The Whisky with Character tasting pack, costing £35, includes five 25ml bottles:
- 9.161 Cream tea at the patisserie Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow Region: Speyside Age: 11 years
- 10.168 Cuquillo black olives Flavour Profile: Oily & Coastal Region: Islay Age: 13 years
- 29.260 A visceral, elemental experience Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits Region: Islay Age: 19 years
- 30.106 Succulent, scintillating and substantial Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits Region: Speyside Age: 21 years
- 93.108 Earthy and masculine Flavour Profile: Lightly Peated Region: Campbeltown Age: 10 years
For those of you who don’t know, the SMWS is a members club. It is one of the biggest independent bottlers of Scotch and global whisky in the world, having been set up over 35 years ago now.
This pack, bottled and assembled by The Dram Team, was put together to celebrate whisky festival season with samples of the five limited edition whisky festival exclusive bottlings they have released this year to commemorate the Speyside, Campbeltown and Islay whisky festivals.
All were superb, but two really jumped out at me from this set, which will be the focus of this review: 9.161 (from the Glen Grant distillery – but I did not tell you that) and the 30.106 (from the Glenrothes distillery, but again I did not tell you that).
9.161 – Cream Team at the Patisserie – 11 Year Old Glen Grant Single Cask
|DATE DISTILLED||9th February 2007|
|CASK TYPE||Second Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrel|
|OUTTURN||1 of 228 bottles|
For me, this whisky was all about the orchard and citrus fruit notes – the zing of lemon zest, the sharpness of a cooking apple and the indulgence of a Terry’s chocolate orange. There was a floral element to this too, which I’m normally not a fan of but this was really well integrated and really added to the complexity of the whisky itself.
On the palate, which was creamy and quite thick, the wonderful array of citrus notes shine through again, but this time a fantastic soft spiciness with noters of cinnamon, cardamon and star anise forming, but not taking over at all. Vanilla and juicy oakiness comes through too along with a refreshing fruity and minty note on the finish.
30.106 Succulent, Scintillating and Substantial – 21 Year Old Glenrothes Single Cask
|DATE DISTILLED||17th April 1998|
|CASK TYPE||Second Fill Ex-Pedro Ximenez Butt|
|OUTTURN||1 of 681 bottles|
For me, this one was incredibly indulgent owing to 2 years in a second fill ex-PX sherry cask following 19 years in an ex-Oloroso cask. The nose was glass sherry, and classic Glenrothes; dark and fried fruits including a luscious raisin note, booze-soaked Christmas cake, and – like the 9.161 – a lovely citrus note of lemon and orange peel.
The palate was thick, powerful, bold, aggressive yet eloquent and the notes from the nose together with a fantastic creme brûlée and nutty note. Then raisin, bitter chocolate and gentle spice notes showed through, bringing with them some amazing flavour combinations and a fantastic depth too.
What a wonderful treat!
I throughly enjoyed going through the SMWS Whisky with Character tasting pack, of the three other whiskies, without doubt my favourite was the 19 Year Old Laphroaig – I mean 29.260 – divine if anything.