Thursday, May 3, 2018

Scotch Malt Whisky Society Special

The line-up of SMWS bottlings.
For April's meeting of the Manchester Whisky Club we were in the hands of committee member Martin, who had been squirreling away bottles from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society for us over a period of months.

The drams.
Some club members were already part of the SMWS, but for the uninitiated it's a society which offers exclusive bottlings from distilleries right across Scotland, as well as access to various events and the club locations in Edinburgh and London. Basic membership is £65.

All of the bottlings produced by SMWS are given wacky names based on the tasting notes, and so it was that we began the evening by drinking an Alluring and Amusing - in reality a Tullibardine. Coming in at no less than 60.9% it was quite a way to get the night started, and a welcome one as we think it's the first Tullibardine we've ever had at the club.

Alluring and Amusing.
This was "sharp" and "gorgeous on the nose" with bits of pear drops and stewed apple. Perhaps in fact, we preferred the nose to the palate, which was particularly spicy. This held true even with the addition of a few drops of water, although this did open things up a bit. It's £48, although as with all SMWS bottlings it's members-only, unless of course you can pick one up on an auction site, where chances are you'd be paying a good deal more.

Big Boozy Trifle.
Big Boozy Trifle was next, an alias applied to a 15yo whisky from Cragganmore.

This was as peppery as the first dram was spicy, so dry and peppery in fact the mouthfeel was more like a savoury popping candy than a typical drink. Matured in first-fill French oak, and a weighty 56%, with other comments from the room comparing it to Rich Tea biscuits and having "a light bit of smoke" about it. It was £61.

The third whisky of the evening was perhaps inappropriately timed, as it's known as Winter Is Coming. Underneath the label it's a 10yo from Craigellachie in Speyside.

Winter Is Coming.
This one also packed a bit of a punch, at 59.3%. It was "sulphury" with a "sharp apple nose". This was a real livener of a drink, certainly interesting, although it probably divided the room a bit more than the previous two, which had admittedly both gone down very well. The general consensus was that this was still a good whisky, but maybe just lacking a bit of the quality of the earlier drams. It's £51.90.

There are plenty of sherry monsters in the club and we got to try a whisky of the same name after the mid-tasting break. They actually called one A Real Sherry Monster. This time, it's a 19yo from the Ben Nevis distillery.

A Real Sherry Monster.
"My God, that's a sherry monster and a half" was one of the early comments, suggesting there's no danger of the SMWS being hauled in front of anyone over the Trade Descriptions Act. The distillery has a reputation for going particularly well with sherry casks, Martin told us, and so maybe it was no surprise that this whisky proved popular with us. Huge on the nose, albeit with a slightly short palate, but at £75 this was quite the bargain for a bottle of Ben Nevis.

Dram number five was a bit of a mouthful - Peat Smoke, Pipe Ash and Pata Negra was the title (the latter means 'black hoof' in Spanish and is usually used to mean some kind of high quality pork product). At 53.2% this was, incredibly, the lowest ABV of the night, and it came from the Bowmore distillery on Islay.

Peat Smoke, Pipe Ash and Pata Negra
This was billed as "moving into the peat zone" and so we were, with a lot going on here. Comments included "superbly smoky" as well as "gorgeous" and "a lovely dram". At £70, this was considered another bargain.

And we stayed on Islay for the last dram of the evening, moving to Laphroaig for a bottle called Sailing Ship in Stormy Seas.

Sailing Ship in Stormy Seas.
This was an 18yo, heavily peated, clocking in at a mighty 60.9%. This left us with the taste of saltwater all over our lips, indeed it was "lip smacking". Frankly, you could tell it was the end of the night because that was all I actually managed to write down about it, but suffice to say we enjoyed this one very much too.

On to the dram of the night voting we went, and amid a great field it was a big win for number five, the Bowmore, which notched 11 votes.

Thank you to Martin for collecting such a fine array of SMWS bottlings, and of course thanks to the Society for producing them in the first place! Thanks also to everyone at the Britons Protection for hosting us once again and all the members and waiting list guests who came along.

No comments:

Post a Comment