Review: Scotch Malt Whisky Society November 2012 Outturn
Another five-whisky month from the SMWS. Thoughts follow on each spirit in the outturn — easily the best month in recent memory for the SMWS.
SMWS Cask 16.32 – 10 year old Glenturret from the Highlands – Lightly smoky Highlands whisky finished in (refill) Port pipes? I never would have thought of the combination, but it works well here. The nose comes across as more sherry-like than Port, orange peel is heavy but it offers dark chocolate character, too. Some salty, briny notes on the palate quickly lead into lots of dried fruit — plus a big baking rack full of clove and cinnamon, pancakes with syrup, and Mexican coffee on the finish… the Port showing its face a bit in the end. Amazing depth and balance — much more than I would have thought possible from a 10 year old malt and surprisingly easy-drinking even at full cask strength. This is one whisky that brings everything together in a remarkable way, offering more and more with each sip. Wish I had more. Distilled 2001, 114.2 proof, 120 bottles allocated for U.S. A / $95
SMWS Cask 25.63 – 21 year old Rosebank from the Lowlands – Ultra-pale… who’d have thought this was 21 years old? It’s hard to follow 16.32, but this one does: Bright apple on the nose, with lots of citrus (Meyer lemons?) to back it up. Sugar and spice on the palate, a big rush of marshmallows and nougat, with touches of fresh black pepper, incense, and cedar box notes. The long finish is warming and lush. It’s hot stuff at nearly 60% alcohol, but drinks like a dream. Distilled 1990, 119.6 proof, 108 bottles allocated for U.S. A / $145
SMWS Cask 106.18 – 27 year old Cardhu from Speyside – Yet another winner. Gorgeous nose just from opening the bottle. Creamy orangesicles, heather, and marshmallow aromas lead to more of the same on the tongue, with plenty of citrus, tropical fruits, and a touch of sandalwood. Hints of grain flicker on and off in the finish. This Cardhu is simpler than the previous two whiskys, but still definitively worthwhile. Feels hotter than the 105 proof would indicate. Water is recommended. Distilled 1984, 105.2 proof, 78 bottles allocated for U.S. A- / $175
SMWS Cask 128.3 – 5 year old Penderyn from Wales – Quiet on the nose, with little hint of the sugar and fruit rush beneath. Take a sip and an explosion of flavors erupt — like a fruit salad filled with cherries, apple, oranges, and banana. Some cereal notes follow, with more dessert characteristics — pie crust and light toffee notes — on the finish. Lots going on, and a bit muddied. A few more years in cask might have brought the balance into focus. It’s a bit of an eye-opener for now. Distilled 2006, 122.6 proof, 78 bottles allocated for U.S. B+ / $85
SMWS Cask 129.1 – 5 year old Kilchoman from Islay – How exciting to get the first privately-bottled Kilchoman to sample! Modest smokiness on the nose, with citrus hints. Similar on the body to most other Kilchomans I’ve experienced — modest smokiness, backed with ample sugar. Worth a look if you want to try Kilchoman but can’t find the distillery bottling. Distilled 2006, 120.4 proof, 114 bottles allocated for U.S. B+ / $85