The hardest part when writing about an SMWS list is introducing it. Especially recently, where the quality has been high and getting higher.
But this list is for the Society's 35th birthday, when we have a number of birthday events. So, did they find a way to make it special? Well, I'd argue that they have.
There are two standout whiskies here, and they are both superb representations of Society bottlings. First, the Glentauchers, which is a beautiful sherried whisky that tastes older than the 10 years it has. The second is the Cragganmore, which is precisely as old as it tastes and displays fantastic balance. What does it share with the Glentauchers? Well, apart from sherry influence, both are interesting drams that defy expectations and provide superb whisky that you'll want to share with your friends. If the Glentauchers were ten years older, it would be far less remarkable. If the Cragganmore were from a distillery with a higher public profile it would be priced out of most people's reach. But here we have whiskies that most people can afford to taste, and that are far enough from people's expectations that they'll always cause conversation.
If that's not what you joined the Society for, then you're in the wrong Society.
So the top spots are taken by sherry - which is unusual for me. But not everyone likes sherry - so for them I recommend the fresh and sweet Inchmoan, or the odd Linkwood that has flavours which shouldn't work together, but do.
Moving towards peat, we need to mention the superb Glen Scotia, which delivers an oily and citrus experience with slight smoke. But the real peat freakery happens with the two Caol Ilas (lightly peated, heavily peated). I preferred the honeyed notes of the more heavily peated bottling, but wouldn't turn down the lighter dram.
All in all, it's looking like a great celebration of the Society this month. Get to the rooms, before it's all gone!