S

Scotch Malt Whisky Society – Triple Tasting

This post is really a follow-up to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society unboxing article from a while back. Essentially, these are the whiskies that I was sent as part of the welcome pack. In that context, these whiskies are an introduction to the SMWS‘s offer, and a statement of intent from them. I waffled on for far too long in that original post to actually taste those drams, but now I’ve finally cracked them open.

3.224 ‘Time for bed’ – Bowmore, 17 Years Old

Colour: old gold. On the nose: engine room; a lovely smokey industrial quality. Smokey, rather than peaty – the ashes of a BBQ. Cigars. Once you blow away the smoke there is some lovely medicinal stuff coming through. Caramel. Brine. Buttery shortbread.

In the mouth: oopmh, my word that’s a treat. The texture is rather lovely – not velvety, but flip it around your mouth and there’s such a nice weight to the liquid. The smoke has such an ingrained quality, in a way that reminds me of the Octomore range. This is an old fire at the end of the night. All the flavours are tightly packed and need a little teasing out: Lapsang Suchong, Christmas ham, strong orange marmalade. That brine is still noticeable as is the medicinal quality of the nose. Gosh, rather lovely!

35.89 ‘Spell-binding and breath-taking’ – Glen Moray, 17 Years Old

Colour: yellow gold, amber. On the nose: stewed apples, fudge, really nice mango note hiding behind the sweet front.

In the mouth: now that’s an autumnal dram. Baked apples, flapjacks, cinnamon, dark syrup, pumpkin pie, toasted almonds, all covered in cream. There’s a not-unpleasant metallic edge to it, perhaps brought up by the high strength, but this feels a little different.

9.77 ‘A distinguished gentleman’ – Glen Grant, 25 Years Old

Colour: old gold, wheat. On the nose: sweet pear juice, butterscotch, Werther’s original. Clotted cream. Lovely, but not the most forthcoming nose.

In the mouth: despite the strength there’s a wonderful mellowness about this. The flavours are so tightly packed together. Again pears, apples, cider vinegar. Summer chutney. Woody. A little vanilla perhaps. Very clean and dry. Quite a short, sharp finish despite the strength. Ever so charming and polite, and a nice dram to end the three.

If we were talking about the world of brands, part of what makes a good brand is consistency. Consistently delivering what you say you’re going to deliver, whatever that may be. It’s reliable. It’s just what you do. Well, I’ve had quite a few offerings from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society now to say that it is a great brand. You know what you’re going to get, and that’s consistently great whisky, delivered at high strength, right into your face. Given the amount of whisky I’ve tasted in the past year or so, it’s easy to spot a flaw, but there really isn’t much to criticise about the SMWS – other than the fact that my bank account is going to take a serious hit now I’m a member.

Categories
Mark

I've written about (and reviewed) whisky for Whisky Magazine and The Scottish Sporting Gazette among other publications. I do other writing too: several mass market genre novels, a few short stories, including for BBC Radio 4. For my day job (I know, I don't get out much) I work in digital content. Follow me on Instagram.com/maltreview/ or Twitter.com/MaltReview.

  1. Phillip says:

    I was seriously considering joining but with their prices so high and the fact that, as a newbie, I have so many to taste in the regular lineup, I have put it off for now.

    When my palate becomes jaded with the regular offerings it will be time to sign up and wave goodbye to monthly earnings 🙂

    1. Mark says:

      Hi Phillip. Well, the joining price is a bit steep, but you get some decent whiskies to start with. Once you’re in, the price is actually pretty good for bottles – and as whisky prices rise around the world, the SMWS represents stupidly good value. Something for everyone’s budget, if you see what I mean.

      1. Phillip says:

        Hi Mark, considering that I’m only at the beginning of my whisky journey and that I’m learning to distinguish the various smells and tastes (a bit of a struggle, what does sherry taste like? I can’t find a Kosher version, how much oak do you think I’ve eaten? etc.), I find myself focussed on exploring the regular public release whiskies from many of the well known brands (experiencing a bit of a love affair with HP12 and the A’Bunadh). At this stage I am spending an average of £34 a bottle wherein I have plenty to learn and explore. The average cost of SMWS whiskies are around the £90/£100 mark.

        It seems to me that most whisky enthusiasts start with the basics and work their way up the chain to the more exclusive whiskies as their palates develop. Make no mistake, the SMWS is certainly on the horizon, I just don’t want to skip my early education in the rush to ‘get there’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *