Last week was no exception as I joined new-ish SMWS London bar manager Sam, SMWS Brand Ambassador (and my first friend in the whisky world), John, the ever-insightful Kirsty Chant, Mark of Shaken Cocktails as well as new faces from the media and blogging world.
Sam opened the evening in his typical curiously fun and banterous way.
For the benefits of the writers in attendance who were not previously aware of the Society, he gave an overview of how it works and the ethos.
John then explained, a maybe somewhat bias view, that single cask is the best place to start someone’s whisky journey as it delivers the purist of flavours and encourages in depth understanding of the liquid that other single malts and blends cannot deliver.
“Don’t graduate to single cask, start there!”
Drams with SMWS #1 - Outturn 117.3 - 58.5% - 25 Year Old
One of the oldest Irish whiskies on the market, Irish distillers just don’t leave their stock to age for that long.
We learned that the Middleton holds the record for the most amount of spirit produced in one year at 33 million litres… in 1876.
In context; in 2014 Laphroaig produced about 1.3 million litres and Macallan has just started work on a £100 million upgrade to their distillery that will allow them to produce 15 million litres of spirit per annum.
Drams with SMWS #2 - Outturn G12.1 - 58.9% - 11 Year Old
A coffey malt this one, Japanese grain. Quite sweet, a nice tingle, creamy, smooth, ultimately chewable.
We discussed how there is a snootiness about Japanese whiskies, but there is a nice ethos behind them whereby they are willing to have a go at nearly anything in order to innovate and create something perfect.
In many respect, Japanese whisky is redefining whisky for the next generation.
As we all know, Scotch is lagging a bit at the minute, they got complacent and comfortable, but Japanese is on the rise, big time.
Drams with SMWS #3 - Outturn 116.2 - 61.6% - 26 Year Old
Japanese whisky from a virgin oak puncheon that was sublime. A surprisingly peaty and smokey palate full of spice.
Drams with SMWS #4 - Outturn 120.7 - 55.5% - 14 Year Old
Very dark, stings the nostrils! From Yamasaki distillery it felt like a juxtaposition of what it should taste like from the colour.
And with that, my notes ended as John spoke about the need to enjoy whisky as well as write about it. Note that he had been taking notes all night too.
I literally flung my notebook across the SMWS tasting room and got on with drams five and six, which were also great by the way.
Thanks to SMWS for a lovely night, and for Sam who was a great host.