SMWS Outturn 253 - Hearty Brunch

SMWS 10.113 - The crowd pleaserA very good list here, albeit with teething problems again...

The 7.168 is yet again delayed due to labelling issues, and the 37.91 was advertised as arriving mid-month and then failed to turn up. But to make up for it, there are three special Feis Ile 2017 bottlings.

There are also three mail-order exclusives - 44.80, 9.120 and 50.94. I have no issues with putting them in the outturn, but having spent a Friday evening at the bar sampling whiskies I can say that it's not done very well. There was a steady stream of people wandering up to the bar hoping to try them, and then being disappointed. I know there's a clear logo stating "mail order only" on each entry, but people do assume (not unreasonably) that the SMWS member's room will have the SMWS whiskies available at it. I'm not asking for them to appear at the bar here - although that would be lovely - but I think that the delayed and mail-order drams should probably go into their own section at the back, with a different coloured background and "Not at the member's rooms" prominently displayed. Having so many people be disappointed by when trying to buy a dram cannot be good in the long term...

That having been said, time to move on to the list itself. And it's a bit chalk and cheese for me this month. A lot of the drams I thought I'd like didn't score as high as I'd hoped, because they suddenly became dominated by spicy notes when I added water. I don't think I've written the word "cinnamon" so often! And yet there are three drams scoring 4.5 - the sherry monster that is the Glenrothes, the peaty joy that is the Bunnahabhain, and the younger of the two Highland Parks. If you had the light and sweet drams in the betting pool, I feel sorry for you!

There are also three drams that get a respectable score of 4. The younger Bowmore balances fruit with smoke delightfully. The Ardmore tastes like a Caol Ila, which is no bad thing! The Auchentoshan has a lovely light sherrying, very well handled.

Sherried and peated whiskies being my favourites? Are you sure you're still in the universe you woke up in this morning? ...

Estuaries of the sky

Estuaries of the sky

These clouds remind me of tidal estuaries on an aerial photograph, with little tributaries forming in the deeper channels as the tide is out.

A mirror in the sky of what happens on the ground.

SMWS 35.57 - Egyptian tobacco

34 years old, 53.8% abv, Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 330 bottles

SMWS 35.57 - Egyptian tobaccoSome bottles are fond memories that are burnished with every recollection - the only thing as satisfying as that memory is discovering that it was accurate. So it was with hope and trepidation that I selected this to share with people for my birthday this year.

The nose has soft toffee and a hint of caramel, cinnamon and hints of old leather tobacco pouches. The mouthfeel is decent -

SMWS Outturn 252 - Flavour Packed

SMWS G9.2 - Chocolate mice and cinnamon spiceThe SMWS has two outturns this May, due to bottling issues. So where we starved with six bottles at the start of the month, we now feast with sixteen!

The star of the list is, without a doubt, the magnificent Loch Lomond, which shows that grain can be good without being an expensive thirty-something. It's also my first 5/5 whisky of the year...

Elsewhere, the Glenlossie was superb. A friend - who's famed for disliking sherried whiskies - walked away with two bottles. I'd say that's fairly high praise! The Glenlivet is great, the Bladnoch is delicious, then try the Laphroaig and finish on the ashen joy of the superb Bowmore.

One other thing to note is that the Islays were both one bottle per member. Given the sales, I think this is a good move - everyone should have a chance at that Bowmore, and restricting members to a bottle each helps with that!

SMWS Outturn 251 - Whisky With Bite

SMWS 35.185 - Frightfully delightfulOwing to some issues with labelling, it's a very short list this month - something should arrive mid-month to compensate!

(Edited to add: And indeed we did get a whopping sixteen more drams the very next week on the 11th! You can see the tasting notes for that list here. There were also six whiskies that were presented for the purposes of increasing choice for the new list tasting event, but I restricted myself to tasting notes for the "official" outturn.)

The Glen Moray was the best, but the Glendullan and the Balmenach are also excellent, and the Glen Ord is a great peated dram for warmer days.

Not a bad hit rate for such a short list!

SMWS Outturn 250 - Easter Bottlings

SMWS G8.8 - Botanic gardens and a sawmillThe April 2017 list sees two missing drams (7.168 and 5.54) due to glitches with labelling, but that doesn't change the quality of the whisky!

It will probably surprise nobody that my favourite dram was the Cambus, but there are solid showings elsewhere. A delightful Glen Scotia, a charming Bunnahabhain, a solid Bladnoch, and a great pairing in the form of an Aultmore and a Balblair. Finally, you can finish your day with the Bowmore and the Laphroaig.

With days like that, who can possibly complain?

Oh, and the rest of the list is pretty good too!

SMWS Outturn 249 - Colourful Explosion

SMWS G4.11 - A happy gatheringDespite having eighteen whiskies, this list keeps a very high bar in place. Most of the whiskies score 3.5 or 4, and there are two 4.5's. Quite an achievement!

With so many, I'm not linking to all the 4 and aboves, as it'll take ages. I'm just going to pare it back to three drams, and a fourth honourable mention.

I hope you like green...

I hope you like green...

Some flowers that suddenly arrived at the SMWS on Valentine's day in 2007.

The green leafiness, combined with the green jug and the green bottles and the green labels... Well, basically, I hope you like green.

Philip Storry

Philip Storry

Me.

Taken a decade ago, by a friend, in a bar. The photos taken before and after make it clear that they were mucking about with my camera.

I realised that there are no photos of me on my own website, so decided to fix that with this photo.

SMWS Outturn 248 - Fresh Catch

SMWS G1.15 - Could pacify a mobThe February 2017 Outturn is odd on a number of levels.

Firstly, there's a lot in the Spicy & Sweet category, so you can expect a lot of the drams to leave me unimpressed - but the list was actually two-faced for me, with as many excellent whiskies as there were spice monsters.

Secondly, some of the bottles are half-using the new bottle style which will come out soon. They ran out of the old bottles, apparently.

Thirdly, and if I'm honest this isn't that odd, we have a selection of crazy woods. The grain whisky matured in an Oloros butt and then finished in virgin oak. The Oloroso butt whisky which was finished in a Pedro Ximinex butt. The Port Barrique finish. And it barely seems worth mentioning the virgin oak and Sauternes finishes, as they're becoming normal by now...

My top pick was predictably the very unusual North British. A wonderful use of wood, a little rum-like but genuinely interesting. A long list of runners up though - Glen Scotia, Bunnahabhain, Strathisla, Auchentoshan, Longmorn, Tullibardine and the Glen Grant all impressed.

Important note: At the time of writing, two drams (the younger Longmorn and the Laphroaig) had not arrived, so these tasting notes are not yet complete.

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