The Scotch Malt Whisky Society always has some interesting whiskies, bringing new distilleries to the forefront, some fantastic cask finishes and the occasional closed distillery seeing new life in their bottlings. Today’s review looks at three whiskies from the October out turn, including a new distillery, a closed distillery, and a particular favourite of mine.
Coming to us from the closed distillery of Caperdonich, this 38.22 is an absolutely fantastic dram, and likely the best whisky the society has released in the past few months. Our whisky starts on a bed of marshmallow drizzled with rosewater, with freshly peeled mandarins, tulip and violet petals strewn artfully on a freshly stuffed hay mattress. After we arise from our bed, we find ourselves in a kitchen, with a freshly bake pie of lilacs, nectarines, peaches, pecans and vanilla cooling on the window sill. After letting the dram breath for a short while, we find thick caramel fudge tart, vanilla, chocolate and coffee ice cream melting over the edge of a perfect waffle cone, and all of this was just from the nose. To taste, there is lemon meringue pie with passion fruit yoyo’s, bubble gum ice cream, fresh flowers, a sweet tooth’s treasure trove of honey, butter scotch, Turkish delight and milk chocolate wafers. All in all it brought to mind a happy couple bounding through a flower meadow with a basket of sweets, and brought a wide smile out on a rainy Scottish day. While the dram has a price point to match its excellence, it is well worth trying for those who take pleasure in sitting down and sipping a whisky as the world moves by.
Now this was a dram I needed no prodding to try. Cragganmore? Check. Port cask finish? Check. Beautifully affordable price? Check. On the nose it’s a boisterous, joyful dram, with sponge fingers, marshmallows, red apples, nectarines and earthy smoke to begin, then playfully teasing you with marmalade, raspberry jelly, chocolate dipped in port and Edinburgh Castle Rock. When we taste the dram, it’s almost as though the whisky celebrates its own existence, with a delectably creamy and fluffy mouthfeel, tasting of vanilla yogurt topped with honey, blackberries, raspberries and dried mango and guava. Homemade jam waves its sticky hand, and then you step outside onto sun baked red earth, hot strawberries in a South Australian garden, and a brilliant finish of nectarines flesh and cranberries. To this day, I have never resisted a port cask whisky, and this proved no exception.
Now we come to the latest addition to the SMWS roster, and I have good news and bad news. Firstly, the good news; the dram is excellent, a top notch drop from the English Whisky Company, and is reminiscent of earthier, Spey side peated malts, brilliant all the way through. The bad news is that the ballots for bottle purchases have closed, although drams are still available from SMWS venues. I’d say, get in now and grab yourself a few. Without further ado; the nose is of a lovely smoky hungi, rich earth covering a heavy smouldering fire of heather and sandal wood, olives, cloves and waffle cones rising off the top, before it turns to the deeper tones of hot custard with banana and apples. The palate is a packet of Darrel Lea liquorice, quite peppery on the mouthfeel with red peppers, light mint, well-polished oak armchairs and a meaty stew of lamb, celery, onions and smoked sea salt cooking over a peat fire in a country side cottage. It soon turns to ginger and root vegetables cooking in the coals of a camp fire, custard creams, and a backing of grapefruit and orange juice stirred with a stick of barley sugar. All this culminates in a finish of clean wood smoke, riverside camp fires and the flickering embers at the end the night. An absolutely stunning dram, which promises many more things to come from this distillery in the future.