I don’t think I’ve ever written about a private tasting I attended (or hosted for that matter). It’s just that those evenings are purely fun and I don’t want to have to jot down impressions or tasting notes, however short they may be. I finally decided to make an exception for an epic Scotch Malt Whisky Society tasting I took part in this past Saturday.
Every once in a while, maybe a couple of times a year, one of my whisky buddies decides to crack open a bunch of awesome whiskies for a private tasting with a group of friends. We all contribute what basically amounts to cost price of the whisky, so that we can enjoy 8 to 10 (often incredible) whiskies during one evening.
We’ve done this a couple of times now with an Inchgower tasting, hosted by Sebastiaan or Mr. Inchgower, as he is better known to us. I myself once opened a bunch a old Benromach (pre-1983) for a nice vertical. And while the whisky is always good to great, the best about these evenings is just the camaraderie and companionship of like-minded people.
I also want to give a quick shout-out to Robin too. He’s the third-generation owner of a wonderful specialist shop in the East of The Netherlands. It’s called Slijterij Berendsen (or Het Whisky Huis) and it also features a wonderful tasting room. He has been kind enough to let us use his venue for these tastings, which certainly enhances the experience.
Let’s get on with it…
Anyway, enough with the pre-amble now. Let’s get to the interesting part, the actual Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) tasting. This one was hosted by Ruud, of Whisky Club Ypenburg fame. He had selected ten whiskies from the SMWS, ranging from 9 to 36 years in age, with an average maturation time of 23 years!
In the spirit of the SMWS, we tasted all whiskies blind. The SMWS is basically an independent bottler focusing on highlighting the aromas and flavours of single cask whisky. To accomplish this they use a basic numerical system to label their bottles. Each number correspondents with a distillery.
For instance, distillery number one is Glenfarclas. So if the SMWS labels a whisky 1.31, it means that this is the 31st cask they’ve bottled from Glenfarclas. They always give a weird name to their whiskies (you’ll find some examples below) and include outrageous tasting notes on the label. I guess it makes them stand apart.
It’s has been a while since a attended a blind tasting, but it was a blast. We tried some surprising(ly good) whisky from some unusual suspects. I even managed to make some notes on most of them. Now don’t take these notes (and ratings) too seriously, as they were made in far from ideal circumstances. You’ll probably notice they’ll get shorter and hold less detail once the tasting progresses. But they sure as hell give an indication of how I experienced the whiskies on that particular evening.
Okay, here we go!
Glenrothes 24yo 30.92 ‘Brighten Up Your Day’ (46,7%, refill bourbon barrel)
Creamy and floral at first with a hint of vinegar, but then more vanilla and banana. The palate is spicier than I expected. An okay start. – 81 points
Butter, oranges, some caramel and marzipan, but also straw. The palate is spicy (ginger, pepper) with sweet cereals and oranges. – 87 points
Strathclyde 36yo G10.8 ‘Lashings Of Loveliness’ (58,0%, refill bourbon barrel)
Lots of glue, finally some fudge, caramel and oranges. Like I find with most grain whiskies, this was fine but too one-dimensional and similar to others. – 84 points
Linkwood 26yo 39.135 ‘Magical And Heavenly’ (58.8%, refill bourbon hogshead)
Okay, so here I was probably distracted by Norbert, who was sitting next to me and never shuts up. All I have written down on this is ‘exotic fruits’ and a quick score. It was good though! – 87 points.
Cragganmore 28yo 37.77 ‘Myths And Legends’ (57,2%, refill bourbon hogshead)
My favourite of the night. No tasting notes. Just fucking good is what this is. – 91 points
Dailuaine 9yo 41.83 ‘Sherry, Sherry Baby’ (58,7%, first fill Oloroso butt)
Glen Moray 14yo 35.155 ‘Cello, not Piccolo’ (58,8%, second fill Oloroso butt)
Classic and mature, this tastes a lot older than it actually is. Up there with a good single cask Glendronach. – 89 points
Laphroaig 18yo 29.204 ‘A Day At The Beach’ (53,6%, refill bourbon barrel)
Peat, bacon, wet rocks. Some lemon and vanilla. Wood smoke. Fine peated whisky, although nothing exceptional. – 86 points
Bowmore 18yo 3.270 ‘Surf ‘n Turf In A Camel’s Saddle Bag’ (55,8%, refill sherry butt)
Sherry and modern Bowmore at its best. Dirty, sulphured and mildly peated. – 90 points
What a great evening this was once again! It turned out to be one big advert for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Boy, they have some good casks in stock. I recently ordered a big set of SMWS-samples (before this tasting took place). Very much looking forward to go through those.
Thanks to everybody (except for Norbert of course 😉 ) for the awesome evening, especially to Ruud for putting it all together!