SMWS Cask G2.2 – 35 year old grain whisky from Carsebridge in Clackmannanshire (Lowlands) – Carsebridge was shuttered in 1983 and torn down in 1992, making this some of the last stock from this distillery available. Unique and a bit strange, it’s all over the map. My notes run from sea brine to tar sands, cigar smoke and sour cherries. That probably doesn’t help you, I realize, but SMWS’s tasting notes are equally cryptic: school art-room, leather dancing pumps, and “newly crafted coffin.” Lots going on here, and certainly something you can talk about at length… but, typical of single grain whiskys, it’s pretty well off the beaten path for Scotch, for better or for worse. Distilled 1976, 107.2 proof, 60 bottles allocated for U.S. B+ / $250
SMWS Cask 29.104 – 20 year old Laphroaig from Islay – Dark color for Islay, but 20 years in cask will do that for you. Classic older Islay (bottled from a refill Sherry butt), with its peat finally mellowed out like a fire on its last legs. An easy sweetness draws instant comparisons to Laphroaig 18, loads of molasses impregnated with saltwater and seaweed. Some apple undertones, with slight touches of lemon. This doesn’t add a lot to the Laphroaig heritage, but it’s worthwhile if you find yourself wanting to put the 18- and 25-year-old distillery bottlings up against something slightly different. Distilled 1990, 116.4 proof, 120 bottles allocated for U.S. A- / $140