This year the Scotch Malt Whisky Society has invented a beautiful Christmas game: a whisky Advent Calendar, so every lucky drinker can, day after day, taste a different whisky, selected from the Society’s wide range of products. Could we perhaps refrain from testing ourselves with such a coolness? Obviously not!, and so every week we will publish a sort of ‘summary’ of the malts tasted in the previous days. So below with the surprises found in the first six days of December… As you know, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society never declares the distilleries on the label, but encodes them with a number and describes the bottling with a phrase, an aphorism, a boutade: we align ourselves to the Society’s will, for this calendar, but if you are curious to discover the distillery of origin we send you directly to this table.
63.61 ‘Getting baked in the afternoon‘ 8 yo (2010/2018, SMWS, 57,5%) – December 1st
Pleasure to make the acquaintance of an eight-year-old Glen*, matured in a barrel first fill ex bourbon. N: vanilla, lemon cream, ripe yellow apples. Indeed, a note of bakery or pastry is quite evident. Beer yeast in cubes? P: muscular and almost silky body, emerges a note of white melon very clear. Maraschino. To follow, a more curious side, made of seed oil, miso, peanuts in natural, rather funny and “umami”. The water removes some sweetness and accentuates the more savory notes. F: medium short, still on seed oil, a drizzle of spice (turmeric) and peanuts. For us it is 83/100: a whisky decidedly mature for its age and pleasant to full degree. It does not come out of the “le freak, c’est chic”, but it is a nice freak.
112.62 ‘Beguiling enthrallment‘ 19 yo (2000/2020, SMWS, 55,4%) – December 2nd
We like to translate this title as “A bewitching attraction”, let’s see if this Inch******, produced by Captain Haddock’s favorite distillery in Tintin, will be worthy of such lyricism. N: in fact it presents itself with a great charm given by a very interesting floral note of heather. There is a nursery humidity with a myriad of fresh flowers. Then comes a delicate but evolved fruit, like dried coconut, apricot, papaya. Bergamot fragrant. There is also a more buttery side reminiscent of shortcrust pastry. P: Very silky, the alcohol is well integrated. On the palate the tropical note explodes with papaya and maracuja, as well as ripe yellow fruit, but then there are also curious fresh and mentholated suggestions, such as basil and mint. Coriander, the official notes say. The wood here can be felt and smoothes everything. On the finish there is a chemical note, like crystal ball and reminiscent of certain rums rather than whisky. F: this strange sense of inorganic chemistry continues in the finish, which is otherwise long and persuasive, among fresh flowers, tropical fruit and dried fruit. Loch Lomond is getting us used to whisky that is often absolutely non-trivial. This whisky is certainly one of them: the long aging in a second-filling barrel has made possible the formation of complex aromas and flavors, but they have grafted in a bizarre way on to a distillate that is not without edges and that we would even define as defects: 86/100. If it happens to you, don’t miss the taste to enjoy a very special experience.
12.41 ‘Making daisy chains in the sun‘ 9 yo (2010/2019, SMWS, 59,5%) – December 3rd
A B******* aged in second fill ex bourbon barrel for 9 years. N: rather important alcoholic impact at almost 60%, with a hint of solvent in the opening. Over time it becomes more floral (the chains of daisies evoked in the name?) and above all candied fruit (Sicilian candied lemon) and apple. P: a beautiful explosion of green apple, supported by the non homeopathic gradation. Again the floral note, perhaps a bit unbalanced, almost like industrial soap. You can feel the youth, with notes of vanilla yeast. The candied fruit returns this time in the form of Sicilian cassata, with also the icing. With water emerges a further complexity: bitter almonds and peach flowers. Interesting. F: lemon and apple, it turns a bit abruptly on white pepper. A whisky not of ready intuition and not a masterpiece of balance, but certainly very particular. Gives suggestions rather difficult to find elsewhere. The water does him a lot of good: 80/100.
115.17 ‘Flower meadows and lemon groves’ 30 yo (1990/2020, SMWS, 43,2%) – December 4th
A thirty-year-old man, even!, from a distillery in Speyside that is called in one way and that bottles its whisky with another. N: very elegant, as only a 30-year-old Speysider in refill-Bourbon can be. Pollen, beeswax, a patina of waxy fruit, it really feels like walking through flowering fields in the middle of summer. Lots of floral notes. Very fruity, especially ripe pears and pineapple (candied). A memory of a mixed fruit jam. It’s growing something citrusy, warm orange; orange blossom water. P: exceptional. It replicates the nose almost to perfection, adding only a touch of orange liqueur. For the rest, it continues to be floral and fruity, covered with a patina of wax and warm hay in the sun really delicious. Still a sense of mixed fruit jam: this fruity part is very compact, difficult to isolate a precise fruit (even ace juice comes to mind). Herbaceous veins, actually growing exponentially with time. F: long, persistent, elegant, on beeswax, pineapple and a buttery and fatty pastry. Remarkable as the naturally low alcohol content does not leave room for wateriness or a little intense body. Very good, really: 90/100.
35.260 ‘After the sugar rush‘ (2001/2020, SMWS, 57.7%) – December 5th
An adult coming from a distillery in Elgin, which – given its name and the fact of being matured in first fill bourbon barrel – promises to be a treat and sweetness. N: Who baked a fruit cake and boiled the jam? There is an enveloping sense of baked fruit (yellow apple, melon, caramelized oranges) that blends with an aroma of wood and flowers, like a closet full of washed linen. Over time a clear note of porridge and cooked cream. With water increases the floral idea and a hint of pollen. Excellent. P: it attacks soft and sweet, between dates and vanilla, then has a surge of intensity: it makes way for the wood, with a lively acidity unexpected (orange peel). A Canadair empties spices in the rain (cinnamon). A herbaceous, less sweet aftertaste emerges, and the water is a delicious oxidized shade. F: egg cream, shortbread and sweetened lemonade: in cauda dulcis. Diluted, it becomes spectacular. Very persuasive and rich, without losing the elegance. Full, taut and intense, to say the least, much better than the diabetic name bodes well: 88/100.
73.116 ‘Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition’ (2012/2020, SMWS, 67,5%) – December 6th
The special edition “38 Bath Street Members Room Exclusive” is an Aul* 8 years old barrel aged ex sherry. N: immediately an explosion of sherry and hot malt. Spices in huge quantity and a hint of cocoa bean. P: still explosive and blunt, with hot pepper chocolate, spices of all kinds and chocolate orange peel. Exceptional that you can drink at 67 degrees, the dilution helps and does not make it worse, on the contrary, a side of blackberries and leather goods emerges. F: of medium length, always explosive and always chocolaty, it ends by returning to cocoa beans. Superlative, we don’t really know what the Bath Street Members are (it’s not true, we know, but it sounded better said so), but rest assured that we will try at all costs to join the club! 89/100.