An impressive outturn from the SMWS this month, with plenty of older (and therefore more expensive) bottlings.
G3.4 Pride of Bengal
27 years old, distilled 29th November 1984, 57.5% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
A light nose of vanilla, butteriness, PVA glue, cornflake dust and a hint of ginger. The body is very sweet, with naan bread and peanuts complimenting a massive vanilla note. The finish is fiery and sees a return of the ginger note from the nose.
Water doesn’t bring out much more - perhaps a little cumin on the body. Holding this whisky on the tongue for a few seconds gives an astonishingly satisfying mouth feel - truly a highlight of the day.
58.14 Ye olde sweetie shoppe
23 years old, distilled 5th June 1989, 57.8% abv, refill ex-bourbon barrel
The nose has midget gems, berries and a touch of oak. The body adds peaches and fruit fondant centres from a box of chocolates, and the finish brings in golden syrup and oak.
After water,the nose has a touch of old dusty books, and in the body there is a much larger presence of oak and berries, as we as sponge cake in the body.
A very decent dram, nicely balanced and dangerously drinkable.
41.56 Rabbit in soured cream source
24 years old, distilled 28th August 1988, 51.9% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
A very light nose - sweet vanilla and oats, but not much else. The body is similarly clean and straightforward. Custard Creams, a hint of Bourbon biscuits, and a floral sweetness - honeysuckle? The finish is oak and corn - unexpectedly heavier than the body and nose.
After water, you can spend a little while marvelling at the heavy whorling in your glass, before returning to the flavours. The nose and body now have a slightly grassy flavours added, and the finish is slightly less large.
A fine dram for a summer's day.
37.54 A contradictory dram
27 years old, distilled 24th April 1985, 52.4% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
An excellent nose - slight hints of oak and almost burnt toast, and lots of perfumed notes from scented soaps. Subtly floral. The body is less subtle, quite substantial, and brings in tannins and a hint of linament. The finish is much woodier, bringing back that toast note yet having a floral note too - violets?
After water, the nose is sweeter, with buttercups and a suggestion of gelatin. The body has wood - camphor wood? - and the finish is also woody, but still retains those floral hints.
A very satisfactory dram, which brought a little more light into a dull overcast day.
24.124 Close to the edge of extreme
23 years old, distilled 22nd December 1988, 50.8% abv, refill ex-sherry butt
Furniture polish and cedar wood on the nose, which also hints at Terry's Chocolate Orange. The body is robust in flavour, but quite thin in mouth-feel. It's full of toffee, oranges, dark chocolate, tobacco and Arabic spices. The finish is toffee and treacle.
I didn't find that water did much for this dram - a little coffee, but otherwise very similar to its unwatered experience.
An excellent example of sherry maturation, from the distillery that made its reputation on sherry casks.
3.5/5 (would have been 4 if the mouth-feel was less thin)
44.57 Sea salted caramel pebbles
22 years old, distilled 13th August 1990, 52.9% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
Toffee, caramel, grapefruit and melon on the nose. The body has salted caramels, hints of lemon and custard. The finish is like an assortment of penny sweets.
After water, the toffee becomes a bit more dominant, but this is still a very sweet, light dram.
A fine aperitif dram.
29.129 Leather and lime in a smoky room
22 years old, distilled 9th November 1989, 55.1% abv, refill ex-sherry butt
Smoke and embers of the nose, with a background hint of leather and mahogany. The body has plenty of smoke, with a slightly nutty background - walnuts? The finish is big, smoky, and has a hint of oranges.
After water, the nose brings in a bit more mahogany, but is still dominated by smoke and ash. The body is a little sweeter, bringing peanuts alongside the smoke. The finish remains unremittingly smoky, with the oranges having given way to walnut.
A fine finishing dram, which provides a palate coating barrage of pleasantly complimented smoke. If only the law permitted me to smoke a cigar with this...