The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is back on the menu at MALT. We had drifted away given the sheer number of independent bottlings from various companies. Then there was the epic bank blitz of the Cadenhead’s 175th Anniversary programme. Like you, we’ve still got the scars to show for the 12 month ordeal. What memories and whiskies though eh?
There’s no denying that the SMWS is very successful at what it does and we’ve already tackled the thoughts of many regulars and onlookers last October with SMWS Versus The Critics. If you haven’t read that piece then I suggest you do so first. 2018 marks the 35th Anniversary of the Society and for its role, past and present, with its influence expanding into new territories. It seemed a shame that our coverage of late was pretty much zero and we have a duty here to you to cover as much whisky as we can whilst being honest and candid.
Armed with this knowledge, plus encouragement from Ben (@singlemaltalliance) who is involved with the SMWS American branch and the temptation of a good deal to renew. I cast aside memories of late nights in the Society bar and impersonations. Took the plunge and re-joined for £99. This renewal also included a free bottle which forms the basis of this review. Part of the appeal was the fact that it’s from Longmorn. A distillery that produces a worthwhile whisky and remains relatively overlooked unless you’re a Chivas representative looking to re-plaster it and bump the price up. Epic fail.
The independent realm is hugely competitive. Price and value go hand in hand alongside offering something more tangible. As a Society member, you feel part of a larger club and collective. A group that each month will have the option to purchase – if you’re quick enough – a selection of single malts at cask strength. Agreed, the outturns of late arguably lack the panache of previous years and you can debate whether a lack of investment until recently and too much of a good thing were main factors? Then, the finishing of whiskies for brief spells that just doesn’t sit right with some onlookers. It all adds up to a divisive and intriguing experience for members.
Bottom line is if the membership works for you, then fantastic. If you live near an actual SMWS venue then you have that added value and option to try before you buy or just relax. When I originally joined years ago many friends were leaving highlighting rising prices. Everything comes around in whisky. There’s circular nature just like the boom and bust dynamic. Just a few years later I myself was packing my bags and now we’ve arrived once again at the Malt Society. Life experience has underlined that everything deserves a chance – even occasionally a 2nd one – so let the fun commence with a new chapter.
Longmorn produces a classy whisky with an ideal sweet spot being its teenage years. Chivas has upped its scale in recent times as well as its exposure to mixed results. The Distillers Choice, 16 and 23 year old are all fairly overpriced even in today’s mad market. They do hint at its potential but Longmorn is best discovered – like most distilleries – in the single cask format, or an old deleted edition. Established in 1893, Longmorn has always been highly rated by blenders and remains a key component of recipes for Chivas Regal and Royal Salute. Armed with the memory of an enjoyable Adelphi Longmorn recently, the trap was set and the purchase made. Just 125 bottles were obtained from this 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel at a strength of 56.2% at an age of 13 years. A bottle of this would have set you back around £60.
SMWS 7.196 From the shower to the boudoir – review
Colour: pulped pear
On the nose: ripe apples and waxed lemons, followed by soft pears and a subtle level of wood spice. A sweet pastry dough, which gives a nice oily buttery characteristic. White grapes, sweet cinnamon and buttercream icing. Water brings out the coconut and tangerines. Almonds provide depth and at cask strength a gentle floral note with a chalky residue.
In the mouth: not as detailed but initially oily and a pleasing texture. Vanilla in a refreshing context, nectarines, candied fruits and a light floral honey. Lime peel, a touch of smoke, lychees and melted caramel. Adding just a splash of water and leaving the dram for a while enhances the sensory texture feel.
This Longmorn is like a massive tree hug expedition. So pleasing, emotional and rewarding all wrapped up in a whisky. Back in the Society with a well priced, tasty and enchanting experience. Nothing majorly dynamic or layered, but this Longmorn is still rewarding and satisfying. An ex-bourbon cask that’s been left to mature and develop without interference. There’s a wholesome aspect at play here. Sometimes we should be content with such an outcome.