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Arran SMWS 121.76 Close Shave From a Tipsy Barber

Cask Strength Typical Isle of Arran Malt

3 086

@VictorReview by @Victor

6th Jan 2017


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I thank @Nozinan for the reviewed sample. The bottle was opened one year ago, and the sample was tightly packaged 4 1/2 months after the bottle was opened. SMWS 121.76 is 12 years old and bottled at Cask Strength from refill bourbon barrels

Nose: this is a surprisingly woody nose, showing some used oak barrel flavours of much above average quality. The wood flavours here remind me, in the best possible way, strongly of Jameson 18 yo, Glenmorangie 18 yo, and Redbreast 15 yo, despite being several years less-aged. There is a bit of a fudgy/chocolate note here, which I consider unusual in an Arran malt. Around the edges there is a delicate and pleasant citrus element as well. The pitches are mostly medium range with a few high pitches, but very little in the bass register. The barley-malt flavours are also strong, and present mostly in a cereal, rather than grassy, style. The sweet and sour balance is excellent. This is an elegant and lovely nose. Score: 23.5/25 points

Taste: in the mouth SMWS 121.76 barley-malt flavours take center stage, and taste in the typical Arran style. Cask Strength provides great intensity of flavour here, with the barley flavour being extremely vivid, enlivening, and BRIGHT. There is a very sharp edge to the barley flavours in the mouth, much more so than in the nose. Citrus is intensified in influence. The wood flavours are not as obvious in the mouth, nor quite as graceful. This is a nice palate, but not the equal to the nose. Score: 21/25

Finish: long strong finish, ending on cereal flavours of barley which become increasingly sour. Just OK by the end. Score: 19.5/25

Balance: excellent in the nose, good on the delivery, fair to good on the finish. Score: 21/25

Water added: 1) merges the flavours and adds a very nice high-pitched sweetness in the nose, and 2) emphasizes middle and lower pitched cereal flavours on the delivery and finish, while reducing sourness in the finish. If I owned a bottle I think I would generally prefer to nose this without water, then nose and drink it with water added

Total Sequential Score: 85 points

Strength: very strong flavours in all tasting stages. Score: 23/25

Quality: good to excellent quality of the flavours, depending upon which tasting stage you consider. Score: 21.5/25

Variety: very adequate variety of flavours, particularly in the nose. Score: 21.5/25

Harmony: excellent in the nose, fair to very good thereafter, depending upon the sequential stage considered. Score: 21/25

Total Non-Sequential Score: 87 points

Comment: SMWS 121.76 shows a very typical Isle of Arran distillery taste profile, with great intensity due to bottling at Cask Strength. I like the palate of this one OK, but it is one which I value most for its nose

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